We Stand on Guard by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skorce

First off, allow me to say something that may come as a shock to many of my American friends and readers.  As this graphic novel deals with in a fictional, aggressive manner: the world sees the U.S.A. as the most dangerous, and reckless force on Earth.  Even in Canada, your friends, neighbors, and brothers, we fear America more than any other country, religious group, or power.  Russia, Isis, and North Korea have nothing on the red, white, and blue.  Between the dedication and impetuous use of military dominance,  and often arrogant attitude towards the rest of the world, it’s like sitting next to a ticking time bomb.  And, it’s more than our countries being so closely associated, or the fact that any action America takes, we, as neighbors, will feel the repercussions of, there’s an unpredictability.

We see the videos of half wit American patriots slandering and abusing foreign visitors to their country and think, “oh my god!  Some of them are actually like that!”  Okay, we know, sharing many friends and family members, that most Americans are good natured, responsible, caring citizens of our planet.  But, then we see as they attack other nations in a bid for power and money.  We see every atrocity.  And, we watched as they elected in one of these half wit yokels and handed him the keys to some of the most powerful nuclear weapons on the planet.  Suddenly our vulnerability seems more apparent.

And, oh are we vulnerable.  30% of the worlds fresh water, an abundant amount of fossil fuels, precious minerals, lumber, agriculture, all reside in the 2nd largest nation on the planet.  We’re not even that aggressive about protecting it either.  Heck, our priority for the last couple years has been the legalization of marijuana.  Oh, Canada.  Puts a pretty easy target on our forehead- or territories, as it would be.  Can we honestly trust a nation that has been known to start a war over a few thousand barrels of oil?

Anyways, sorry for the scary realism.  It all ties into todays graphic novel review.  A book I have been eyeing up for a while. With a recent release on paperback, which includes a 50% drop in price, I could finally condone picking it up.  I was certainly happy I did, as once I started reading I couldn’t put it away.

We Stand on Guard was published over 6 issues between July and December of ‘015 by Image Comics.  The monthly limited series was written by Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, Paper Girls), pencilled by Steve Skorce (Cable, Amazing Spider-man, Youngbloods), and coloured by Matt Hollingsworth (Preacher, Daredevil, Alias).  With positive reception the collected edition reached The New York Times bestseller list, and was touted by CBC for its direct commentary on Canada-US relations.

Set in the year 2112, Canada has been invaded by the US after being accused of bombing the White House.  Following a group of resistance fighters that have been forced to the frozen arctic of the Yukon Territories, we receive background on how America dominated the great white north and how they are draining the fresh water reserves to fuel their dried up nation.   One woman who has witnessed some of the worst nightmares of this war is dedicated to brining at least one victory to Canadians, at any cost.

Obviously the commentary is what stands out in this fictional graphic novel.  I mean, it got me stuck on a tangent when I started this review.  But it gets so much deeper than Canadian-American relations.  This book has a lot to say about modern day politics and ethics.  With a 2015 release, it had a timely opinion considering todays politics.  When you are done reading this story you’re left with some big questions on the world around you.

Other than the major social narration, there is a pretty strong plot.  The book is fun to read as a Canadian version of Red Dawn.  Playing on that all important element of fiction, the what if.  The diverse group of Canadians assembled for the make-shift resistance group added to the story in a big way.  As the individual characters, and backgrounds all had there part to play- even if they didn’t last for more than a couple pages.  

The art was well developed, but the highlight for me was all the sneaky Canadian references the Canadian artist managed to include.  From an Eat-More to The Littlest Hobo, it added to the authenticity of this being my home.  Also, the robots and technology adapted in for a future near 100 years from now, was well thought out without going to far.  Even though there is some giant robot dogs and fun stuff.

Props to an American author for creating such an awesome piece of Canadiana.  How often do you get to say that?  I enjoyed this book thoroughly, and I wish there was more of it.  The one downfall is the story, and all of its commentary hurt from being condenced down to such a short series.  Thus, I will give it 4/5 for the lost background and information.  Overall though, it was an amazing piece that I would highly recommend for readers across the world.  Especially the ones who love a little social justice in there day.  You know who you are.

Thanks booknerds, from the true north strong and free.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. This sounds fascinating!

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  2. Nancy says:

    While I assumed the world saw the USA in the way you described, it still stings to read. We indeed are a hot mess. This graphic novel sounds very compelling.

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  3. I think this going to be one I have to pick up. As someone from the U.S. I completely understand the way other countries view us. It sucks, but hopefully next election people will get off their asses and vote! If the Orangest of Us All makes it to the end of 4 years without being impeached, I’ll be really surprised. But say he does, the next president is going to have one hell of a mess to clean up. =/

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  4. I DO know who I am! And you’re right, this sounds absolutely fascinating. I’ve always been impressed with how dystopias, as an art form/genre, can offer such powerful commentary on the present moment. I’m going to have to check this one out myself sometime.

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  5. healed1337 says:

    I remember that the first issue of this series released on Canada Day. It was a fun mini-series that did a good job at showing both sides of the conflict, even when the Canadians are mainly portrayed as the victims.

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  6. Zezee says:

    The fact that this comic book made you go off on such a tangent makes me want to read it. I don’t often read books or comics that touches on our current political climate because I’d rather just keep it to the news and longform articles, but I’d really like to see how things play out in this. Of course because I avoid such books and comics, I hardly come across stuff where the U.S. isn’t the savior.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      Definitely a fun read. I think I nailed it when I called it Canada’s Red Dawn. So if you liked those movies, you’ll dig this comic

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