Saga, Volume 6

Saga, Volume 6Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrated by: Fiona Staples
Published: 2016
Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 152 pages
Collects: issues #31–36

Maybe it’s because nearly a year has passed since I read the last volume, but this really felt like a return to form.


The last couple of books had characters everywhere, with different objectives, and it felt scattered. New characters were being introduced at an alarming rate, and minor characters were getting lost in the shuffle. Quite a dramatic event happened at the end of the fifth volume, and it took me a while to remember who the character involved was, which was clearly not intended reaction.

This volume, however, is much more focused, and it’s dropped a lot of the soap opera nonsense that had started to crop up in the plot. It skips forward a few years in the future, which is something I often find annoying in stories, but this time it felt like a welcome palate cleansing break. The child narrator is now an adorable four-year-old, and her parents are desperately trying to find her. She is currently trapped with a family member in a high-security prisoner-of-war camp, so the story has a fun heist vibe while re-establishing the characters and plotline.

There is a side plot of people tracking the parents and their child, which is less interesting but not unbearable. It adds tension and will hopefully come into its own without muddling the main storyline again, but I thought in this volume the balance between the viewpoint characters worked really well.

I was starting to drift from this series a little, but I’m back on the hype train. I’m eager to get to the next volume, but I have a feeling it won’t be coming out until early next year.

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The Vegetarian

The VegetarianThe Vegetarian by Han Kang
Published: 2007
Translated By: Deborah Smith (from Korean in 2015)
Length: 192 pages

The Vegetarian is this year’s Man Booker International Prize winner, but I’ve seen very mixed reviews since it was awarded the prize last May. I like to watch BookTube videos, and that community seems to be simultaneously obsessed with the Man Booker prize and disapproving of every novel that is shortlisted for it, so I never know what to think. I saw the name so often in the last few months that I picked it up during my Powell’s shopping spree at the end of the summer just to see what the deal was.

I’m also on the hunt for a good list of books, whether that’s a list of prize winners or a random organization’s ‘top 100 novels’ list, because I finished my Classics Club list half a year ago and I’ve been floating directionless ever since. I need a checklist to ignore.

This is, as you might guess, about a woman who becomes a vegetarian. She makes this change in her life because of a dream, and her husband is appalled. Forgoing meat in South Korea is already a strange and subversive act to some, but she takes it even further by throwing out all of the meat in the house and finding herself disgusted by the lunch meat smell when her husband returns from work. This goes well beyond a change in diet, however, as she becomes more and more listless and withdrawn as time goes on.

It’s hard to understand what’s happening to her. She isn’t the narrator, and she doesn’t even attempt to discuss her thoughts, so most of the novel involves other people becoming frustrated with the main character and treating her horribly, particularly the men in her life. Her husband is one of the most selfish characters I’ve come across in a while, and most of the other characters aren’t much better. The novel starts off quite dark and really doesn’t let up.

Really thought this would be more about cabbage. O.o

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It’s an interesting read. Knowing nothing about the author or story going in, I was questioning whether she was experiencing something supernatural or suffering from a mental illness, and in either case whether she would find the help she needs. Han Kang did a brilliant job, particularly in the last section of the novel, in conveying the feeling of helplessness and frustration that comes with trying to support someone who doesn’t want to, or is incapable of, change. Showing plainly how heartbreaking it can be to watch someone hurt themselves.

I found myself interested in the story from start to finish. The writing was simple while still being very evocative. I want to note that Deborah Smith, the translator, apparently began learning Korean in 2010, and this was the first novel she translated. To start learning a language relatively recently, and now have a shared Man Booker prize, is pretty incredible. She did a great job with this.

As with the last Man Booker novel I read, The Sea, it felt like it wasn’t as full a package as I’d expect from the winner of one of the most prestigious literary awards, but it’s definitely a read that sticks in your mind for a long time after.

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Captain America: Winter Soldier

Captain America: Winter SoldierCaptain America: Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker
Format: Trade Paperback
Illustrated by: Steve Epting / Mike Perkins / Michael Lark
Collects: Captain America (vol. 5) #1-9 & 11-14
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Published: 2005 (collected in 2010)
Length: 304 pages

Growing up, I was not the least bit interested in Captain America. I think he always seemed a bit tacky to Canadian readers. We have had a couple of maple leaf clad heroes, one with the embarrassing name of Captain Canuck, but they never really took off. I think by the time I was reading comics, the whole squeaky-clean patriotic leader idea wasn’t really in style.


