We Stand on Guard | Writer: Brian K. Vaughan | Artist: Steve Skroce | Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth | Lettering & Design: Fonografiks
One hundred years in our future, the west wing of the White House lies in ruin after a bombing. Five-year-old Amber Roos watches in Ottawa, Ontario while her parents speculate about who could have bombed the White House. Then fire rains from the sky as the United States bombs Canada in retaliation.
That is the beginning of We Stand on Guard, a limited run series from writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Saga, Pride of Baghdad) and artist Steve Skroce (The Matrix, I, Robot, Jupiter Ascending). It’s fitting that this war of the Americas series would come from Vaughan and Skroce since Vaughan is an American and Skroce is a Canadian. Here they’ve banded together to create a story that is rich in depth as well as breadth considering the number of issues it spans.
We Stand on Guard is a sweeping epic that follows the Two-Four, a band of rebel Canadians struggling to maintain their ground in Yellowknife, Canada. The story is told both in flashback to 2112 and in the “present” day 2124 after the war has been going for years. Young Amber and her brother Tommy try to evade American soldiers as they travel, alone and orphaned, further north from the conflict. And in the present, Amber meets up with the Two-Four, a motley crew which includes a former French-Canadian movie star, a First Nations tech wizard and a tough-as-nails female chief, Vic McFadden, who runs the unit.
On the American side is an equally badass Black female officer who employs some stomach churning tactics in her attempts to end this war once and for all. The series hints at a larger conspiracy, the U.S. possibly creating conflict to invade Canada for water resources, though it’s never fully confirmed, but the audience is mainly privy to Amber’s evolution as she goes from orphaned girl to hardened soldier.
The writing is superb. Vaughan has a tendency to walk a fine line between grim and hopeful and this series is no exception. The characters are run through the mill and no one leaves the story unscathed. Skroce, who left comics years ago to do storyboards for many high-profile film projects, returns to this medium with high detailed panels that are elaborately colored by Matt Hollingsworth. The design of a futuristic Canada and the updated weapons of war falls somewhere between what you can see now and Star Wars. And the torture technology that the U.S. employs is frightening and heartbreaking.
The release of the We Stand on Guard hardcover is a continuation of some of the amazing hardcover releases Image has had in the past year including Vaughn’s other limited series The Private Eye. Given the limited run of the series, it’s a perfect addition for those who didn’t pick up the single issues. We Stand on Guard is another home run for Vaughan who is currently one of the most consistently brilliant comic writers in the game.
The We Stand on Guard Hardcover is in stores now. Available on Amazon below and at your local comic book shop.