Thursday, 23 June 2016

We Stand On Guard Review (Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce)


In the 22nd century clean water is the most precious resource. The United States, having ignored climate change until it was too late and because of the crime against humanity that is Celine Dion’s music, has invaded Canada and begun taking their water. But a small rebel force, the Canadian Resistance, have begun the fight back against the overwhelming might of the American military in a desperate attempt to reclaim their country. They are the Two-Four and this is We Stand On Guard, eh? 

Brian K Vaughan’s remarkable run of recent great comics continues with this fine work of dystopian sci-fi. I liked We Stand On Guard being a fan of classic Star Wars because a lot of stuff here reminded me of Empire. The Great White North looks like Hoth, our hero Amber has a white outfit similar to Leia’s, and the Americans are kitted out with weird helmets, kinda like Imperial Stormtroopers. Oh yeah, and there are giant animal-shaped robots like AT-ATs roaming the landscape! It’s a similar dichotomy too with Canada and America being like the Rebel Alliance/Galactic Empire. 

It’s a very fast-moving, action-packed story which makes for an exciting read. Right away our Canadian heroes attempt to topple a giant walker and from there it’s a bloody (and very graphic) battle against the encroaching US forces. And Vaughan is inventive too, particularly with the American torture methods and the unexpected layout of their concentration camps. 

Joining Vaughan is Steve Skroce who returns to comics after years spent in Hollywood as the Wachowski’s storyboard artist on movies like The Matrix Trilogy and Speed Racer. Skroce’s style is reminiscent of Geof Darrow’s with a similar high level of detail and epic vision – a perfect match for Vaughan’s blockbuster script! It really is a stunningly drawn book full of breath-taking splash pages showing off the scale of futuristic warfare, as well as gorgeous vistas and brilliant designs. 

That’s not to say it’s without flaws. Amber is really the only character who’s developed – the others are very one-dimensional – while the story also feels underdeveloped and vague. It has an anti-climactic ending too with a bizarre reveal behind the conflict that wasn’t convincing. I also didn’t like the French-Canadian character for speaking untranslated French, a language I don’t comprends pas too well! 

Mostly though, We Stand On Guard was right good sci-fi action fun. Beautifully-drawn, engaging, thrilling, and very entertaining, Brian K Vaughan delivers another high quality comic – good work, buddy! I had a blast and was rooting for the Canucks to thrash those damn Yankees - aboot time them hosers showed everyone they’re not some joke country, eh?

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