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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Phillip Wise
Northguard
also known as Le Protecteur


New Triumph #2, featuring Northguard (Canadian Jewish super-hero).

From: "Jewish Comics Exhibit Notes" webpage, last updated 5 December 2004 (http://www.geocities.com/hadassahfink/comicexhnotes.htm; viewed 4 July 2007):

New Triumph #2
Northguard has a nightmare in which he fights the Nazis who killed his parents. There's an interesting sequence in which the phylacteries on his arm (tefillin) is replaced by the armband of his costume that he uses to project force-bolts.

From: "Northguard" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northguard; viewed 4 July 2007):

Northguard (Le Protecteur in French) is a Canadian superhero created in 1984 by Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette.

Developed during the mid-1980s burst of small- and medium-press comics publishing by Canadians, Northguard was one of several serious efforts at developing a made-in-Canada superhero series for modern sensibilities. Themes addressed included the validity of the superhero genre itself in the form of writer Shainblum's stated intent of "deconstruction", as well as Canadian identity, corporate ethics and espionage, Canada-United States relations, and extreme religious organizations and their political effects on the world.

Begun in the anthology series New Triumph, the Northguard series centred around the misadventures of Philip Wise, a young Montreal resident of European Jewish ancestry, who had found himself caught up in the efforts of a private corporation's senior staff to defeat a conspiracy known collectively as "ManDes"(from the term "manifest destiny") to force Canada and the United States to merge under a quasi-Christian theocratic dictatorship with elements borrowed from white supremacist doctrine.

Wise was recruited as the corporation's field agent as a result of the murder of another operative, who was the only one neurologically equipped to use a unique energy weapon, called the "UniBand", built as an offshoot of applied physics experimentation. Wise's single condition for agreeing to do so was the creation of a "superhero" identity: Northguard while Wise later improvised the name Le Protecteur as a more suitable French language version.

Successfully defeating an assassination attempt on the premier of Quebec in his first mission, Wise subsequently found himself and his newfound colleagues stumbling through several misadventures, accidentally inspiring a martial arts/dance instructor whom Wise became acquainted with to create the identity of Fleur de Lys. These misadventures led ultimately to the defeat of the ManDes conspiracy and the destruction of the UniBand, effectively leaving Wise without any technological advantages. The whole ManDes affair was covered up at the insistence of the Canadian and American governments, allegedly for reasons of preserving cross-border trade.

From: "Progenitors, Prodigies and Assorted Black Sheep" (http://www.geocities.com/soho/study/4273/relate.html; viewed 4 July 2007):

Northguard was created in 1984 by Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette as the lead feature for the black & white Canadian comic book New Triumph. The debt to C.C. [Captain Canuck] is a little more obvious here: Shainblum even has a fan letter published in the pages of Captain Canuck.

Northguard was Phil Wise, a Joe - average Canadian (and comic fan) who was recruited by a private company to don the Uniband -- an arm band that gave him superpowers (firing ray beams, etc.). It was a mixture of superhero and spy, with a hint of revisionism (Phil, a bit of a nebbish, was a poor physical combatant, and only clumsily bilingual) and done in a "mature readers" style (using cussing, mature subject matter and the like). Aside from the flag-themed costume, obvious similarities to C.C. was the idea of a hero working for an agency (as opposed to being a lone-wolf), the espionage milieu and lack of "super"-villains, and the conspiracy-to-take-over-Canada plot line (Northguard's foes were American religious fundamentalists).

Northguard was also Jewish (although, not an especially religious kind of guy). So, like C.C. [a Latter-day Saint], the character chosen to epitomize Canadian identity was not a stereotypical WASP figure. In fact, Northguard is one of the only superheroes in comic book history identified as Jewish (X-Man/Excalibur-ian Kitty Pryde, Fathom of the Elementals, and Colossal Boy of The Legion of Super-Heroes are the only others that come to mind) -- and certainly the first to star in a comic (as opposed to being part of a team).

From: Mark Shainblum, "Northguard" page (index page) on official Northguard website (http://www.northguard.com/; viewed 4 July 2007):

Northguard is the superhero creation of writer Mark Shainblum and comic book artist Gabriel Morrissette. Making his debut in New Triumph featuring Northguard #1 in 1984, Northguard was part of the early 80's wave of post-modern, "realistic" superhero comics that deconstructed some of the genre's most cherished cliches.

According to John Bell, author and curator of Guardians of the North [link to: http://www.collectionscanada.ca/superheroes/], the National Library of Canada's virtual history of Canadian comic book heroes, "By setting their work in the real world and by examining the price of heroism, Shainblum and Morrissette were responsible for what was probably the most sophisticated depiction ever of a Canadian national superhero."

Fleur-de-Lys -- quebecoise superheroine and a major supporting character in the Northguard series -- appeared on a Canadian postage stamp in 1995 as part of the Canadian Superhero Stamp Series, which also featured Superman, Johnny Canuck, Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Captain Canuck and Capitaine Kebek. Northguard himself appeared on the stamp issue's collectible first-day isssue. In all, the series was one of the most successful in Canadian postal history.

Please Note: This site is under continuous, but irregular, construction. Please excuse any broken links you may find and keep tuning in for more updates. If you have any questions about Northguard and Fleur-de-Lys, please feel free to e-mail me at the address below. And don't forget to check out the adventures of our post-Northguard political parody superhero, Angloman!

Thanks for dropping by!
Mark Shainblum


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Webpage created 4 July 2007. Last modified 4 July 2007.
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