Every week, Big Issues focuses on a newly launched comic-book concern of significance. This week, it’s The Outdated Guard #four. Written by Greg Rucka (Marvel Lady, Lazarus) with artwork by Leandro Fernández (The Self-discipline, The Names) and colours by Daniela Miwa (Doc Savage, Shaft), this concern explores the ache of everlasting life by the action-packed expertise of 5 immortal troopers. (This evaluate reveals main plot factors.)
“The Outdated Guard” is the nickname for the oldest active-duty regiment within the U.S. Military, however the third U.S. Infantry Regiment has nothing on the workforce of immortal troopers on the middle of The Outdated Guard. The group’s chief, Andy, has been alive since historical Greece. Two of its members have been on opposing sides in the course of the Crusades. These characters have lived by many wars, however they’ve lastly encountered a real menace to their survival: a sociopathic businessman who needs to find the key to everlasting life for himself. However possibly dying isn’t such a nasty factor.
Greg Rucka’s story for The Outdated Guard is rooted within the tragedy of immortality, and these characters have all suffered limitless loss as a result of life by no means stops for them. Every concern reveals new particulars in regards to the previous, and it forces artist Leandro Fernández to attract all kinds of characters, areas, and cultures because the story takes huge jumps forwards and backwards by the timeline. Rucka beforehand labored with Fernández greater than a decade in the past on Queen & Nation and Wolverine, and so they’ve each grown significantly in that point. Rucka has written for thus many various artists that he’s developed a expertise for crafting tales that play to his collaborators’ particular strengths, and Fernández has made main leaps refining his linework and composition with out dropping the daring graphic components that energize his art work.
Daniela Miwa’s vibrant pastel coloring is completely surprising for a high-octane motion thriller, and the extra figurative palette works nicely with Fernández’s linework to set the tone and amplify the stress. The flat rendering of brilliant colours intensifies the distinction of the inks, and whereas the coloring is loud, it by no means distracts from what Fernández has placed on the web page. It’s arduous to not examine The Outdated Guard to Rucka’s different two ongoing Picture sequence, Lazarus and Black Magick, and every has a definite storytelling voice and artwork fashion that separates it from the others. Fernández’s exaggerated art work and Miwa’s expressive coloring give The Outdated Guard a drastically completely different look from what the artwork groups of these different sequence are doing, and Rucka tells a extra dynamic, rapidly paced story to capitalize on the power within the visuals.
All three of Rucka’s Picture ongoings have been optioned for improvement by Hollywood manufacturing firms, with the primary two being tailored for tv whereas The Outdated Guard would land on the massive display. It’s frequent apply for creators to make use of comics to promote concepts to Hollywood, and Rucka has concepts that may translate simply from one medium to the opposite, however nonetheless benefit from the distinctive storytelling alternatives of comics. Plenty of this comes from trusting his artists and letting their particular person voices come by loud and clear, and the opening scene of this concern is a good instance of how Fernández deepens the narrative with visible tips that might be tough to copy in stay motion.
This quiet scene of Andy and Nile speaking on a cliff in Les Baux-De-Provence appears on the inside battle Nile is coping with after being advised she ought to abandon her household or threat even better heartbreak sooner or later. The 2 ladies bond as Andy shares her personal ache and gives some recommendation, particularly that Nile take excellent care of her smartphone as a result of photographs of her family members are priceless mementos that the remainder of the immortals by no means had. The 2 characters are visually linked by being in silhouette, and preserving them in that very same body for 5 panels highlights every shift of their physique language, which progressively brings them nearer collectively. A chook flies previous within the background, including depth of discipline to the in any other case flat panels whereas additionally creating a way of ahead motion, which picks up as extra birds seem. The ultimate shot of Andy standing alone within the midst of those birds is a superbly serene portrait of the character, and the light pink, orange, and purple colours give the reader some softness earlier than Andy returns to her arduous, lengthy life.
Rucka is aware of how one can write compelling narration that flows easily, and Andy’s interior monologue elucidates key themes whereas offering essential items of details about the very lengthy historical past of the characters. The reader is in the identical place as new recruit Nile, studying extra about this group within the midst of a serious disaster that’s getting worse with each concern. Andy has an advanced relationship along with her reminiscence, and as a lot as she needs she might regain the reminiscences she’s misplaced, she’s additionally bitter in regards to the reminiscences she does have, reminding her of individuals she used to care about. A type of individuals was Atticus, a slave in Virginia who fought for the British in the course of the Revolutionary Conflict, lived in poverty in London, and ultimately met Andy when he was on the run from the regulation within the Australian bush. (All this earlier than he was 30.)
The opening web page of the Atticus flashback is filled with good choices that heighten the emotion of every panel. It opens with a panel displaying Atticus in his prime, fading in from the white background as Andy’s reminiscence conjures this good picture of him. Panels are laid on prime of this idealized Atticus, a delicate contact that signifies that that is the model of Atticus on the basis of Andy’s opinion of him, and it doesn’t change when she’s speaking about him as a slave or as a vagrant on the streets of London. The panel borders aren’t straight traces as a result of that is an unstable reminiscence, and every picture focuses on expressing a selected emotion as a result of, because the narration states in the beginning of the difficulty, Andy’s reminiscences have change into extra in regards to the feeling of a sure time reasonably than what really occurred in actuality.
This concern’s motion sequences aren’t as large as a few of the fights in earlier points, however that doesn’t make them any much less highly effective. There’s one web page particularly that showcases how good artistic selections intensify the influence of motion beats. Joe and Nicky (the aforementioned troopers within the Crusades) have been captured by the maniacal Steve Merrick, and so they briefly achieve the higher hand when he tries to stab them. Then Joe will get shot within the head and the tide turns towards them once more. The headshot is depicted in silhouette with Joe falling ahead into thick, jagged velocity traces, after which Fernández pulls again to indicate a view of the convention room from outdoors the window, giving a wider shot of the chaos that erupts after the bullets begin flying. That panel is very notable due to how the borders of the window proceed to interrupt down the motion into smaller moments from left to proper, and letterer Jodi Wynne places the “Bang! Bang!” sound results behind the window borders to strengthen the concept the viewer is watching and listening to this from a distance. The ultimate panel of Joe being stabbed again and again is proven from Joe’s perspective, and the manic fury of villain Steve Merrick is much more extreme when proven from his low angle.
Rucka has been spending plenty of time exploring the thought of battle from completely different angles in the course of the previous yr: Lazarus takes a extra grounded, political method in its present World Conflict storyline; Marvel Lady makes use of superhero fantasy to discover battle as a extra summary idea; and The Outdated Guard delves into the lasting trauma of battle by the expertise of characters who can by no means cease combating. The Outdated Guard #four ends with a cliffhanger that blows up the established character dynamics, and it’s a betrayal that will get again to the curse of immortality that’s at this sequence’ core. Life by no means ends for these characters, and if they’d an opportunity to finish their struggling, why wouldn’t they take it? For one member of this workforce, betrayal is an affordable act if it signifies that his everlasting battle can finish, and Rucka has completed such sturdy work establishing the tragedy of those characters’ existence that this motivation makes complete sense.