I came across the first issue of Strike Guard in one of my African comic hunting adventures. I concluded the premise, a man brought back to life as a superhero by playing host to an immortal deity, was interesting and cool. What does this newly enabled guy do? I anticipated kicking evil guys into, em, wherever they go. But no, the issue took a different turn, instead of fighting typical bad guys off the bat, it focused on settling a score with a fiery spirit with a generation long grudge. Cool!
I lost track of the comic for a bit, but diving headfirst into the newest release, I must say, I have missed out on too much..
Strike Guard 6 begins with a contrasting panel that immediately strikes your emotions. There’s a woman, on a sick bed with medical piping sticking out of her. She looks ghastly and one can’t help but empathize with her. Then there’s an inset with a twin horned baldy wearing a creepy, evil face layered with very, very suspicious, hope.
“I am counting on you Strike Guard” baldy says. Wait! Why’s he counting on Strike? Maybe to return the woman from the dead? Is she dead? If she is, is that even possible? Well, he did come back once so maybe he can again? Who’s the woman anyway? What does she have to do with anything? And who the vortex is this baldy who on closer inspection, exudes the aura of a god?
A few panels in, Abolaji Coker, the host and Ajagbeja, the dreadlocked badass looking spirit are battling, wait for it, death. A crimson hooded skeletal frame with eerily glowing green eyes and mouth. Yup. That bad boy, death! You should see his scythe chale, it’s rad in a weird unimpressive way!
Long story short, death who’s crazy about his job maintaining the balance between the living and the dead, demands a sacrifice for this woman who, turns out, is Chi Chi’s mother. Chi Chi is Coker’s girlfriend and that’s the part that stumps me.
Strike makes what should have been a weighted decision too easy. I mean, I get that Chi’s the love of your life and all but come on chale, it’s her mum. She’s old, old people die. I don’t get how he could let Ajagbeja, the spirit who’s fought with him through five solid issues, go so easy to save her mum, her mum, not Chi, her mum! I mean, loved ones die. We grieve, we move on, we get stronger. It’s the cycle of life. She’ll get over it, she’s got you.
I want to say love makes people do irrational things but for a superhero like Strike, I can’t help but question his morality and obligations. I got the feeling he didn’t really care about Ajagbeja. Their farewell seemed, practiced and phony. It made me wonder if Coker and Ajagbeja actually bonded all these issues. I daresay he felt a sense of relief, an easing of his burden of battling bad guys. Unless writer Ayodele Elegba has some wicked twist to explain this, I’m resigned with crossed arms and a pouting face that Strike isn’t that great a hero after all. Hmph!
Okay, okay. I get that he is human and naturally, selfish. However, selfish is not in the superhero’s manual and that’s what he is. Call it a sour rant but I can’t help it, the electric Ajagbeja is the deal for me and his sacrifice, “herh! E pain me roff”.
That notwithstanding, I believe the creative team will capitalize on this to start an internal debate within Coker which will mold him into an anti-hero, a hypocritical goody-two shoes or a potpourri of both. It’ll be fun to see how that’s served. My ten cedis are, it’ll birth a carefully grilled, multi-layered character that will leave you lip-smacking for more.
That got me wondering though, with Ajagbeja gone, does Strike lose his powers? The final panel tears a gaping hole in my heart and the next issue’s title, Lonely Fight exacerbates this somberness even more.
The issue was a good one, a really good one, gently poking at the nuanced interpretations of selflessness or a lack thereof, sacrifice, love and the concept of second chances. It made me ponder what I’d do if I wore Strike’s boots.
I noticed a few spelling and grammatical errors, easily glossed over thanks to Jimmy King’s art. His work conveys emotions pretty well and I especially loved the panel where Ajagbeja solemnly confirms his resolve to Coker whose face conveys teary devastation, anger and regret simultaneously. It’s interesting how the symbol on his mask stands out gleaming like a question mark. I bet he’s aflame asking, why me? I did wonder about Strike on the last page though. The guy is ripped but that last drawing looked like a 6 packed pot belly (if that’s a thing). Okay maybe I’m just hating because I’ve been doing sit ups for infinity and….I’m still at the United We Stand phase.
Again like the first issue, the issue was way too short and has me eager as though I was in line for the bathroom for the next installment.
Read Strike Guard 6: Grave Sacrifice here for spoilers I didn’t mention while we anticipate Strike Guard 7: Lonely Fight and if like me, your brain is riddled with a billion questions cause you’re not up to date, or just for the geek of it, go read the issues in-between here. Don’t forget to leave a comment.