Open Mike Night - We Stand on Guard #1

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by Mike Maillaro and Mike Weaver


Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art by:  Steve Skroce
Colorist by: Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by: Fonografiks

-Published by: Image
Cover Price: $2.99

Maillaro: WE STAND ON GUARD starts about 100 years in the future.  There is an attack on the White House that gets traced back to we start a massive bombing campaign on our neighbor to the north.  We jump 12 years in the future.  Amber was a young girl when the bombing killed her father.  These days she is living in the Northwest Territories.  American drones still haunt the countryside giving warnings in both English and French.  One of the drones has targeted Amber, who is rescued by a ragtag band of Canadian rebels.  We find out that Amber’s brother had been captured by Americans.

Our rebel force claim to be the only freedom fighters left in Canada.  They call themselves the Two-Four.  They are planning on taking an unarmed American walker drone...but they soon discover that it actually has a pilot.  They tell Amber to kill the pilot to prove that she’s not a spy, which she does with no hesitation.

I am not 100% sure how I feel about this issue.  I like the concept a lot, but for the most part, nothing really happens in this issue.  We don’t even really know why this is taking place.  Why would Canada attack the White House?  What is the current status of the war...or the world for that matter?  I can’t imagine the US could drop bombs on Canada without inciting a massive World War that would result in the end of the world.  

Weaver: I think that the assumption is that most countries are happy enough not to be the people bombed by the United States that they’re willing to just let the bombing happen...but there was still some things about the process that bothered me.  I imagine Amber has some survival guilt because she suggested that maybe Canada blew up the White House right before they get bombed down to a parking lot.

I wanted to like this comic a lot more than I actually liked this comic.  We don’t get much information on the Two-Four.  We don’t get a lot of information about what’s going on in Canada except that the USA wants their water and is sending mecha robots around.  I’m unsure why the US has asked their drones to give warnings bilingually, since things in Canada use French more because they have to than because it’s necessary (well, outside of Quebec).  I don’t see uberwarlike US honoring that tradition. It’s the Canadians’ dumb problem if they get horrifically slain because they won’t understand English.

Maillaro: Yeah, I had a lot of the same problems.  It seems like we’re 100 or so years in the future, and somehow as a society we as LESS advanced social and morally then we are now.  For me, that is just an absolute bummer.   I am willing to give writers some leeway, but for the most part, it seemed like Vaughan was just willing to say “This is how things are.  Don’t worry about how they got there.”   I never felt like I was completely engaged with this story or these characters.

Even when they cracked open the “drone” and found a soldier in there killing one of the Two-Four, it is almost meaningless to me as a reader.  I had no connection to the killer...or the killee.  It was just like “Wow, that sucks.  Let’s move on.”   

Weaver: And that guy, whatever his name was, was pretty much the most developed member of the group.  

Maillaro: Even in the end when Amber killed the soldier to prove she was loyal.  I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be shocked by how much Amber had “changed.” We saw her for a page or two as a kid.  And then a grown up living in the woods.  Again, I just had no connection to her at all, so the result was “I don’t care.”

Weaver: But at least we know the pre-bombing Canada of the future still has Tim Hortons.

I look on other work by Vaughan and wonder, “What happened here?”  He’s always been a terrific worldbuilder, and this world just comes at us half-assed.  I’ll admit that I’ve long been a strong critic of the “giant robot mecha” genre and that plays into things to a degree, but this is more egregious than the typical giant robot mecha since there’s so little soul to the story.  The best giant robot work contrasts them against the humanity of the people piloting them or opposing them, but this is just giant robot for giant robots’ sake.  And I’ve thought walking giant robots were a horrible idea since at least THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.  Cool looking, yes, but stupid in execution.

Maillaro: Other than Saga, quite a bit of Vaughan’s work I read the first few issues of as a trade (RUNAWAYS, Y: THE LAST MAN, and EX MACHINA come to mind).  I wonder if that might be the problem here.  Maybe taken in a 4 or 6 issue chunk, this works as a way to start the story.  But, as a single stand-alone first issue, it just felt like a real weak way to grab my attention.

And if you are going to have a giant robot, you need to have either TWO giant robots or a giant robot and a monster fighting it out.  A giant robot always loses to the ragtag team of plucky fighters. I am not saying it makes sense, but it always happens. But I’m okay with Voltron or Power Rangers action.  Two big things beating the crap out of each other and causing massive property damage in the process.

Weaver: It makes me wonder why we bother making giant robot mechas in the future.  Surely future generations have read all these cautionary tales.  Don’t spend two zillion dollars on a cool giant robot, it’s just going to get aced by ten or fewer courageous freedom fighters.

Maillaro: Even Canadian freedom fighters.

Weaver: I’m not going to make many Canadian jokes, eh, since I’ve lived much of my life pretty close to our neighbors to the North.  What were we talking aboot?

Oh, right, mechas, and the uselessness of them.  I also wonder about the fact that this takes place mainly in a pristine woodland...with massive robots heading into it. You’d think it would be less pristine.  I also have no idea why Amber and her brother were heading out to Yellowknife, which is pretty much right on top of Alaska.  If you’re trying to avoid the US, there’s a ton of underpopulated Canadian tundra nowhere near the border.

I hear what you’re saying about being exposed to the other works via trades, but even in trade form, if the first issue doesn’t catch me the next four won’t either.  I felt that way about RUNAWAYS, personally.  

Maillaro: Typically if I spent the money on the trade, I’m going to read the whole trade.  In my life there are only two books I have started and not finished. SHADOWMOON by Lucas and Claremont (best first chapter ever.  Worst second chapter ever).  And THE LOST WORLD by Michael Crichton.  

Weaver: I have a lot easier time abandoning books, I guess.  Although I did finish LOST WORLD, so take that as you will.

Maillaro: I feel very strongly that bringing back Ian Malcolm just because of how awesome Jeff Goldblum was in the movie ruined the entire book for me.  On a completely unrelated notes, congrats to Jeff Goldblum who recently had a child.  On Independence Day, in fact.  That is a hell of a way to promote the upcoming INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE.  I admire that dedication to one’s craft.

Weaver: For scores here, I’m really conflicted.  I like the idea a lot.  But the execution is really weak.  The art has some really imaginative moments, but it feels like the artist has an easier time with mechs than people.  I’ll give it a 3 for writing and 3.5 for art.

Maillaro: I will go 2.5 for the writing.  I love that midrange score for a book that just doesn’t go it for me.  Art I would go 4.  I liked the mechs and I liked the tundra.  I agree that it probably should not have looked as pristine, but it still was very beautiful, and I dig that.  It’s the nature-lover in me.

Maillaro: So, for next week.  Honestly, there isn’t a lot jumping out at me.  We could do Valiant’s BOOK OF DEATH #1 featuring the returned of Master Darque?  

Weaver: I could do BOOK OF DEATH.  I’ll find a classic to pair it up with during the week.

Final Scores


Maillaro – Story (out of 5)

Weaver – Story (out of 5)

Maillaro – Art (out of 5)

Weaver – Art (out of 5)

We Stand on Guard #1