The team's creator, current Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije, was already familiar to me for what he DIDN'T do on the football field. Born in Nigeria, moving to Canada at the age of four, Idonije excelled as a defensive lineman for the University of Manitoba. He was a draft choice of my hometown Ottawa Renegades, for which I was ecstatic...but he caught on in the NFL and never played a down for Ottawa, unfortunately (for me, it's certainly not unfortunate for him).
If you'd told me at the time that I'd be buying his comic book about ten years later, I would have found the notion ridiculous. But apparently exposure to a Green Hornet comic as a kid created an interest in comics which lives on today, and is part of his post-football strategy. Read more below.
By Andy Grimm
By day, Israel Idonije is a fairly mild-mannered defensive end for the Chicago Bears. By night -- or at least in the off season -- he’s a comic book auteur.
Idonije this afternoon will be manning a booth at McCormick Place for C2E2, the comic book/sci-fi/pop culture mega convention, hawking copies of issue #1 of “The Protectors,” a superhero team he first imagined during Bears training camp in 2007.
Though the leader of The Protectors, Isaac Chike, is, like Idonije, a bald, bearded defensive end who immigrated from Africa as a child, Idonije first says the comic is not autobiographical, then concedes that the plot is grounded in his desire to do good off the football field.I had a difficult time locating more information about Protectors other than lead character Isaac Chike. The mention of a member being a hockey player caused me to believe that he may be Canadian. I finally did get a brief breakdown of the cast in a Red Eye Chicago article from last year:
“The characters’ athletic prowess is a by-product of their (super) powers,” imbued by a demi-god character, Idonije said Thursday. “They were put on this earth to do more than just entertain… I’d like to think I’m committed to doing more than that, too.”
Other Protectors also are super-powered jocks from the equivalent of the NBA, NHL, Major League baseball and women’s professional soccer, who must use their supernatural powers to defend the earth from alien invasion....
Idonije collaborated with comics veterans Ron Marz and Bart Sears on the comic.
Set in Chicago, "The Protectors" follows a squad of athletes granted superpowers to defend Earth against an evil force called The Dissenters, which plans to enslave humanity. Each of the main characters--a diverse group that includes an African-American football player, a basketball star born on Chicago's South Side, a Latino baseball player, a French-Canadian hockey player and female soccer player--will get their own extraordinary abilities over the course of the story, which Idonije says will be a full origin story.The #0 cover is below. Athlita Comics has a website, but there's very little information on it at the moment. Their Facebook page, on the other hand, appears to be quite active.