We don't know why the United States Canada are at war in We Stand on Guard #1. But it sure seems like America is the bad guy that deserves to get its arse handed to it.
In the year 2124 of this new comics series' fictional future, there's been a war raging between North America's two biggest countries for 12 years. Storytellers Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce don't show the governmental deliberations that lead to missiles raining down on Ottawa. What's seen instead is a Canadian family being blasted apart, leaving only their young children as survivors.
This first issue catches up with orphaned daughter Amber as she's hunting game in the Northwest Territories. Her encounter with a moose gets interrupted by a canine machine that's eerily reminiscent of the BigDog robot being made by Boston Dynamics. Her life gets saved by a crew of civilians on patrol and the dialogue we get from the members of the Two-Four squad seems to indicate that the conflict is one where America is aggressively encroaching northward.
From there, Amber and the Two-Four encounter an even bigger Made-in-America mech that gives a sense of the scale of the battles being waged between the Great White North and the Land of the Free.
If you're a fan of Vaughan's other work like Y The Last Man, Saga or The Private Eye, then you'll enjoy the banter-heavy character work he does here. But the heavy lifting of introducing a big cast of characters saps some of the energy from the proceedings here. Vaughan's best scriptwork usually has one or two key characters as the focal point of a story and there's nothing about Amber that makes her as immediately compelling as, say, Y's Yorick or Alana from Saga.
But Skroce's artwork is detailed and kinetic, sketching out a future that's advanced yet familiar enough to be recognisable. The biggest draw here is the dissonance between the real and imagined worlds. The border between America and Canada is a friendly one, free of the fences or political drama that characterises the line separating the US from Mexico. It's a big, seductive change for it to be a front in a hot war between two historically cooperative nations. We Stand on Guard #1 isn't the best first issue that Vaughan's ever written but his generally reliable body of work should mean that this series will go to some interesting places in the coming months.