We Stand on Guard

June 7, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

guardWe Stand on Guard by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce

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I was excited to read this graphic novel, because it was written by the same Brian K. Vaughan who wrote SagaSaga is an excellent space-opera romantic adventure comic, and is unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and I was expecting the same thing from We Stand on Guard. Unfortunately, this is also the same Brian K. Vaughan who wrote Y: The Last Man, which disappointed me with its blatant sexism and pedestrian plots. We Stand on Guard is somewhere in between the two.

The story is about rebellion and revolution, set in a Canada over 100 years in the future. At the start of the story, Canada has been under attack from the U.S. for its water, which has been mismanaged and wasted in the U.S. due to climate change denial. We Stand on Guard features a group of rebels named Two Four who are organized and efficient enough to fight back against the invaders. They find a new member of their team in a young woman who has lost her family to the invasion, and that leads them to a confrontation in the upper northern region of the country where the largest fresh water reserve remains untouched.

I wanted more from this story. It moves too quickly and sacrifices character development for plot. The only character developed beyond an archetype is Amber, whose life we see in flashbacks throughout the story, but the others get one or two pages to flesh them out. It may not be necessary to have all the characters fully developed — they’re Canadian citizens who became freedom fighters, so this is effectively Red Dawn: Canada — but their deaths lack meaning because we have little connection to them except as bodies in the revolution.

The artwork eschews style for clarity, and it’s easy to follow the events and the action. Some scenes are depicted a little too graphically for my tastes (I don’t really need to see the moment someone’s head explodes from a close-range shotgun blast to get the shock of that scene), but otherwise it’s executed well. In a story with this much action, it’s important to be able to follow it.

The story isn’t terrible; it’s familiar, but takes on new meaning by setting the familiar story in a new place. The thing is, the story isn’t great, either. Vaughan has set the standard of his work with Saga, and for better or worse, his future works will be compared to that one. It might be worth checking out from the library, but I wouldn’t recommend his fans buying this one without reading it first.

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