Zeb Larson reviews We Stand on Guard #1…
SAGA writer BRIAN K. VAUGHAN teams with artistic legend and MATRIX storyboard artist STEVE SKROCE for an action-packed military thriller that will have everyone talking. 100 years from now, a heroic band of Canadian civilians must defend their homeland from invasion…by the United States of America! The hyper-detailed combat between badass freedom fighters and giant f***ing robots begins with a spectacular 40-PAGE FIRST ISSUE for the regular price of just $2.99!
This was a fun first fun issue, but I can’t tell how seriously Brian K. Vaughan wants us to take this book. The premise is basically a war between Canada and the United States, the idea of which should make most people giggle a little bit. So much of the book features America bashing by Canadians and one-upmanship about which Canadians were actually really important in American pop culture it feels like a comedy book. On the other hand, it’s very violent, and this is a book that’s at least partly about drone warfare. So, I’ll be curious to see where it goes. I will be discussing spoilers in my review, so consider yourself forewarned.
In 2112, Amber and Jim are watching the aftermath of an attack on the White House in Ottawa with their parents. Suddenly, American bombs rain down on the city, and both of their parents are killed. Twelve years later, Amber is wandering through the frozen wastes of the Northwest Territories when she’s attacked by an American drone. She only fends it off with aid from a group of resistance fighters. Their meeting is cut short by another, substantially larger war machine which the group manages to destroy. Any lingering doubts about Amber’s loyalty are dismissed when she shoots the pilot, making her the newest member.
Given that we don’t get to spend too much time getting to know any of the characters, the best part of the book to focus on is the American-Canadian relationship. There are plenty of little Canada references here: one of the resistance fighters worked at Canadian Tire, everything is bilingual, and of course hockey has to be mentioned at least once. Les LePage’s French dialogue has its brilliant moments, especially when he’s explaining he “went” in his pants only a little bit. Yet the best sequence is the Superman bit, where one member of the group almost rants about how Joe Shuster was really Canadian and therefore Superman is actually a Canadian character.
That sequence is a conversation I had over and over again when I lived in Montreal, where I had to be reminded which famous actors in the United States were from Canada. (Yes, I will acknowledge that American comedy is forever the richer because of Canada). That’s where I think this book will be interesting, as it explores the relationship Canadians have with their much larger neighbor. Whether it maintains a generally light tone, gradually gets darker or just continues blending the two, I’d like to give this series a shot. On that note, happy 4th of July.