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Boreal Force

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Back in October of 2016, I started posting a series of profiles for characters that were part of a superhero project I called Boreal Force. It took me a very long time to actually complete this piece as I put off drawing the supporting characters and villains due to a lack of enthusiasm for the heroes.

Premise

Boreal Force is a paramilitary strike team created as a joint operation between all of Canada's branches of military and intelligence. Each member is enhanced through a combination of science and magic, then given their own unique vehicle. Think: Beast King GoLion, Gundam or Super Sentai. 

A lot of inspiration for the mythological elements come from First Nations folklore, especially Ojibwe stories. For instance, a couple of the villains are creatures from Ojibwe folklore and each of the heroes carries a magical totem with them that helps them channel their animal abilities. It's also worth noting that two of the characters (Canis and Ursus) are First Nations.

Characters

There are five members of Boreal Force, each one coming from a different part of military/intelligence. Canis (in red) is the leader and the others on the team consist of Ursus (second-in-command), Gavia (the scout, brains), Rangifer (the heart of the group), and Castor (the newbie). They are overseen by Director Rani Singh, with additional assistance by team psychiatrist Doctor Satomi Nakamura.

The primary villains I created for the onset are Alvar Krol (the Big Bad), Eira (a witiko), and Ciar (an underwater panther).

For more information about the primary characters, you can view their profiles below.

Canis: fav.me/damqzop
Ursus: fav.me/danikdy
Rangifer: fav.me/daoe2po
Castor: fav.me/dap270r
Gavia: fav.me/daqjuwo

Shout Outs

I do want to take this time to say that this team was influenced by my watchers as a result of a poll I hosted a while back. I'd asked them to rank iconic Canadian animals and Boreal Force was thus inspired by the results. I want to give a shout out to those of you that had voted on the poll. Specifically, I'd like to thank GDupons, Godzilla713, bjv016, Jose-Ramiro, kingziggy, Steelpoodle, Gold-Reaper, m4gichat, SargimusPrime, Jovan2013, DanFalcon, K-Jounin, Biruka, Thoth23 and ParisNJones.

As always, I love hearing from you all so please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. If you all would like to see more of my original characters, please let me know.

Enjoy! :)
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ArtIdiotGuy222's avatar
Before I start anything, could I get a context on the name?
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
The name Boreal Force? The Force component is obvious (i.e. that they are a peacekeeping force). The Boreal part is a reference with many meanings. The first is its most basic definition (northern), which corresponds with the fact that this is a Canadian team and it is frequently given nicknames that relate to the north (i.e. Great White North, The North, etc.). The second is to the Boreal forest, which covers a great deal of Canada. And the last is a bit of a stretch, but it references the Aurora Borealis (which was also the basis for my now-defunct concept of the Guardians of Borealis).
ArtIdiotGuy222's avatar
Okay, wanted to be sure on that.

Now, as for the concept itself, well, it's simple enough. A group that reminds me of the Challengers of the Unknown or Blackhawks if they were military funded and apparently wore masks and had access to giant robot technology and were centric to Canada. They appear to be diverse, which is a given in the sense of your previous work, and there's obvious effort put into their designs based on surface.

Them being Canadian/this being themed around details centered in Canada makes sense given your residence of living. While this does go over my head - being a stupid American - I can tell that this is representative of your country, so kudos there.
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
I'll admit I find the comparison funny, if only because you emphasized moreso why they're dissimilar. Boreal Forces owes more to Super Sentai/Power Rangers than anything from comics. I'm not overly familiar with the two teams you're referencing (outside of Lady Blackhawk), so is there something specific you were thinking of?

Yes, the cast here is entirely made up of people of colour and queer folks.

Aside from my Gossamer Guardians, all of my original works are set in Canada. Though we're a flawed nation, I want to do my part in promoting and representing my country (the good and the bad).

Any actual thoughts on the less superficial aspects? Namely, the narrative and the characters themselves?
ArtIdiotGuy222's avatar
I was using a comic based reference since using the expected one was too obvious. But, specifically, it's another addition to the standard team dynamic where we have multiple individuals that have distinct characteristics (or colors). If they have a weapon that combines, that'd just be icing on the cake.