Once I learned a bit about Captain America, he seemed a much more interesting character. His backstory involves the loyal flag-waving, what he was created for, but throughout the years he often became critical of the government, a reflection of American ideals and a reminder for when those ideals were being ignored, rather than just a hacky yes-man. I love that the first Captain America comic had him punching Hitler in the face a year before America entered the war. He was created in a time in history when a character like that made sense.

This book is Captain America in our present time as he tries to track down a Cosmic Cube that was acquired by Red Skull. Before he’s able to retrieve the cube, he’s intercepted by an unknown assassin, a companion he had thought dead for forty years. As the story progresses, we are introduced to the mysterious character and get to learn about his tragic life since his supposed death and why he has seemingly turned evil. It’s a well written story that hooked me even without having any connection to, and very little knowledge of, the characters. It’s a great introduction to that cast, as the assassin’s story is told through flashbacks that span the length of Captain America’s career.

I picked this up ages ago to read before the film was released, which didn’t happen. I heard about this Ed Brubaker run enough times that, despite not really knowing anything about the character, I wanted to give it a try. I’m glad I did. The art was very good, but where this really succeeded was in the interesting story. I imagine it would be mind-blowing if you were an old-school fan to see a character brought back from literally forty years ago. It’s something that can’t happen in a lot of mediums, but the long-running and continuous nature of comic publications make something like that possible.

Worth picking up if you’re enjoying the movies.

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Off to Be the Wizard

Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0, #1)Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer
Published: 2014
Series: Magic 2.0 #1
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Length: 10:15 (372 pages)

This has been on my Audible recommended list for quite a while. I happily judge books by their covers when browsing for something to read, and I have to admit, as a life-long lover of video games, I was suckered in by this cover. It’s almost unfair, really. This was written by Scott Meyer, who has a web comic I was unaware of called Basic Instructions.

This is about an unhappy programmer named Martin Banks who, out of boredom, spends time digging through random files on random file servers. He finds a document that allows him to manipulate the world. It has entries for every object in existence, and if he changes his height attribute on his personal entry, he will immediately become that height. If he changes his latitude and longitude, he will then be in that location. If he adds a couple of feet to his altitude, he’ll probably land on his ass. The world, he discovers, is just a computer program, and he’s able to control everything around him in a way that appears as magic to others.

Where did the file came from, what does it mean for humanity, who controls the system, what other files are available, what type of file system allows files of that size (maybe less important) – none of these questions occur to Martin. He just happily accepts what’s happening and moves on.

The beginning of this novel is just bad. I don’t know if his writing improved as he went along, and he just never went back to revise, but I almost had to stop. I am glad I persevered, though, as it became an enjoyable story once he found his stride. I wish it wasn’t quite as light as it is. The situation he uncovered, all of humanity being nothing but a computer simulation, has some pretty obvious philosophical questions that could be explored, but it’s all glossed over. This is a trilogy, so maybe those ideas will be explored in the later books, but Martin’s lack of curiosity really felt unnatural to me.

The story is full of interesting ideas, but it feels like Meyer rushed through to get to the bit he was most interested in, which left it feeling empty for the first half. It does start to pick up as the story moves along, thankfully. He does some interesting things with how the file is manipulated and how the wizarding community controls it, and I was genuinely interested in seeing what happened next. The overall premise, even though it isn’t explained at all, was a fun one that opened up a lot of possibilities.

One thing that always annoys me is when characters give a sly remarks about problems in the plot as if that excuses them, with comments like “this is like a bad movie” or, in this case, stating that someone is like a two-dimensional character in a bad novel. It’s just faking self-awareness. Joking about it doesn’t make it any less true. If you’re aware of a problem, fix it. I can see this working under very specific circumstances, maybe, but I’ve never read a novel that tried that joke without it being irritating.

There’s obviously a lot about this that bothered me – some of the writing, the plot holes, the lack of character development, the way characters didn’t seem to really stop and react to anything in any meaningful way – but despite all of this I still found it entertaining. Some of the dialogue and situations were actually really funny, and I enjoyed the unique ‘magic’ system and how it allowed for each wizard to manipulate the world in their own way, awarding them for creativity. Once I got over the problems and just accepted the novel for what it was, it was quite a fun listen.

