Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce’s “We Stand On Guard” #5 poises the miniseries for next month’s conclusion, as the Two-Four cell ups the attacks against the American forces. While the main storyline is perfectly nice, it’s the little details and supporting characters who have the big draw.
That’s not to say Amber and the rest of the Two-Four are chopped liver. Rather, they’re all still coming across very one-note, even as the miniseries begins drawing to a close. Amber is tough, and the rest of the freedom cell continue to put everything on the line as they attack the Americans. However, five issues in, it’s hard to get a grasp on who they are aside from people trying their hardest. Ironically, it’s some of the more supporting characters — like Amber’s imprisoned brother Thomas — who make strong impressions in a much smaller and more limited space. Thomas’s conversation with Chief McFadden is both fascinating and attention-grabbing; these little glimpses of what life is like as a prisoner, or how much some members of the American army will swallow before an order, makes them perform a double-take. The overall world of “We Stand On Guard” is ultimately the best thing about the script, over its heroes.
On the other hand, Skroce’s art is on-point from start to finish here. There are so many little details painstakingly drawn in “We Stand on Guard” #5, from the rows of vegetables in the Prince Edward Island’s detainment center to the individual bits of snow that move under the feet and legs of the falling soldiers. Skroce is just as good with the big moments too, like huge amounts of exploding rock during an attack or the determined look on Amber’s face as she goes up against every obstacle in her path. Once again, we’re reminded how much of a loss it is when Skroce isn’t working in comics; this book just looks great.
“We Stand on Guard” #5 is a good book, but it feels like it’s never quite getting to the point of great. Maybe, if it had been setup for a longer stretch of issues, Vaughan would have felt he had the room to make this feel a bit more robust. Instead, the book moves forward well enough, but the hints of potential there are almost frustrating because you see how much more engrossing it could have become.