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REVIEW: Canada stands strong in ‘We Stand On Guard Deluxe HC’

We Stand On Guard HC
We Stand On Guard HC
We Stand On Guard HC


Story by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art by: Steve Skroce
4.5/ 5

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To sum it all up..

“War is a racket.” This statement comes from a former American military officer who saw the general picture of the American government’s involvements in different parts of Latin America at the turn of the 19th century and even beyond. War is profitable. War is part of the giant umbrella of imperialism, which its premise is stark […]

Posted May 4, 2016 by


We Stand On Guard HC

“War is a racket.”

This statement comes from a former American military officer who saw the general picture of the American government’s involvements in different parts of Latin America at the turn of the 19th century and even beyond. War is profitable. War is part of the giant umbrella of imperialism, which its premise is stark and straightforward: exploitation of natural resources of the weak/subjugated/ defeated/willing nation-states/communities. And what if this duplicity is mixed with savvy science fiction storytelling, meticulous detailed artwork, and virtually pitch-perfect dialogue and characterizations; it results of a grand visual narrative masterpiece that is WESTAND ON GUARD, written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Steve Skroce. What makes this more significant is that this six-chapter mini-series is treated in hardcover deluxe edition. It features some additional visual illustrations and notes proved by the formidable creative team. And, who can’t resist the awesome cover art?

Brian K. Vaughan is a student of history, aware of his beloved country’s rather martial past and its reputation in that regards. Instead of dealing the present or the past, he sets his eyes to the future, a good trajectory point of virtually any tale of science fiction. He hypothesizes that the great nation has yet to learn its lesson and still pursues its imperialist quest. This time around in this book, America invades its neighboring northern country, Canada. Set a hundred years from years from now,

We Stand On Guard HC 05

America bullies its way to the northern hemisphere, subjugates and colonies the Canadians, and ultimately, eats away Canuck’s most precious natural resources for its own use. And Brian is the perfect writer to craft this kind of narrative to illustrate the continuing thirst of his country’s diplomatic relations, especially when its own resources are soon to be scarce. Veteran readers of his are surely knowledgeable of his caliber to present a very credible and logical narrative with his brand of highlighting the human aspects during the most pressing times of the human race. His body of works including Y: The Last ManEx-MachinaPride of Baghdad, and right now, Saga, possess war and humanity’s best and worst characterizations. This time around, WeStand On Guard also talks about the underdogs — the Canadian freedom fighters, who have tostand toe-to-toe with the vastly technologically advanced superpower America. This is the future Vietnam War and the parallelisms here are very striking. Guerrilla tactics are applied; tortures in various forms are presented; advanced weapons are highlighted; the occupants’ treatments to the natives are given emphasis; media and government versions of the conflict are noted; and most significantly, the indomitable spirit of the ragtag team, plus in Brian’s fashion, female leads are both protagonist and the antagonist in which, he nails these perfectly and with impunity.

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What makes this futuristic imperialist scenario more interesting is that BKV is unafraid to put his fellow countrymen in a rather negative light, unlike majority of the genres released that often put Americans on the forefront. I am aware of some films and other visual mediums in that regard, but they are considered or viewed as insignificant. But the writer loves to trend on unchartered territories and he gives us this book which the American government is the antagonist, while the Canadian resistance force is the clear David here. Whatever the former gives the latter; this group remains strong and defiant as long as a great opportunity (and an unexpected one to boast) is often a possibility. Similar to Pride of Baghdad, the scribe pulls no punches here since he base those notorious acts in real life cases, particularly from the Vietnam War, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and right now, Iraq. If America never learns from its bitter lessons of the past, what possibility the Great Nation ever of not resorting to such drastic measures? Brian provides us this kind of scenario as his simple way of reminding his beloved nation to reflect and prevent from happening, another trademark of science fiction trope.

The ultimate clincher of this great collection is no other than the resurgence of the legendary Steve Skroce, similar to director George Miller and the movie Mad Max: Fury Road’s overall cinematic execution. It is a long time since Skroce drew interiors, but he returns in blazing glory that is not only stunning to look at, but proving once and for all why he is still one of the great artists in the comic industry. First, he draws intricately, so meticulously detailed objects and characters that are a rarity in the visual medium nowadays. His subjects are aesthetically pleasing, no exaggerations in physiques. Even the facial projections and their corresponding emotional portrayals are virtually accurate and realistically grounded. His world-building of future Canada and some places of the United States are some of his most innovative takes for quite some time.

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The beautiful tundra wilderness and landscape of his native land are definitely artistically awe-inspiring. Additionally, his illustrations of America’s advanced weapons are his most inventive and breathtaking drawings/creations so far. Attention to details, even the fine lines, is very evident here. Most significantly, his command of visual sequential paneling remains unparalleled. He applies conventional approach to spread and splash pages. Matt Hollingsworth deserves credit here for he single-handedly make Steve’s already amazing pencils into an artistic masterpiece. Sure, he utilizes primary colors but he knows exactly the tone of these colors to synchronize the gravity of the overall seriousness this mini-series has to offer. Thus, Skroce’s interiors and Matt’s excellent coloring make Brian’s tale of the ultimate underdogs a complete graphic novel reading experience!

Despite some minor asterisks here, WE STAND ON GUARD is a major critique to the on-going global pursuits of the Great Nation, and at the same time, presents the indomitable fighting spirits of the Canadian resistance group, akin to the Hulk versus the Wolverine. WE STAND ON GUARD brings wider visual spectrum with its powerful impact to the readers who want to know what makes a nation great.

Paul Ramos



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