As you can see, I’m a little conflicted with this one. I’m hesitant to carry on with the series, but I am slightly interested to see how the rest of the trilogy holds up. He has enough here to come up with something fun, but I’m worried that it will continue to fall short. He’s a funny author with interesting ideas, and he could potentially come out with some great novels if he can sort out his plotting issues.

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Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling

Delilah Dirk and the King's ShillingDelilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling by Tony Cliff
Format: Original Graphic Novel
Illustrated by: Tony Cliff
Series: Delilah Dirk #2
Publisher: First Second
Published: 2016
Length: 272 pages

After I finished the first Delilah Dirk book, I noticed there was a second volume that had just been released. That’s the pleasure of being a few years behind the ball, I suppose. I picked it up at a local comic store soon after, and was pleased to find that it was twice the size of the first.

The first book focused more on the story of Selim, the Turkish Lieutenant, while keeping Delilah a super-powered mystery. In this book, we get to see more of her human side, as the story brings the two of them to her mother’s home in England. She’s not known as the mythical Delilah Dirk there, but merely as her mother’s daughter, an unwed upper class woman. She’s expected to attend balls and find a suitor rather than wander the world in search of treasure and adventure.

Delilah didn’t travel back to England for fun, but rather was drawn there to protect her name and honour and to exact revenge. The book begins with her crossing Portugal after a completed job, where she encounters a corrupt English officer and finds herself being accused of treason. He’s a cocky and entitled child of a high-ranking general, so the reader is really rooting for Delilah Dirk in this one. It’s a bit like the lovechild of Indiana Jones and Jane Austen hunting down one of Trump’s children, which makes for a satisfying read.

These books are a lot of fun. I’m assuming and hoping there will be more. I just love the expressive art, the humour, and the unapologetic pulpy action.

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A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen MeanyA Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Published: 1989
Length: 617 pages

This is the story of two young friends, beginning from their childhood as schoolboys in a New Hampshire classroom and continuing through their adolescence and into adulthood. John Wheelwright, the narrator, is from a wealthy and respected family. He is a surprisingly ordinary and passive character, at least in his younger years, but serves well as a lens from which to view Owen Meany. Owen is a physically underdeveloped but deeply intelligent boy with an unchanged high voice, like one stuck in a permanent scream (and written IN ALL CAPS like Pratchett’s Death). He is from a working class family, and is an unlikely match for John, but they are the best of friends.

Tragedy strikes the Wheelwright family when the boys are quite young, and it greatly affects the course of John and Owen’s lives. Owen doesn’t believe it was just an unfortunate accident. He believes it was all part of God’s plan, and his involvement was just him acting as God’s tool. The questions throughout the novel are whether this is just his way of coping with a random and terrible accident and what this belief will make him do later in his life.

“I want to go on being a student,” I told him. “I want to be a teacher. I’m just a reader,” I said.


“I learned it from you,” I told him.


This is a slow and steady novel. Really, very slow. Irving details, what seems at the time, incredibly mundane events in the lives of these two boys, and he does so in painstaking detail. The novel spans thirty years, but in many ways it feels like you live every second of that time. This is something I would have normally found excruciating, but I really enjoyed the writing and spending time with these characters. I was continually surprised with how little the pace bothered me.

Irving, in this novel at least, has a knack for elevating the mundane. He’s very clever in how he brings to life those small events that often go unnoticed. There’s a scene in this where John has to introduce his rowdy cousins to Owen Meany, and it so perfectly captures the mild horror that accompanies the act of introducing two different groups of friends to each other. His cousins are rough and loud and violent, and Owen is small and thoughtful. Even though the meeting ends terribly, John finds himself surprised. as we often are in these situations, with how accommodating his cousins acted.

This is my first John Irving novel, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. A lot of reviewers mentioned weeping at the end, while having their lives changed by these characters, but I didn’t have that reaction. It may be my lack of religious faith, so that angle didn’t affect me in the same way as some, or it might just be that I’m emotionally dead inside. I think it’s largely that the general idea of the ending was purposely telegraphed so early on that I felt I had come to terms with it before I got there. It was sad, without a doubt, but it wasn’t a punch-in-the-gut moment for me personally.


