We Stand on Guard, a 6-issue mini-series penned by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Steve Skroce in 2015, just got its trade paperback edition, so I decided to finally read it. The near-future story of war between Canada and America was a quintessential Brian K. Vaughan offering, with witty dialogue, fast paced action, and an exploration of some interesting themes enmeshed with international relations. Vaughan gives a passable explanation to the far-fetched notion of war between the US and Canada and that’s good enough for me.
The story itself feels a little rushed (the entire mini-series is only 6 issues long), however the individual arcs do feel earned. There is a lot of personality pressed onto each character, and the interactions between them all – including the villains – is one of the strongest parts of this mini-series. There are one or two moments of eye-roll worthy jokes, but if you’ve read any of Vaughan’s work before, you’ve already learned to find it a little endearing and move on.
Steve Skroce’s line work is incredible and the details on things like hands and fingers are little gifts for the eyeball. The design on all the future tech looks incredible and seems like it involved a lot of research into robotics, which I'm a bit jealous of. Additionally, Skroce’s feel for depicting the hell of this war stands out as strongly in heavy action scenes as it does in the quiet moments of contemplation and conversation. Colored by Matt Hollingsworth, the palette is bold, but not overstated. He makes judicious but memorable use of deep reds, while the rest of the book is a bit more muted.
Overall, the team of We Stand on Guard does a good job with a solid script. It’s nowhere near Vaughan’s best (see: Saga, Y: The Last Man, Pride of Baghdad), but if you’re looking for a quick and enjoyable read with something of a deeper message about the ludicrousness of war, this one will get you to where you want to be.