I picked up the first issue of We Stand On Guard on Canada day, even though I didn’t previously know of its existence. Writer Brian K. Vaughan is well-known in the independent comic world, yet I hadn’t read anything of his before last month. The cover, the premise and the fact that it was Canada day was more than enough to win me over. I’m glad I picked it up, and this issue is actually a little better than the first.
We Stand On Guard takes place more than 100 years from now. For reasons yet to be explained, the United States attacked Canada with a massive invasion force. The occupiers are tough on laws, quick to violence and they’re using giant machines. 13 years later, the country has become a bit of a wasteland, with rogue fighters scattered across the North. Amber, a little girl at the time the war began, joined one such team in last month’s issue. Most of WSOG2 is spent expanding on the different members of the team, exploring Amber’s determination and glimpsing at the invaders’ politics. There’s a good variety of characters on both sides of the conflict, and although none of them have been explored in depth yet, we know what most of them stand for beyond taking their country back. The action this issue does have promises to deepen the conflict in next month’s entry.
The art by Steve Skroce is good. In the opening flashback when the military breaks into an elderly couple’s home, there’s a picture on the wall of Ronald McDonald barfing in front of the McDonald’s logo. It’s a nice touch of anti-American consumerism that I hear every now and then. The environmental detail continues throughout the issue, whether it’s the Canadian hideout full of scavenged and re-purposed machines, the shower hall full of pipes and lockers, or the snowy environments of the North complete with fallen trees, rocks and trails from big vehicles. Facial expressions do a good job of capturing characters’ moods, and every character has a distinct look.
This is a good comic, and an easy recommendation to anyone interested in the premise. Just to be clear, the Americans are so far portrayed as the bad guys, but at the same time this is the distant future and there could very well be plenty of twists to come. As it is though, this is a dark yet fun comic about two currently friendly nations at war with each other.