Writer: Brian K. Vaughan / Artist: Steve Skroce / Image Comics
We saw that coming, right? Issue #5 of We Stand On Guard begins where everyone’s last prediction left off: we’d see Tommy in more than just flashback scenes. We’re almost to our finale in this book, which leaves a lot of ground to cover in this issue and the next, but strangely enough I don’t feel much ground was covered this time around. No revelatory flashbacks, no betrayals or heel-turns – consider this the quiet before the storm, because aside from a few more gruesome scenes to add to the catalogue, this issue was somewhat insignificant. One lesson it did reiterate? Well, Amber is a badass.
Not only is she a badass, she’s one of those take-no-prisoners, kill-them-all types, which is what you want to see going against a villain as calloused and evil as “The American.” Oh – yeah – the villain is now simply known as “The American,” so if you’re one of those readers who planned to quit if this series continued its unabashed anti-American propaganda, well… you’ve come this far, you might as well just ride out.
Since we’re nearing the end, it’s worth highlighting that while the series thus far has been a fun read, my biggest detraction is the lack of character development outside of our protagonist. The book focuses on Amber, sure, but the Two-Four had some promising characters that never saw their potential and at this point likely never will. With just a little bit of story left to go, most of the emphasis will probably be placed on the overall war and themes of totalitarian rule and, understandably, how they’ll affect Amber. Everything else will fade to black in support of that, which at least lends itself to a great final showdown between two powerful and vicious characters squaring off.
Overall, this one felt like that rebuilding season when your team didn’t make any trades and you wondered what was the point. You can always count on Vaughan’s clever dialogue and Skroce’s art – especially the wide landscapes and shockingly sudden violence – so I wouldn’t call this comic bad by any means. It falls short of expectations though, hopefully only to knock us out in the grand finale.
7.2 out of 10
Reading We Stand On Guard? Catch up on previous reviews here.