The Ten Most Insane Characters From Stan Lee’s ‘NHL Guardians’
Apparently someone in the PR department of the National Hockey League decided that what the sport of hockey really needed was some way to appeal to fans of guys in colorful costumes beating the living crap out of each other, which you’d think is something they’d have pretty well covered. To that end, they contacted Stan “The Man” Lee — legendary creator of Nightcat and Ravage 2099 — to create a new super-heroic mascot for all thirty NHL teams.
We’ve seen a couple of them before, but with this weekend’s NHL All-Star game, all of the NHL Guardians were finally revealed. And as you might expect from the fact that they are NHL themed super-heroes created by Stan Lee in 2011, they are completely insane.
What’s actually surprising, though, is that they’re somehow even more insane than we imagined. There are bios and six-page comics (written by former Nightwing and Birds of Prey writer Chuck Dixon) detailing the adventures of each of the Guardians that are available to read for free at the Guardian Project website, but before you head over to read what’s sure to be this year’s surprise Eisner winner, we’ve picked out The Ten Best (And Craziest) of the NHL Guardians!#10: The Montreal Canadien
Given the all-consuming popularity of hockey in Canada, one would think that a little extra care would be taken in creating the Guardians for the Canadian teams, especially the one that actually bears the name of the country. But unfortunately for fans of the Habs, it looks like Quebec’s only major sports franchise got stuck with what might just be the worst of the Guardians.
Seriously, this guy looks like Stan & Co. logged into City of Heroes, loaded up the default character, slapped a logo on it, and knocked off early for poutine and a sixer of Molson’s. Admittedly, he’s got rocket skates…
…and those are only slightly less awesome now than they were when Iron Man was rocking them way back in 1971, but it’s a little harder to take when you realize that aside from bilingualism, that’s pretty much the only super-power the Canadien has.
Instead, he leeches the powers from the other NHL Guardians, which means that in his own adventure story, he can’t even take out a bad guy by himself until he gets help from The Pittsburgh Penguin, of all people:
This is played off in his profile with some nonsense about how he supports the other characters and makes them “a little more valuable” by his very presence, but I’m pretty sure that’s not actually how competitive sports work.
#9. The Carolina Hurricane
Here in my home state of South Carolina, we only see ice in the refreshing crispness of a Mint Julep, which means we have to share our hockey team with those heathens from North Carolina and their vinegar-based barbecue sauce. It’s a travesty, and it’s only made worse by the fact that the hockey-playing super-hero for two entire states is apparently the love child of Pickles from Metalocalypse and Judge Dredd:
Even worse, he’s just not very creative. I mean, I realize that teams like the Hurricanes, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche lend themselves pretty easily to a certain set of powers, but if they’d thought just a little bit harder, they could’ve capitalized on something that was actually already in place.
I speak, of course, of former WWE Tag Team Champion Gregory Helms, AKA The Hurricane:
Not only did Helmes wrestle under the gimmick of a super-hero named the Hurricane, but he is actually from North Carolina. Switch up that dude’s color scheme and we’re good.
#8. The Anaheim Duck
And speaking of NHL franchises that have ready-made super-hero mascots, we have the Anaheim Ducks, which may hold the distinction of being the only team that actually had a super-hero mascot before Stan Lee recycled Torpedo from GI Joe into being their Guardian.
See if you can keep up with this string of complete illogical nonsense: In 1992, Disney released a slobs vs. snobs comedy about a pee wee hockey league called The Mighty Ducks, in which a group of rag-tag kids came together under the guidance of Emilio Estevez. Then in 1993, Disney founded an actual professional hockey team that they also named the Mighty Ducks, and while you’d think they would’ve filled out the roster with a team of good-hearted but clumsy and disadvantaged youths, they went with the usual professional athletes.
Then — and this is where any kind of logic breaks down — they made an animated series in 1996 called The Mighty Ducks, and despite the fact that they were still making live-action movies, the animated series was about a group of hockey-playing, crime-fighting anthropomorphic ducks that were led by a duck named WILDWING FLASHBLADE.
Wildwing. F—ing. Flashblade. And for bonus points, he was voiced by Ian Zeiring.
Astonishingly, this sequence of events and characters actually makes less sense then what Stan ended up with, namely a “master inventor” who builds all the technology used by the Guardians, including his own signature gadget. Which I believe is called “a surfboard.”
#7. The Columbus Blue Jacket
Well. That seems a bit excessive.
