We Stand On Guard #1
Publisher – Image Comics
Writer – Brian K Vaughan
Artist – Steve Skroce
Colourist – Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering & Design – Fonografiks
Coordinator – Eric Stephenson
Since 1812, The United States and Canada have been at peace. Two nations born from the colonisation era, now allies to each other for 300 years. It is in this world where an ill-fated day in 2112 where the White House is destroyed in an attack, to which the United States respond by bombing Ottawa. This begins the US/Canadian war, leaving our Canadian hero Amber orphaned and growing up in a world of war. Fighting the US drones that range from the size of large dogs to towering mammoths looking down from high above the tree line.
Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, The Runaways, Y: The Last Man) has not lost his talent for writing compelling characters and feeding his stories with plenty of breadcrumbs for the interest to follow. Amber immediately intrigues the reader. She seems battle-hardened, yet damaged by this life growing up in war. Despite this, the first issue does seem sadly light on content. A lot of what the issue is doing is introducing the actions, terms and standards the reader will need for future issues, and very briefly exposing the players at this time. Vaughan’s writing has never been about any immediate hooks other than establishing compelling worlds. For now, very few players on the world seem quite as compelling, but this is something that will need time to grow.
We find Steve Skroce (Doc Frankenstein, Suicide Squad) doing pencils for this series. There is definitely something unfortunately uncanny about character designs. All the faces are gaunt and misshapen, making it look like a world of Steve Buscemis. Not the strongest Hollywood actor to base your cast on. However, this is counterbalanced by the wonderful design of the tech of this future world. The holovisions and networking systems mark this world as one beyond our own but not beyond our understanding. The highlight is certainly mech designs in the drones used by the American Army. The big one itself looking like it belongs in some long-forgotten Metal Gear game, in desperate need of a boss battle to fight it in. This along with the colour choice of Matt Hollingsworth (The Eternals, Wytches) makes the robots look less like future fantasy creations and more the inevitable result on things like the DARPA big dog taken to their fantastic weaponised conclusion. Colour choice is particularly used well for the setting. The Canadian snow makes a perfect backdrop for the emerging new faces the reader is expected to learn in this issue, giving Amber’s ginger hair a bright warmth in its comparison.
We Stand On Guard #1 absolutely has my intrigue. Vaughan’s name alone sells the book to me. His 2004 series Y: The Last Man is by far one of my favourite series, as is The Runaways he did with Marvel. A lot of We Stand On Guard reminds me of Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man. A cataclysmic event sparks the dawn of a new era, and we skip from the moment of inception to many years later, where we find the lead stumbling around in this dark world with a mission but no clue of how to achieve it. That’s not to say that the story feels tired. Vaughan puts a great emphasis on the might of the American army against the Canadians, definitely painting the Canucks as the underdogs in this war. Whether you are a fan of Vaughan or not, this title is definitely a worthy read for people seeking some huge military mech drama in their lives.