I know these characters will stick with me for a very long time, and I found his mixture of humour and tragedy to be perfectly balanced. The setting, New Hampshire in the fifties and sixties, under the backdrop of the Vietnam War, allowed Irving to voice his outrage and explore war from the view back home. The length of the book and the slow pace, not something I typically desire, in this case really helped solidify these characters in the mind of the reader. You come out having spent so much time in John Wheelwright’s head that the world, and it’s inhabitants, feel real. And not in the typical way of a well-written novel. There’s something about the narrow focus of the narrative, how it follows these two and their every move, that really paints a complete picture in a special way.

I really enjoyed this. Maybe not as much as the people on Goodreads who named their children after Owen, but still very much. I have The Cider House Rules on my shelf already, so that will probably be the next John Irving novel I tackle.

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September in Review

Books Acquired:
The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
I Was the Cat by Paul Tobin
Kaijumax, Season 1 by Zander Cannon
The Sixth Gun, Vol. 1: Cold Dead Fingers by Cullen Bunn
Something to Remember You By by Gene Wilder
Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
Authority by Jeff VanderMeer
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
French Milk by Lucy Knisley
Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays by George Orwell
On Writing by Charles Bukowski
Ballistics: Poems by Billy Collins
Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
Exploration Fawcett: Journey to the Lost City of Z by Percy Harrison Fawcett
Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan

Books Read:
Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer
Captain America: Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan

Where did September go? We had a lot of fun this month, but I hate leaving summer behind. Every day we’re getting closer to freezing dog walks, and I don’t like it.

We started the month off on holiday, which is a pretty good start. The first weekend was spent in Seattle attending PAX West. For those not of the nerdy persuasion, PAX is a video game convention that spans four days and hosts over 70,000 attendees. You can view game-related panels, play new and upcoming games, both tabletop and video, and it’s generally just a fun time. We got to spend the weekend with friends we don’t see often enough, which was great, and of course we played a lot of games and bought a lot of random crap.

It’s always a good place to stock up on nerdy shirts. I also managed to pick up a few video game soundtracks (Journey, Transistor, and a limited edition Psychonauts signed by Tim Schafer) on vinyl despite not having a record player, which I think shows how loose I am with the credit card at these events. We do plan to buy one later this year, though.

Love how stupid these photos turned out. #paxwest2016 #forhonor

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The above photo is probably my favourite from the event. They took each shot five seconds apart, and the idea is to change pose each time, but we were hindered by some helmet issues. Lee-Ann is the only one who didn’t have a wardrobe malfunction, and she rocked each of her stances. Mike and I were not sure which way we were facing.

After a weekend of nerdy fun, we hopped a train over to Portland to spend the rest of the week there. It was our first time in the city, and we loved it. It was a week of great food and relaxation. We basically just wandered aimlessly around the city for most of the week, popping in and out of stores. It was interesting visiting after watching Portlandia. Not that the wackiness in the show is in any way a reality, but you really can see where some of those sketch ideas originate. And they do love to put birds on things.

Tonkotsu ramen, okonomiyaki tots, and greens & sesame.

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We found a sour beer brewery! Very happy.

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I posted earlier about all of the books we bought on the trip, which accounts for the massive list above.

Lastly, we finished the month last week with a local meat and beer event, Brewery and the Beast. A local brewery hosts the event, and dozens of restaurants and farms put up stands and give away small meat dishes. The ticket also includes the beer and wine, although I’m on some medication that limits my drinking, so I was only able to have a single drink. I’ve been to this three or four times now, and it’s always a blast. We had fantastic weather this year as well. The food at the event used to be more interesting, with things like beef heart tartare, but now it’s unfortunately pretty standard fare, although very well executed in most cases. Still a fun event to attend.

Had a blast at Brewery and the Beast last weekend. Wish every weekend was as meaty.

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Movies watched:

TV watched:
Chef’s Table: France (2016) – I loved this. All of the Chef’s Table series are perfectly made, and the episodes in this were some of the best. Wonderful food, interesting stories, and beautiful cinematography and music.

Very British Problems: Season 1 and 2 (2015/2016) – A bunch of comedians riffing on awkward British problems. Apparently I inherited more than a red beard and pale skin from my parents.

BoJack Horseman: Season 3 (2016) – This show just keeps getting better and better, and this season had some really cool episode concepts. I love this series.

