Written by Stan Lee, Illustrated by Tim Jessell
Katherine Tegen Books, 2004
At Christmastime every kid’s thoughts turn to the North Pole. Can you guess why? It’s simple. That’s where Santa Claus and his flying reindeer have their launching pad.
Who saves Christmas? The Protector & Protectress and their kids
What do they save it from? The evil Ice King
Santa’s Christmas ride is interrupted by the Ice King (and his amazing abs!), who traps Santa in an unbreakable ice prison. Fortunately, The Protector (who seems to be Santa’s bodyguard) is watching via his high-tech monitoring system and he rushes to help. His two kids, Robert and Carolyn, sneak into his video room to spy on Santa and sees that the Ice King has imprisoned not only Santa, but also their dad! They go to tell their mom, who reveals that she is also a superhero, known as The Protectress. The three of them go to save Dad. The Protectress easily breaks through the unbreakable ice cage and the Ice King sends his ice trolls to battle them. Robert and Carolyn use the school supplies in their backpack to save Santa. On Christmas morning, Santa leaves superhero suits for Robert and Carolyn and they discover they have their own powers and are now The Young Protectors.
Okay, I’m not going to beat around the bush here, folks. This story is terrible. I’m not going to belittle Stan Lee, because the man is a legend. But it looks like he needs to stick to comic books, where his campy dialogue and constantly shifting narrative might make more sense. Here, it all just seemed ridiculous and silly. The pastel and mixed media artwork, from illustrator Tim Jessell, is listed as realistic with a twist, which seems to mean that some parts look hyper real and others look exaggerated and cartoony. Apparently there was a plan to turn this into an animated Christmas special for television, but it doesn’t look like that ever came to fruition. Probably that’s a good thing.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that being a success in one field doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be a success at everything you try. Sorry, Stan.