This week I am feeling very patriotic and wanted to talk about Image’s fantastic series, We Stand On Guard, particularly the sixth and final issue. This title is written by the amazing Brian K. Vaughn with art from Steve Skroce.
This series was really interesting. It tells the story of a war between the United States of America and Canada, which started because of a “drone attack on the President by Canada,” but turns into a battle over our natural resources, mainly water. The U.S. beats Canada and turns it into a police state as they focus on clearing out our resources. In between flashbacks — most of which take place in Manitoba, which as a Manitoban made me smile but also made me wonder why Manitoba — the main plot focuses on a rebel group called the “Two-Four”. We meet the group through the eyes of a young girl named Amber and quickly learn that this rebel group is using every piece of tech they have (which is plentiful since the series is set in the 2120s) to fight the Americans and keep their resources. The story is only six issues, the last being very impressive, but it packs a lot in.
Brian K. Vaughn is an amazing writer. His work on Saga is amazing and his series Y: The Last Man will stand as one of the best comics ever written, so needless to say the writing on this series was perfect. From concept to execution you can tell that this narrative is crafted by a true master. The art by Canadian Steve Skroce is stunning and complex. It’s hyper detailed, lifelike, and manages to capture an odd blend of high-tech futurism with a low-tech backdrop. I will be honest in saying I have never heard of Steve Skroce before but his is a name I will now be watching for. I loved every panel of his art; the covers in particular are stunning.
So let us dig a little deeper and face a tough fact: this war could very well happen one day. Canada has an abundance of water, trees, oil and farmland as well as a low, fairly spread-out, population. Now I am not saying we need to be distrustful or that an attack is imminent, this isn’t Canadian Bacon (great movie, check it out), but as resources on the planet become more and more scarce, and the U.S. expands its cities more and more, there will come a breaking point.
How We Stand On Guard depicts what happens during the war and the subsequent occupation is very realistic. This book talks a lot about control of what the world sees, with Canadians being arrested and killed for speaking out against America and the war, as well as the Americans using tech that allows them to control and implant thoughts and feelings into unsuspecting minds. Such details really help sell this book and lulls you into a false sense of what the series is about. At its heart this story is about one thing, and it’s not until the last eight pages that we realize it: We Stand On Guard is about a little girl wanting revenge for her parents. I am not going to get more into it as I don’t want to spoil what happens but those last eight pages literally changed my entire perception of what the book is. These pages took the title from a slid 7 out of 10 to a pretty easy 10 out of 10. I never saw it coming and I loved every second.
Needless to say this book is a 5 out of 5 and is amazing.