Games played:
Destiny (2014) (PC) – I picked this up just before leaving on holiday, and I’m not sure why. The second one is out next year, and this is a weird time to jump in, but I’m loving it so far. I’ve hit the level cap, but I still have a bunch of the story to go through. I’m also enjoying the competitive multiplayer a lot more than I thought I would. I still haven’t attempted a raid yet, but that’ll happen soon I think.

What have you been reading/watching/playing this month?

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The Sea

The SeaThe Sea by John Banville
Published: 2005
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 06:54 (200 pages)

Max Morden is a middle-aged man who has just recently lost his wife to illness, and in his grief has returned to the Irish seaside town where his family used to holiday in his youth. During his time there reflecting on his relationship with his wife, and those awkward final days, his mind goes back to his first childhood relationship that took place in that town many years ago.

This is a beautifully written novel, and I do enjoy a despicable and depressed protagonist, so the combination of the rich descriptions, morose attitude, and nasty internal dialogue really worked for me. Unfortunately, at times, his descriptions became a bit too vivid when he used “warm cheesy smell” to describe the natural musk of multiple characters. I would like that phrase wiped from my mind, please.

Before Anna’s illness I had held my physical self in no more than fond disgust, as most people do – hold their selves, I mean, not mine – tolerant, necessarily of the products of my sadly inescapable humanity, the various effluvia, the eructations fore and aft, the gleet, the scurf, the sweat and other common leakages, and even what the Bard of Hartford quaintly calls the particles of nether-do. However, when Anna’s body betrayed her and she became afraid of it and its alien possibilities, I developed, by a mysterious process of transference, a crawling repugnance of my own flesh.

I found his relationship with his daughter interesting in this. He is awful to her, seemingly forgetting completely that she is hurting too, and it’s a glimpse into that strange moment in life when the child begins to take on responsibility for the parent. This time from the point of view of the parent, a man who considers himself, and is portrayed as being, incredibly self-aware, and yet he doesn’t even seem to notice this happening. He’s depressed and grieving, subscribing to the false idea that the more you suffer the more you cared, and that will make you act and perceive the world in ways you normally wouldn’t, but from the flashbacks to earlier in his life, it seems like he never was the most considerate person.

At times, in the beginning of a scene, it was hard to tell whether we were in the current time or a memory, which is something that would normally bother me, but it worked really well here. The muddiness of the scene transitions really helped past and current events bleed together in a way that made it feel like a single narrative rather than jumping between times.

The past beats inside me like a second heart.

The novel is basically a retelling of the relationships in his life through memories, but it doesn’t really have a plot beyond that. The little motion there is happens in the last 20 or 30 pages. That’s fine, but I think the fact that it was awarded the 2005 Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary prizes we have, made me think it would be spectacular on every level, plot included. You would think that the prize would indicate an entire package, but Max Morden is essentially the same man at the beginning of the book that he was at the end. I suppose that was maybe the point. An incident in his youth has kept him from entering the sea his entire life since, and his failure to enter the sea at the end of the novel may be an indication of his lack of growth, but I really don’t know.

Ignoring the anemic plot, the occasional cliché (twins with a mysterious connection?), and the few strained similes, this was still a pleasure to read. Something I read compared his prose to Nabokov’s, and I do get that. I don’t think Nabokov tried quite as hard to be clever, but I can understand the comparison – every word feels considered. And he can actually write about sex in a way that doesn’t make me want to turn celibate (apart from the warm cheesy smell thing). I do wish I had actually read it, rather than listened to the audiobook, despite John Lee’s fantastic narration. There were many words in this that were unfamiliar to me. I’m fairly certain some of these words had been lost to the modern English language for decades before John Banville decided to bring them back. It would have been nice to look up a few of them as I read.

Despite my few grievances, I really enjoyed this and may have a look at his other novels. He’s written seventeen fictional novels, as well as a seven additional crime novels under a pseudonym, and I’m curious to see how his other novels are structured.

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Double Cup Love

Double Cup LoveDouble Cup Love by Eddie Huang
Published: 2016
Narrated by: Eddie Huang
Length: 05:48 (240 pages)

I really enjoyed parts of Eddie’s first book, Fresh Off the Boat, but it annoyed me quite a bit in places as well. He’s a gifted writer when he’s writing about food, and he has some great insights into culture identity and self-discovery, but I really lost interest when he started bragging about his rebellious youth. His early life story was interesting, but I just couldn’t stand the way he decided to tell it.

