I’ve never read a comic from writer Brain K. Vaughan before. Furthermore, I don’t usually go out of my way to read a creator-owned title from a writer I’m unfamiliar with. So why did I pick this up? I stumbled on this comic among the other releases today and noticed both the title and the torn Canadian flag. Add the fact that my pull list is shrunken from Secret Wars and delays from Image lately. Plus it’s Canada day, and I figured I’d give this comic a chance. I’m glad that I did.
The premise of We Stand on Guard is simple. About 100 years in the future, America attacked Canada at large not long after someone attacked the White House with drones. 5-year-old Amber watched her parents die in the bombings of Ottawa in what was previously a calm evening. 12 years later, she’s wandering the wilderness of a country occupied by giant robots built to patrol Canada. She then runs into a group of resistance fighters and helps them take a giant walker down. The concept is kind of amazing and for the most part this is a good comic, but it feels like it could be better.
While traces of characterization are here, most of the cast are blank slates. This comic doesn’t even reveal who the leader of this resistance team is. All we know is that Amber seems kind of distant and cold, and some members of the team are more trusting of her than others. One of the team members dies, and because we don’t really know anyone it’s hard to care. But where the characterization lacks, the comic makes up for it with a good premise and a fun action scene. That and it’s only $3 for 35 pages of story.
The art by Steve Skroce is great. The opening scene shows a cityscape that’s a good mix of science fiction and familiar sights, including Parliament hill, the Ottawa River and a Tim Horton’s restaurant. The shocked look on Amber’s face while watching her father die transitions into a similar yet determined look when she’s older, and it’s a good transition. The wince she gives when the resistance fighters treat a shoulder wound adds to the scene. The action feels big, and there’s a lot of blood without feeling excessive.
While the characterization could be better, this series has a lot of potential and I’ll probably give it at least one more issue. I’m not all that familiar with Vaughan’s work so I don’t know how this compares, but if you’re a Canadian comic reader or the concept otherwise interests you, this is worth a look.