Sunday, February 26, 2017

"The Old Guard Review

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"The Old Guard" #1 from Image Comics -

     Andy is immortal. And she feels all of it. All of the wars, all of the loves, all of the deaths, all of the years - they hang upon her like a boulder, pulling her down into the depths of a sea of loneliness and regret. Yet, she is not alone. Three others, Nicky, Joe and Booker, are men who share Andy's immortal life as well, not as lovers, but as comrades in arms. Time, pain, war, love, and remorse - these have made them aloof, isolated, numb, yet, they still take up arms as mercenaries, warriors for hire, and they are the best in the world. They are highly skilled, and they cannot die. They work in secret, seeking to hide their immortality from the world in order to have some semblance of a normal life. However, when an old C.I.A. contact comes calling, that might just change forever. Andy and her team are contracted to head into Africa on a mission of mercy to save some kidnapped school girls and avenge the murders of their teachers; however, there is more to this mission than meets the eye. And, in Afghanistan, a young soldier named Nile Freeman dies after having her throat slit by an insurgent during a cordon and knock op...But she wakes up, recovering totally unharmed. Is she a new immortal? What does this mean for Nile, and how is she connected to Andy and her group of immortal mercs? What does it mean for them all, and for the world, if their immortality is dragged into the cold light of day?

   Greg Rucka is back again with this supernatural, clandestine, action-drama, "The Old Guard." From the outset of the reader is drawn into the story by being drawn directly into the melancholy thoughts of the protagonist, Andy. Her mind is introduced to us as she narrates a short into about how life, endless life, has exhausted her, and how sweet death has escaped her time and time again. These are bolstered by some gorgeous, visceral images of war, death and sex penciled masterfully be Leandro Fernández. I was captivated from the very first page because the tone that Rucka and Fernández set was like a drumbeat, slow and sad, that I could feel - it was almost hypnotic. Soon we are introduced to Andy's team of immortals, and even though the reader can sense that there is a strong bond between them, we know who is totally, and unquestionably, in charge. We really do not get much backstory on Andy and her group, just that they have lived for thousands of years, and that they are really good at mayhem for money. It seems that they live a life of privilege, making lots of money running clandestine ops, and it seems they live a life of emotional solitude as well, only being truly attached to one another, as all other attachments wither and fade away. They are ghosts, seeking to keep their immortality a secret - but all secrets come out eventually. Further north, a young heroic soldier, Nile Freeman, loses her life in combat and resurrects. I imagine that her take on immortality will be very different from Andy's. Will Andy take her in? Or will the government use her as a weapon against Andy's group if their secret is discovered? How is she connected to Andy's group, and why now, after thousands of years, has another immortal finally appeared? Greg Rucka has written this story tightly, answering some questions, keeping others just out of reach, and populating his story with interesting protagonists on gripping journeys. And Leandro Fernández's art is wonderful - the faces are distinct, the action sequences are jarring, the locations are gorgeous and busy, and his creation of the female form is just a bit Manara-like in its execution. I love this book, and I cannot wait for more.

RATING: 10 out 10. "The Old Guard" looks like it will be another Rucka hit.

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