One Two Review: We Stand On Guard


One Two Review is a series where the first two issues of a series are reviewed as a whole. (more details).

Like most of my reviews, this one is about 70% complete. I’m hitting publish now, because if I don’t it will wind up sitting in my drafts folder long after its expiration date.

The Story

An attack on the US government is a used as justification for invading and eventually occupying Canada for years with no end in sight. The main character was a child when the war started, but as an adult stumbles upon a group of Canadian freedom fighters, all of whom are wearing the latest in resistance militia fashion.

My Thoughts

Parts of the story are inventive. I was a little upset with the first issue because the main character essentially commits a war crime at the end and there aren’t consequences for it in the first issue.

Brian K. Vaughan is a highly regarded writer, so I spent the next several weeks wondering if there would be some consequences in issue two. There was not. But I’m not certain that there won’t be consequences for the action in the series.

One contradiction I’m struggling with: Amber mentions in issue one that freedom forces were wiped out in the first year of the war, but in issue two we are shown a US control room where that is clearly not the case.

Aside from that, the second issue builds nicely on the first one. Characters expand on information articulated in the first issue by different characters. For me it created a higher level of credibility for the reader. Which is important when writers are “world building”.

On the topic for the motivations for the invasion and subsequent invasion, one character posits a theory in the first issue that isn’t confirmed but (more importantly) isn’t contradicted. Basically, Canada has a resource and the US wants it.

The plot of the story moves at a snails pace. I honestly don’t know all that much more about the plot of the series from reading the second issue. In the hands of most writers this would be a problem, but I’m giving Vaughan the benefit of the doubt because the plot of each issue (not the overall story) moves at a more comfortable pace. When done well, slowing the pace of a story can be used to build tension and suspense. It’s frequently used in novels, where a few seconds could be described in 30 pages of text. In comic books, it is more difficult because it is a visual medium. Again, I’m trusting Vaughan on this one.

Wild Speculation

I imagine Canada’s history with Great Britain would also have broader consequences for the Invading and Occupying US. Maybe those consequences will be touched upon in subsequent issues as well as how the scarcity of the resource in the US but the abundance of it in Canada has impacted the relations between the two nations before the war. Maybe in this vision of the future the relationship between Canada and Great Britain have also changed?

At some point I hope we learn that there are Canadian sympathizers in the US working against the war. Maybe even going to the point of serving in the Canadian resistance. Given the tone of this story so far, it wouldn’t surprise me if the US swoops in at the last minute to take credit for solving the problem the US created.

Also maybe fun to see the consequences of a US election on the Occupation (again this goes back to the whole broader consequences).

The Art

The art is very appealing. Definitely one of the strongest qualities in the series. But there are times that it works against the script.

  1. Amber has apparently been living out in the wilderness for sometime and hasn’t showered in a really long time. But I never got this impression until she stated it.
  2. It’s freaking winter in Canada and most of them aren’t wearing winter hats.
  3. Seriously, the uniforms of the resistance is way too stylish. Don’t get me wrong. It looks cool. But it also looks like it’s the Canadian GI Joes, which is different from the tone of these issues.

I still haven’t figured out if this is a mini or an ongoing series. Either way I’m looking forward to the next issue.


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