Writer: Brian K. Vaughan / Artist: Steve Skroce / Image Comics
Back for the first time is Brian Vaughan and Steve Skroce’s We Stand On Guard – a dystopia in the not-too-distant future that draws Canada as the formidable hero. That’s right, someone had to rep our northern neighbors on comic panels after Death of Wolverine happened and Vaughan and Skroce answered the call.
And man, they don’t shy away from painting the United States’ villainy in an unflattering light. The cover art shows the USA flag strewn over a pile of debris from a destroyed Dog of War as our merry band of Canadian freedom fighters walk in a line presumably humming “Whistle While You Work.” Then we have an American soldier literally kick down the door waivin’ the 4-4 and straight up point the toast to your grandma’s head. It’s real out here, fam. But I ain’t even mad.
Issue #2 brings us closer into world of the Two Four, as expected. We see where they live, we get insight from a team member or two, and we’re introduced to another angle of the story. What’s done well is that we’re learning through the discovery of Amber, who the Two Four is still leery about, so readers are given information with the same suspicion that a rogue group of fighters would be willing to offer, which is to say they give very little.
Most of what we’re learning about this brave new world is through reading like a detective, making a few guesses, and picking up whatever clues you can find in the panels. You won’t read a character telling you that hologram technology exists, instead you’ll be halfway through a dialogue before you realize the person on one end of the conversation was never physically there, and judging by their reactions you can surmise how commonplace the technology is.
Amber doesn’t know much, and we don’t either, but we’re all learning fast enough to try to separate the good guys from the bad, and care that our characters stay alive. These characters, by the way, cover quite a few bases when it comes to diversity, and that’s always pleasant to see. I mentioned on issue #1 how the costumes balance being futuristic without being over-the-top and how much that helps build a genuine sense of realism, and diversity does the same. It’s already clear the Two Four is a rag tag group of quite different people, and we can expect to find out just how different they are as we spend more time following Amber’s getting to know them.
I look forward to this book’s great dialogue as well, as Vaughan does great not only creating distinct voices, but also having retorts, one-liners, and memorable lines that are badass without feeling campy or clichéd. We Stand On Guard has gotten off to a great start – diverse characters, great art, and an intriguing plot. I’m sold.
8 out of 10
You can find previous reviews of We Stand On Guard here.