This was much more up my alley. After the success of his first book, the restaurant, and the various food travel shows he hosts, he decided to travel to China to experiment with cooking his food for locals, to see how the Taiwanese dishes he grew up with and adapted for his restaurant worked with China-born palates. Would it be unrecognizable? If so, would they still like it? The main dish he was cooking for people was his red pork belly that he uses as a filling for the bao he serves in his restaurant, Baohaus.

It was also interesting to see how he fit in, as an American-born Taiwanese man, which was being tested in much the same way as his food. Like in his television shows, he uses food as a way to break in to a culture, to really learn about people. It’s a very common combination these days, the travel and food documentary or memoir, and it’s something that never bores me when it’s done well.

He framed the memoir with his relationship to his girlfriend. He begins the book explaining how they met, sharing the double cup from the title, and he ends the book with the plan to propose to her in China. It allowed for an interesting mix of culture comparison – the differences between his childhood life in a Chinese immigrant family and visiting her white family home, the differences between him as an American and the Chinese and what his life could have been had his parents remained in the country, and the differences in perception once his girlfriend joins him in China at the end of his trip.

Eddie Huang is very much an acquired taste. In some ways, he’s still a teenager at heart, in the most annoying ways, but there’s something about him that I really like. He’s passionate about investigating cultural divides through food, and he’s good at it. I sometimes disagree with what he’s says and does, but he always feels authentic in a way that makes me want to keep reading. His food writing is brilliant, as well. He can describe the local red pork belly from four different restaurants and you can almost taste the differences between them.

This novel did feel scattered at points, but overall I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to whatever his next book may be.

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We Stand On Guard

We Stand On GuardWe Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan
Format: Deluxe Edition Hardcover
Illustrated by: Steve Skroce, Matt Hollingsworth
Series: We Stand On Guard #1-6
Publisher: Image Comics
Published: 2015
Length: 160 pages

Brian K. Vaughan, author of many loved comics, including Saga, tackles the often joked about idea of the US invading Canada in this six issue limited series. Vaughan lives in Canada with his Canadian wife, but was born and raised in Cleveland, so even though Americans do get painted as the baddies in this, it is one of your own doing it at least.


It’s the year 2124, and major droughts have left the Americans without water, which is now the resource that drives conflict between countries rather than oil. In a desperate act, they invade the north to take control of the great lakes. They’re more technologically advanced, with more funding having gone to their military over the years, and Canada basically gets steamrolled. This series follows a team of Canadian civilians who have banded together as freedom fighters to try to resist America’s continued expansion through the country.

This definitely has a lot of Vaughan’s typically jokey dialogue, which I always enjoy, but it’s quite dark and bleak as well. I think the fact that it’s a miniseries allowed him to not hold back, to keep it fast-paced and surprising, but it also limited how much depth the story could have. It didn’t really allow for much of a connection to be made with most of the characters, so some of the emotional climaxes fell a bit short. The characters were interesting, but they were the sort to grow on you. Normally a good thing, but tricky to pull off in a short work.

Part of what I loved about this, and it may be a superficial thing to admit, was just having Canada in the limelight. We’re a country that has a steady incoming stream of American and British media, so it’s not often that I come across something so Canadian. Vaughan filled the book with Canadiana references – the freedom fighters call themselves the Two-Fours, there’s the old “Regina, the city that rhymes with fun” joke, there’s a future television series called The Littlest Robo. Even just seeing random city names or brand names that you normally wouldn’t come across, or a Terry Fox reference, is just a fun bonus. I wouldn’t want to regularly be pandered to in such a way, but it was a fun change of pace.

Steve Skroce’s art is really great. I wouldn’t say it’s pretty, as in I wouldn’t want this style of illustration hanging on my wall, but it’s very detailed and really captured each scene perfectly – from snowy vistas to green farmlands. The characters were very emotive and you really felt the scale of the technology (did I mention there are giant robots?).


I found this to be really entertaining, particularly for those of us up north. I’m quite happy he managed to give no mention of Tim Hortons as well, which is something we Canadians desperately need to get over. Although, having just written that sentence, I find it nearly impossible that he’d have the will power to leave that out, so I wonder if I’m just being forgetful.

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