The Old Guard

Old Guard Issues #1 to 3

Publisher: Image

Writer: Greg Rucka

Artist: Leandro Fernandez

Colors: Daniela Miwa

Letters: Jodi Wynne

Review by PeteR

I mentioned in an earlier review that Image Comics has become the place to go for creators who have ideas that do not fit the mainstream populace. Image is publishing comic books that challenge the current norms of what kind of stories can be presented in a graphic format. Old Guard by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez is an amazing example of the possibilities and potential our industry can provide.

Old Guard is about immortals or at least, almost immortals. The main characters are mercenaries who all share the bond of longevity. When a new “immortal’ is sired they are drawn to them through their dreams. They are led by Andy (Andronika), a woman who has been alive and fighting since before the Byzantine Empire. Along with her three companions, Booker, Nicky and Joe they have traveled the globe selling their services to those who can afford it.

One of the challenges of being immortal is how to keep that a secret in an ever shrinking world. The internet and various surveillance agencies makes hiding more and more difficult with each passing generation. Fighting wars for other people or countries increases the likelihood of discovery. Having their true natures revealed exposes Andy and her crew to those who covet gaining immortality by any means available.  Note, this is not a funny-book. It is not a title for children. Be prepared to be challenged and possibly shocked.

Greg Rucka knows how to write stories about warriors. Whether it’s his Atticus Kodiak novels, the comic series Wonder Woman, Queen & Country, or Whiteout, Rucka’s narratives are great. He addresses the ambivalence of professional soldiers. How they can be trapped between duty and the ineptitude of command structures. The sacrifice that is made by people governed by commitment. His characterizations are thorough and compelling. His plots are twisty labyrinths of betrayal and obligation.

The art is by Leandro Fernandez, known for his work on the Punisher Max series, X-Factor and Northlanders. He has worked with Greg Rucka previously on a Queen & Country story arc. In Old Guard, his artwork reminds me of Eduardo Risso with his use of negative space and heavy inks. He is able to convincingly illustrate a battlefield, a bistro in Paris or a firefight in a stairwell with equal brilliance.

Why you should buy this book? If the words “it’s written by Greg Rucka,” doesn’t have you already in route to your local comic store, you need to expand your reading habits. This series is perfect for fans of Highlander, The Eternal Warrior or the Casca novels. In some ways the series feels like the show 24 at its strongest. The history and possible fates of the protagonists make for forceful reading. It is definitely a book that I have looked forward to each month since it started.

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