Home News From The 'Verse Goatboy Reviews… We Stand On Guard #3 / Plutona #1 (Image Comics)

New AEISD Contributor Jon Clarke, aka Goatboy, casts his eye over two Image Comics titles that hits stands tomorrow: the third issue of We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan, Steven Skroce and Matt Hollingsworth, and the debut issue of Plutona by Emi Lenox, Jeff Lemire and Jordie Bellaire


WE STAND ON GUARD #3

“What will torture look like in the future?”

Diamond ID: JUL150548

Published: Wednesday 2nd September 2015

image - Image Comics (We Stand On Guard 03, cover)

We Stand On Guard #3 (cover art by Steve Skroce, colours by Matt Hollingsworth)

Goatboy’s Review: This is the third instalment of Brian K. Vaughan’s latest release for Image Comics. If you haven’t caught the first couple of issues, then I’d thoroughly recommend tracking them down. This has been set up and announced as a six issue limited mini-series but I wouldn’t be surprised if the creative team choose to revisit this world sometime soon, the world they’ve put together is so dense and well-crafted.
(click to expand)

(click to expand)

We Stand On Guard is set in a dystopic future where Canada is at war with the United States and follows the story of a young Canadian girl, Amber, as she runs into – and ultimately teams up with – the Two Four Canadian Freedom Fighters. This group of Canadian natives are fighting to hold their own as their country becomes invaded and consequently occupied by US forces.

Minor Spoilers ahead if you are already reading the series. Ready? Good, because here we go…
This third issue deals mainly with the capture and interrogation of a member of the Freedom Fighters team. The interrogation itself is pretty damn brutal but presented in a very original way, something that perhaps you could only get away with by setting this story in the future. The exchanges between the interrogator and detainee are well written and convey the hatred between the two warring countries in very blunt terms. We also discover a little more about what it is that the United States really want from Canada during the course of these panels.
As well as the interrogation, we are also shown what happens to the remaining Freedom Fighters and also how they are dealing with the newly recruited Amber: again, this dialogue is well written and the characters are well rounded, considering the short number of issues in which they have had to develop. I guess you’d expect little else from someone as acclaimed as Vaughan but it makes for pretty addictive reading nonetheless. Steve Skroce’s artwork is excellent, the interrogation scene being particularly well drawn.
Much of the detail is kept to the foreground to compliment the characters dialogue and draw your attention to the storytelling; background detail is kept to a minimum unless the panels really require it.. The colours by Matt Hollingsworth help to convey the dark tone of the story and the expansive bleakness of the Canadian woodland surroundings in which much of the story is set.
I think this is a fairly essential read and if you are a fan of Vaughan’s work, or Image Comics titles in general, then you are unlikely to be disappointed. You can find the current run on the IC website and I really would recommend them as a purchase, if you can’t find them on your local comic book shop shelves. However, if you’re feeling patient, I would keep an eye open for the trade paperback when the six issues are up – it’s going to make an incredible read in one sitting and I say you won’t regret it.

PLUTONA #1

“A brand new heartfelt super-hero series by JEFF LEMIRE (DESCENDER, Hawkeye) and amazing newcomer EMI LENOX! PLUTONA follows the story of five suburban kids who make a shocking discovery while exploring the woods one day after school…the body of Plutona, the world’s greatest superhero. A dark and heartbreaking journey about friendship and coming of age all through the lens of the superhero genre.”

Diamond ID: JUL150545

Published: Wednesday 2nd September 2015

(click to expand)

Plutona #1 (cover art by Emi Lenox, colours by Jordie Bellaire)

Goatboy’s Review: I’m not going to make any secret of the fact that I absolutely love Jeff Lemire’s work. I’ve read almost everything he has ever written and have very rarely been disappointed (his recent Image Comics title, Descender, is particularly amazing). The guy has a way of storytelling that is both honest and down to earth but also capable of evoking emotion in a way that most comic books can only dream of. Needless to say, I was excited to read a new book and intrigued to see how Jeff worked with new partner-in-crime Emi Lenox. Straight off the bat, I wasn’t disappointed.
Emi Lenox‘s art is rendered and stylised in a manner that you would quite often associate with an indie title or, indeed, with Jeff Lemire himself. There’s a little Lemire in there, even a touch of Bryan Lee O’Malley perhaps, yet somehow still original. It’s quirky, it’s well drawn and it serves the story beautifully.
image - Image Comics (Plutona 01, preview page 02-03)

Plutona #1 (art by Emi Lenox, colours by Jordie Bellaire)

image - Image Comics (Plutona 01, preview page 04)

(click to expand)

So: our story. From the outset, we are placed in a rural landscape, away from the metropolis and out in the sticks (with only glimpses of a caped female superhero who has obviously been on the receiving end of a beating). In this provincial setting, we are voyeuristically guided through the daily lives and pre-school morning routines of five young kids, starting with Mie, whom the book focuses on as the de facto lead character. She’s your typical teenage kid, slightly obnoxious and very sure of herself and yet not REALLY sure of herself. We also meet Teddy who sets up the world Plutonia is set in, one where superheroes exist and are part of the background – Teddy is obsessed with his hobby of “Cape Spotting” (the superhero equivalent of trainspotting or bird watching); There’s also Diane, who appears to be Mie’s bestie, even if Mie does take for granted from time to time; Ray, the bad boy of the troupe and local troublemaker with a dysfunctional home life, and, last but not least, Mike, Mie’s little brother and as such the pain in her arse / thorn in her side. Brotherly love, right?

(click to expand)

(click to expand)

All of the five youngsters are well defined from the off, their language, manner and demeanour easily recognisable, and it’s the strength of the book that it is easy to pin them down after only a few pages – think pre-school Breakfast Club. This is done over the majority of the book but, by the close, we get to the crux of the story and the kids coming across the body of our battered and broken superhero – Plutona. You could technically call this a spoiler but it’s telegraphed from that opening series of panels and, to be honest, it’s more the character of the book that is the draw of this first issue: ‘where we go from here’ is a compelling question.

Obviously there is something a little reminiscent of Powers here, or indeed a number of other books which have dealt with fallen heroes, however what makes this a bit different is the decidedly alternative feel to the storytelling with characters you can easily get on board with in the same way that you were able to get on board with the youngsters in Stand By Me or The Goonies all those years ago.
(click to expand)

(click to expand)

As an added bonus, there is an additional short story at the back of the book about Plutona, establishing her character and attitude towards her family and her heroic activities. This short story added some serious emotional weight to the book by taking the masked body found by the kids and giving her a real personality and back story.

This book intrigues me and I can’t wait to read the next issue – if you like Jeff Lemire then I would definitely recommend grabbing this off the shelf.

Thanks to Jon (Goatboy) Clarke for his reviews of these books – you can find Jon on Twitter at www.twitter.com/goatboyuk

Don’t forget, we are always looking for potential reviewers and contributors to look over the press materials we get sent to us and then add their flair to our humble little site. If you’re interested in doing so, drop us a line on our Contact Us page and we’ll be in touch…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: