The real superman

The Young Protectors

For the umpteenth summer in a row, movie-studio executives are hoping that a bevy of PG-13 rated cape-and-tights blockbusters will draw flocks of comic-book fans and their wallets to the multiplex.

Say it with me, Thor fans: “I say thee nay!”

Put down the unnecessary 3-D goggles and treat yourself to the real cutting edge of experiencing comic books: crowd-funded Web comics.

San Francisco-based writer Alex Woolfson is bucking the trend with the Kickstarter-funded Web comic The Young Protectors. Woolfson writes the story, which is drawn by Adam DeKraker and inked by Veronica Gandini.

Woolfson's superheroes struggle to fight bad guys, come out of the closet, deal with the pressures of fame and flaunt the heteronormative mores of comic-book culture.

“As a gay kid growing up, I loved sci-fi, fantasy and action stories. But I never got to see what I wanted to see and that's kick-ass genre stories with gay heroes,” Woolfson explains on his Kickstarter page.

The format liberates Woolfson and his collaborators to tell a story that Marvel and DC Comics would likely never print. The series, updated every Saturday, isn't constrained to the standard 22-page issue, which allows the storylines, action sequences and jokes plenty of space to breathe.

Presenting The Young Protectors online also allows Woolfson to chronicle an adult-themed superhero story that will probably never be adapted for film or TV—unless HBO decides to option it when Game of Thrones wraps up.