WE STAND ON GUARD #1
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Steve Skroce
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering & Design: Fonografiks
Cover by: Steve Skroce
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Ninety-seven years in the future, coinciding with the 300th anniversary of the burning of the White House, the almighty empire that is the United States is under attack. POTUS’ office has been bombarded by drones. No one culprit has come forward. Tommy surmises that it just might be the Canadians. His mother snaps at him for that suggestion. Tommy tells his little sister Amber the back story when the nation’s capital (Ottawa) is razed by USAF missiles. Retaliation!! Dad has lost two limbs and Mom is most likely dead. Tommy is entrusted to take care of his younger sib.
Another twelve years pass. It is 2124. Amber is a lone wanderer of the wintry landscape of the Northwest Territories. A robot dog stops her in her tracks. It demands identification. Her crossbow is ineffectual against the mechanical beast. It fires a laser beam grazing her right arm. It pounces on her and is about to drill a hole in her skull when it is blown to bits. Her saviours are a band of six citizens who view themselves as Canada’s remaining freedom fighters.
Some of the fighters are suspicious of Amber. Amber in turn is surprised that the Americans have any interest whatsoever in the country. The chief informs her that the war is over water, the most valuable source of life. Amber recognizes one of the groupies as Les LePage, a famous actor. Booth is tending to her wounds. He is a bona fide red and blue fan of Superman, the Man of Steel. He gives her a mini-history lesson on his real origins. Hear hear!! Booth makes an apt analogy between the two warring lands.
The bonding is interrupted by a colossal war drone know as a Guerilla. It approached them in silent mode. The FF (not that group) manage to incapacitate the ATV. Man 7, machine 0. They crack it open to inspect it for parts. Surprise, mother****er!! It was manned! A soldier opens fire hitting Booth right in the jugular. He dies immediately. The man claims to have been following orders and utters surrender. The group is enraged. Amber’s loyalty is put to the test. She has to be the one to pull the trigger and take him out. If not, she’s either a sympathiser or a spy. BLAM. End of discussion. Amber has just gained admission.
As a Canadian-born man, I’m deliriously happy about this book as well as the concept. The sweet irony is it being written by an American! At least the artist is Canadian 😉 BKV embraces his neighbour of the north and accurately depicts all things reflective of our culture. He even writes an open letter at the end of the issue to iterate his love for us. Steve Skroce has set him straight to ensure the accuracy of the factoids. There are just so many tidbits bacon bits that I was applauding, chuckling, and woot-wooting!! BKV has taken the time, and more importantly the respect, to craft a story that will unveil Americans’ ignorance of us (and vice-versa). Canada is a force to be reckoned with!! The only difference is that we choose to remain humble and polite. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank you for expanding your horizons (literally!) and spotlighting the best and brightest our country has to offer 😀
To better educate our American acquaintances, here is a debriefing of all things Canadian:
- We Stand on Guard – The seventh line in the Canadian national anthem “O Canada”
- CBC News – the logo is prominently viewed on the bottom of the first page.
- 1812 – Canada burned down the White House. Plain & simple! Sorry, fellas.
- Parliament Building – the office of the Prime Minister. Still standing 300 years later. Well, until the missiles touched down.
- Parlez-vous français? This is Canada’s official second language. For the most part it is accurate except for Amber pointing out the Dog of War’s poor linguistic skills. Les speaks Québécois, a variation of standard French, but it is still proper.
- Hockey – We invented this sport, Yanks! You just appropriated it and marketed it up the wazoo!
- Great White North – Nickname given to our country. There is tons of snow in our country especially past the 45th parallel but we’re not all eskimos!
- Two-Four – The number 24. We call it such due to the number of beer bottles in a case.
- Canadian Tire – Hardware store that as all your home needs. A venerable institution!
- Superman – Another subject open to debate. I wholeheartedly agree that he is Canadian!!
- Threepenny Beavers – Canada’s first postage stamp and the name of the letters column.
Meet the Two-Four. Shouldn’t they be the Six-Pack?
- McFadden – the leader of the pack.
- Qabanni – weapons/tech expert.
- Booth – pretty boy.
- Dunn – soldier.
- LePage – former actor.
- Highway – giant but not gentle, more like a lumberjack.
Canucks vs. Yankees, the never-ending enmity!!
- Booth has illuminated my mind!! I never viewed the two disparate countries the way he has. The debate will be eternal. The controversy will never dwindle.
“See, America is like Metropolis, this huge wonderland that’s mostly run by greedy bastards like Lex Luthor.”
“But we’re like the planet Krypton, this peaceful place that sends our most amazing people out into the universe, where they usually end up doing even more amazing stuff.”
Steve Skroce is all over the map. He lovingly paints the vast Canadian landscape but then proceeds to destroy it!! His two-page spread of Ottawa has the futuristic with the traditional, most likely a nod to BKV’s missus. The other two-page spread detailing the Guerilla’s descent made my ears wince and my skin cringe at the disruption of the calm snowscape. The last page pronounces the carnage brought by the Guerilla. It is inconceivable that seven individuals bested this behemoth!
Matt Hollingsworth does our country right. not too much red and white but I understand that the co-creators most likely didn’t want to flaunt our flag too much to our friends down south. Amber’s white uniform is camouflage for the lonely life she’s led as well as a symbol of heroism and hope. The gunmetal grey is cold, cruel, and impersonal.
Today (July 1st) is Canada Day!! I know that the release date was planned deliberately. Much appreciated, Mssrs. Vaughan & Skroce. Round of applause to the rest of the creative team. Also, special thanks to Image Comics for being the most innovative publisher in the industry!
I already stated my national roots. FYI, this very magazine ComixAsylum is also proud to be Canadian!! You never know you might come across in your travels.
To always acknowledge and recognize our country’s main symbol, I give this book 10 out of 11 points on the Canadian Maple Leaf (91%)