We Stand On Guard
When I say the name “Brian K. Vaughan” I’m sure a laundry list of comics come to mind that he’s worked on, such as Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways and a little known indie book called Saga. Perhaps a friend of a friend might have read it. In any event, Brian has added on to his current title work with We Stand On Guard, a new ongoing series from Image Comics that takes place 100 years in the future and follows a group of Canadian Freedom Fighters who are trying to hold off United States military drones in the northern Canadian territories.
The story opens on our lead character, Amber, and her family when she was five years old. The tension between Canada and the US was reaching its peak, with a war all but on the horizon. In the blink of an eye, her world changes forever, as nukes begin to drop and her parents die. Before passing away her father makes her brother, Tommy, promise to never leave her side. Fast forward 12 years and Amber, now 17, stumbles across an American drone in the city of Yellowknife. Luckily she’s saved by the aforementioned band of Freedom Fighters, the Two-Four, as they like to call themselves. Amber explains that she’s been living out in the North for a while now and had never seen a drone there before but had seen them while she headed north with her brother, before he was taken by the Americans while passing through Manitoba.
Brian K. Vaughan is an excellent writer, and that much continues to be true with We Stand On Guard, despite being a departure from the soap-opera dramas we’re used to. It’s worth noting this book does have a few similarities to Y: The Last Man, specifically being the short straightforward dialogue.
There is a lot of imagery that’s used in this book to tell the story, more so than the word bubbles, and that imagery comes from Steve Skroce. His work is unfamiliar to me, but apparently he did some great work at Marvel in the 90’s before going to work as a storyboard artist in Hollywood. Combine his pencils with Matt Hollingsworth’s colours (who I’m a big fan of by the way) and this becomes a beautiful comic!
I often find myself favoring story heavy comics which leads to me spending a lot of time reading an issue due to the information detailed in the word balloons but this changed with We Stand On Guard. I was surprised to see that it took me just as long to read this book given that a third of the pages had either no words or next to none for me to read. The reason that I was often left in awe when staring at the panels and the numerous splash points was because of how extensively I searched for every single hidden detail on the page. The most interesting thing to watch was the expressions portrayed by the characters. Unlike most first issues we don’t really get to know most of our characters but given their mannerisms and facial expressions we know exactly which role they have to play in the story.
This book is well worth your time and money. Brian K. Vaughan continues to show why he’s one of the most popular writers in comics today. Skroce also makes a triumphant return to the comics medium on this title and I look forward to any upcoming work he may have. Most importantly though, I really enjoy how the creators portray these futuristic Canadian/US relations which is a big strength of this book. It’s kind of funny that both creators have ties to said countries with Vaughan being American and marrying a Canadian while Skroce was born in Ottawa but spent the majority of his career in the United States. I highly suggest you get down to your local Big B Comics and grab this book. While you’re there add it to your pull list so you don’t miss future issues!