America invading Canada has been a recurring joke in popular culture for decades. It’s mostly a joke because they don’t have an army nearly the size of the United States’, but really, why would we ever need to invade them? In Image Comics’ new series, the reason is due to a terrorist act, but lack of water has something to do with it too. That makes this plot pretty realistic, but is it good?
We Stand on Guard #1 (Image Comics)
This issue opens with a flashback in the year 2115. Our protagonist is attempting to escape American-controlled Canada with her brother hiding in a crate of fajita dinners. A hobo finds them and quickly tells them things aren’t looking so good for Canada. America has pretty much taken over all the areas where people live and they’re also trucking train cars of water out of Canada to boot. It’s an excellent opening sequence that tells us just how bad it was getting and how hard America took it to Canada. Meanwhile the rebel group our protagonist has joined nine years later is hot on the trail of their leader’s disappearance.
Brian K. Vaughan writes a solid issue here with plenty of character development for the American side of things. The enemy is ruthless and capable of doing anything if it means a victory over the last remaining rebels. There’s some torture going on which hits close to home considering not a decade ago America was doing almost as terrible acts to get information out of terrorists. The only difference is there are much more enhanced techniques in the year 2124 that allow the interrogator straight into your brain. Considering how much science is involved, getting information out of somebody probably wouldn’t be too hard. In this case, the rebel Chief McFadden must endure being burned alive, yet perfectly safe. Later she must endure even worse torture that’s more sick and twisted than anything else. Vaughan basically displays how bad it has become between these enemies and it’s reached levels where there’s dehumanization going on. To say this issue is a good setup for making it okay for the Canadians to kill as many Americans in the next issue is an understatement.
Meanwhile there’s some good team building scenes here as the rebels regroup after losing their leader. They’re banding together in the face of adversity right in the nick of time. I suspect the next issue will be action packed due to the events here.
The art by Steve Skroce continues to be excellent. The opening flashback in particular is very vivid and the emotion he gives these characters feels very real. They’re outcasts in their own country trying to just be free of the American tyranny but there’s nothing they can really do. He’s equally as good during the torture scenes which could have easily fallen apart if given less of the emotional resonance. His layouts tend to be a little less inventive, sticking to simple five larger panels per page. They don’t deviate much which tends to keep the pace a bit slower, but there’s enough detail—including multiple character reactions in a single panel—to keep them interesting.
Things aren’t looking so good for Canada.
Is It Good?
This is an enjoyable buildup issue that raises the stakes but also builds the characters too. This is possibly the best war comic published today.
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