It'd be weird if they weren't.

I noticed that and good on ya.

As for actual thoughts on narrative, well, it has a standard basis in common with its inspiration/archetype. It has a basic grounding that I've seen before with plenty of opportunities to evolve into its own, unique experience of which I'm fairly confident that you have in mind. I don't say this as a bad thing, mind you, only that I'm someone that has seen his fair share of Tokusatsu and Anime and feel that I am fairly accustomed to the works of the former to a degree. If you'd like, I could go to the character pages and give thoughts on them.
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
I'll admit that I'm a sucker for colour-coded teams (and it's something I do quite often). Though it can be seen as lazy or cliche, I like how it can be used to differentiate characters and how it can offer an additional (visual) thematic layer to characters. I hadn't really considered much in the way of combined weaponry, though it could be interesting. Although, they are super-powered already so it may not be necessary.

For sure! I always give side eye to anything created these days that features an all-white, all-straight cast. ^^;

If you don't mind me asking, how do you think I could evolve or shape the concept so it's not as basic and generic as you've indicated it is?

Sure! It'd certainly be very helpful if you checked out their individual bios. :)
ArtIdiotGuy222's avatar
It's your choice to give them some kind of sword, cannon, or spear.

At the very least, you were interested in my Valkyrie bio that I showed you once over notes.

Well, for your case, I think the best way to evolve it would be to follow in the footsteps of Boom Studio's Power Ranger Comic and - to provide a contrast - Puella Magi Madoka Magica. While you have the basic concept present, you'd also have the layers beneath and beyond it once the ball gets going - mature themes, allegory, and the heart present for these multi-dimensional characters.

So, should I leave comments on the bios or go through each one and stick with this thread?
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
My Olympian Squadron and Gossamer Guardians have their own unique arsenal, so it may be better suited to one of those two. Probably the former.

Meaning?

Then it's a good thing I already do that! :) my concepts feature adult characters and often deal with struggles that aren't always dealt with in fiction (or are dealt with clumsily). I find myself naturally drawn to more mature stories. I also like to blend genres a bit too, which sometimes makes it a bit difficult to classify my work for pitching purposes. I did want Boreal Force to touch on subjects relevant to First Nations communities and to have environmentalism and colonialism be central themes. Although, I'm not necessarily the right person to tell those stories (at least on my own). To bring this concept to life, it would be crucial to do so collaborating with First Nations creators (artists, editors, co-writers, consultants, and so forth).

Whichever is easiest for you. Might be easier to comment on the individual pieces.
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Scholarly-Cimmerian's avatar
They all look really good! Like I said on the Femmes Fatales page, I'll go into the individual profiles and comment more in-depth on the stuff there, but I really like the uniform designs for the team members. 

The idea of First Nation folklore as a base for the supernatural content of this is a really novel idea, I think. :D I'll be interested to learn more about some of the characters and creatures here - I do know what an underwater panther is though, so it's good to see one here. Krol and Eira have some knockout designs in my opinion; I love Krol's mask, it looks nice and sinister, appropriate for a Big Bad villain :XD: And Eira just has a kind of spooky look to it - I don't know why, but the white ribs and bat-like face really appeal to me :D

Director Singh and Dr. Nakamura look good too. I like the stripe of white in Singh's hair, and just on a conceptual level I like that the team has a psychiatrist in Dr. Nakamura. :D 
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
Thanks!

Boreal Force was something, in my more ideal mindset, that I wanted to work on with First Nations creators (either to co-write a comic series or to illustrate it). Seeing as that folklore isn't mine to take from, it's absolutely crucial that I'm not the one singularly working on this concept.

The villains were a challenge. I'm not good with villains in general and designing them is even harder. The underwater panther has a pretty clear look in folklore, so that wasn't too much of a challenge. However, Eira (a witiko) was challenging. She still didn't come out quite like how I hoped. I wanted her to be more icy looking. Something like the White Walkers from Game of Thrones. Krol doesn't look 100% how I wanted her to either, but I'm not quite sure how to improve upon her. Initially I thought to have her wear a False Face mask, but I was unsure whether I wanted the villain to be First Nations or not.