I gotta say, though: Say what you want about the weird Civil War-era Union army cap and the fact that he can throw a stretchy version of the Ohio State flag to tangle up his enemies like Christopher Reeve did in Superman II, but at the end of the day, this is a robot made of guns.
Sometimes, Stan’s still got it.
#6. The New York Ranger
You’d think they would’ve gotten all the Judge Dredd influences out of their system with the Carolina Hurricane’s bondage gear, but here we have the New York Ranger, who ups the game considerably. Fortunately for fans of moderate-but-not-extreme violence, he forsakes the pistol for a transparent plastic shield, but he’s also got a flying motorcycle that cribs from both Dredd’s signature Lawmaster bike and Hal Needham’s 1986 BMX spectacular, RAD.
It’s worth noting, however that the flying motorcycle isn’t just a flying motorcycle. It’s a “Hover Horse,” and… Well, let’s just have the Ranger himself explain it, shall we?
So, to review: His best friend is a flying motorcycle that he thinks is a horse and he has super hypno eyes that can project the exhaustion he feels from never sleeping (because New York never sleeps), into others, which can only be stopped by mirrored RayBans.
Guys, I’m starting to think these things were created entirely via Mad Libs.
#5. The Toronto Maple Leaf
This is the Toronto Maple Leaf. He is a tree. Seriously. He is a tree. In bike shorts.
And if that doesn’t make my point about Canada getting the short end of the hockey stick with their Guardians, consider this: He’s one of the better ones they got. Admittedly, he’s not quite as dynamic as the Calgary Flame (SURPRISE! He shoots fire out of his hands!), but if it was a choice between this guy and the Edmonton Oiler, who I think has the power to be very dirty and flammable, I’d go with the Leaf every time. Even if he does not technically seem to have leaves.
What he does have are a bunch of tree-themed super-powers, including the ability to grow huge, which in his case is handier than a normal tree’s, as it does not take decades. His defining ability, though, is the ability to shoot maple syrup out of his hand-branches.
As limited as these characters might seem, that actually does open up a world of story possibilities. I can’t wait to see how he fares against Professor Pancake and the European evil of the Belgian Waffler!
#4. The St. Louis Blue
Wait a second. Blue costume. Saxophone. Hilariously out of date costume. Looks like a low-rent version of Spawn.
Dude, that’s not an NHL Guardian. That’s Shadowman.
Clearly, this can only mean that the St. Louis Blue (who gives us the rare opportunity to see the singular form of “the blues”) will be teaming up with Aerosmith to save hockey in the near future.
#3. The Phoenix Coyote
I’m not going to lie, you guys: Even though he didn’t make it to the top of the list in terms of sheer insanity, The Phoenix Coyote is my absolute favorite, because Stan Lee just basically made Wolverine, and then gave him a magic trenchcoat.
That’s not even an exaggeration: The Coyote is named for a small but dangerous animal and has a mysterious past, razor-sharp retractable claws, and an unbelievably improbable haircut, and he even wears the exact same mask.
The only thing that’s really different is the magic trenchcoat from which he can summon coyotes to attack his foes. In other words, he has a jacket that shoots puppies at you, and come on. That is adorable.
#2. The Florida Panther
Oh wow, you guys. When I wrote that joke about how Stan Lee was probably just going to slap the logo on Marvel’s Black Panther and call it a day…
…I didn’t think he’d actually do it.
#1. The Minnesota Wild
And finally, we have the Minnesota Wild, who threatens to be even more X-Treme than Adam-X. I don’t even know where to begin describing how perfect this guy would’ve been if he’d only managed to have been created twenty years ago, but I guess I should probably start with the obvious.
And by that, I mean the fact that he’s a cyborg werewolf in a bandanna and a pair of sunglasses. He’s a pair of Rollerblades and a leather jacket away from being the perfect storm of manufactured elements designed to make kids think he’s cool. I am legitimately shocked that he managed to make it through all six pages of the comic story about him without referring to anything as being “tubular” or “radical — to the max!”
Of course, given the line he does go with, that’s a small mercy indeed.
In addition to the obvious cyber-werewolf powers and a fashion sense two solid decades out of date, the Wild also has the ability to channel “the wild energy” of the North Star into blasts that he can shoot out of his paws that interfere with complex electronics, because hey, at this point, why not?
He was certainly a valuable member of the Guardians team, but sadly, it looks like Poochie the Wild was actually an alien, and he died on the way back to his home planet.