How many times has South Park joked that Canada is a weakling country with no army? More times than I can remember probably, but what if they were as formidable as any enemy the USA ever faced? It’d be a war much like that in Iraq since we’re so close and the sides so even, which is a scary thought indeed. The writer of Saga Brian K. Vaughan is behind this one, a given it’ll be well written, but is it good?
We Stand On Guard #2 (Image Comics)
Last issue I was a little underwhelmed by the progression of the story. The basic premise was set up well, but who the protagonist was and what the state of the world was in were largely untouched. There was a lot to be desired, partially because the premise is so intriguing, but also because the first issue felt undercooked. In the day and age where comics are written in six issue arcs it’s easy to see how that was intentional. That said, this second issue kicks things up a notch as we see a bit more about America’s actions and the threat they bring to the Canadians.
This issue opens with a U.S. convoy breaking into some seemingly innocent old folks’ house. They’re looking for guns, enemies of the state and whatever else they seem to think is a threat to their country. To say this scene is reminiscent of what soldiers do to Iraqi citizens is an understatement. It’s a chilling take and one that’s easy to believe would occur if Canada ever did attack America. Whether or not they did, or who started the war in general, still remains a mystery, but it’s clear that’s not anything we should be worried about now. Vaughan focuses on our protagonist and her integration into the rogue soldiers she ran into this issue.
Americans are jerks.
In a lot of ways this is an issue to set things up as far as the bad guys are concerned. We get to see a bit into how they function, their point of view of the enemy and the fact that the good guys don’t have much time before a fight is coming to them. Meanwhile, we follow the protagonist as she checks out her new friend’s home. This sequence is the strongest of the issue, partly because elements that flesh out this world are introduced and there’s a bit of character development too. The bad guy stuff is very cliched though, as they seem to be your usual scowling villain who’s angry and villainous just because.
The art by Steve Skroce is pretty exceptional and very detailed. It’s a style that’s realistic enough to have everything be taken very seriously. An interesting element that is becoming clear is how the Canadians are very simple in their technology and weaponry, while the Americans are clearly in control of some advanced tech. We see this with a very cool hologram effect I won’t spoil, but Skroce makes it look super futuristic and advanced. Meanwhile the Canadians look like they could be fighting in WW2 based on the iron tech they are using.
If this is the future where are the flying cars?!
Is It Good?
The subtle nature of the plot reveals and a clearly well thought out world is driving things forward nicely, even if the villains are flat and the story is moving at a slow pace.