Glad you like the idea of the team having a psychiatrist. I actually believe that idea came out of conversations I'd had with Jose-Ramiro.
Jose-Ramiro's avatar
Again, they look wonderful.
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
Out of curiosity (and fairness since I bug everyone with these questions about my original works), which characters here are you favourites? And which one(s) do you relate the most to? (Latter may be harder to answer if you haven't read the profiles)
Jose-Ramiro's avatar
Probably Rangifer and Gavia, but all the characters are very good.

I don't think I really relate to any of them on a personal level, actually.
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
What is it about those characters that you like best?

Oh no! Well, that's certainly not good. If you can't relate to any of them, odds are others don't as well. That could account for why the Boreal Force characters performed more poorly than my other two original character groups. It's always my goal when creating characters to make them relatable, which is why I ask people who they relate to, so it's a creative failure on my part if you and others can't relate to any of these characters.
Jose-Ramiro's avatar
I like their background info and character designs.

I still like them. I mean, I like Batman, and I definitely don't relate to Bruce Wayne on a personal level.
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
As I said, my goal is always to try and make relatable characters. So, if I wasn't able to do that here then I didn't accomplish my goal.
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DanFalcon's avatar
It's great to see Boreal Force again. The shot with the whole team is pretty damn fantastic I must say. I also absolutely adore the design of the Director. I wouldn't want to get on her bad side ever.

But the villains... Oh my dear those villains are fantastic. Especially Eira. Just such a phenomenally threatening and creepy design, while at the same time all kinds of kick ass!
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
Thank you! I really appreciate the kind words regarding my original characters here! It's great that Director Singh left such an impression on you. Honestly, I really should have written more about them but my general feeling is people aren't checking for my original work so it's probably a waste of my time to invest into writing profiles for the supporting characters (after all, my Nightcrawler profile redesign nearly nabbed just over 40 favourites over the course of three days and this one hasn't even hit 20). But I digress.

Villains are definitely not my strong suit and drawing creepy ones is similarly not something I'm good at. I guess my style just isn't good for that. However, I'm still flattered by your assessment of them here. 

My questions, as always, come back to the all-important who are your favourite characters here? And which ones would you relate to the most?
DanFalcon's avatar
Favourite characters? Easily Ursus and Eira. Ursus mostly for how much I love his backstory, as well as my own personal love for Polar Bears. Eira because I love Supernatural creatures and characters. Wendigos (or in this case, Witikos) are just so delightfully creepy and interesting to me, so I instantly love her (I also used to live near Kenora, which has the distinction of being the "Wendigo Capital of the World!").

As for who I relate with most, that would be Gavia. I mean, aside from also being bisexual, I can entirely empathize and relate to having issues regarding body image and appearance. That dominated a lot of my adolescence and it is pretty much still around, so I can really relate to her in that regard.
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
Wendigo Capital? Wow! I didn't know such a thing existed! Any particular reason why Kenora holds that distinction?

I haven't explored body image issues before with my characters (at least insofar as how I've presented them to others), so I hope that I'm able to tackle the subject in an organic, relatable way. Admittedly, I probably should have designed her to be a little heavier. I'm not yet practiced and skilled enough in the way of drawing different body types, so it's really something I have to work on.
DanFalcon's avatar
They hold that distinction for the history of local tribes that speak of the Wendigo, as well as the fact that wendigo encounters and sightings are said to take place around Kenora still to this day.

They are tackled in a relatable and tasteful way from what you've done. I've seen other people try and do this type of thing and it ends up coming off as a little distasteful and insulting, but the way you handled it here was well done. I will admit that it probably would have been better if she was a little heavier but otherwise she still works well.
Femmes-Fatales's avatar
That's really cool! You know, it's surprising that the wendigo hasn't been more of a fixture in supernatural fiction. It's certainly more terrifying than vampires, werewolves, and zombies. At least in my opinion.

If I draw Gavia again, I'll likely reflect that in the art. I think I didn't go as far as I could have due to the fact that she's a superhero who has gone through rigorous training.
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