Review: The Old Guard #5 (Pride Variant)

Image Comics is celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2017, and among their many forms of celebration are the Image and Skybound variant covers for LGBTQ Pride Month. Available only in stores, the variants celebrate the LGBTQ community and the progress made by the Gay Liberation movement. 100% of the proceeds from the Pride variant covers will be donated to Human Rights Campaign! And Geeks OUT is reviewing them all!

It’s once more unto the breach with The Old Guard as the story picks up in the immediate aftermath of Booker's betrayal and shooting of Andy and Nile. Andy takes advantage of a monologuing Copley before a fraught gun battle, then performs one final act of mercy and a daring window escape.

Writer Greg Rucka does an expert job reinventing typical action set pieces in this issue and uses his main character's immortality to his advantage while doing so. Instead of falling into a physics-defying swimming pool or some other contrivance, Andy, Nile, and Booker simply smash onto the pavement thirty-four floors below. This sequence also highlights Leandro Fernández's art as he frames Andy and Nile closer as they fall, a subtle way of illustrating their deepening relationship as the series has gone on. Daniela Miwa's colors begin with the soft blues of the evening sky and transition to lighter colors for the street and light below before ending with a splash of red as the three land painfully on the ground (or a car, in Nile's case).

This issue has its fair share of dark comedy to balance out all the melancholy about the pain of living forever. Nicky and Joe show a fair share of wit while being kept as prisoners/lab rats by Merrick, and Andy and Booker take out their frustrations by pointlessly shooting each other (a trope that is hardly ever not funny). This leads to us learning details about Booker's family that were hinted at back in issue #3; he was speaking from personal experience as he detailed how these relationships fall apart in horrifying detail. His motivations are wrapped up in wanting his life to end, but Andy reveals that what she wants is "something to live for."

This principle of life having meaning through devotion to something outside of oneself is best exemplified with the relationship between Joe and Nicky. Issue #3 also had Joe's heartfelt declaration of love in the back of an armored car, one of the most purely romantic moments of any action story. Unfortunately, they spend most of this issue being tortured off-panel, a harsh reminder of how Image has been treating its queer characters lately.

Is this how this story needed to play out? Especially during Pride month and in a political climate that seeks to curb LGBT progress? Yes, it gave us that beautiful scene in the armored car, the characters get their revenge and a chance to kick ass, and their humiliation is never explicitly shown. But Greg Rucka helped establish that Wonder Woman is queer, and he spends the rest of the issue taking pains to subvert tropes that are much less damaging.

Eventually, the team escapes and has their revenge. Booker is exiled, since there's no real way to harm him. The inside back cover promises that The Old Guard will return. Here's hoping Nick and Joe get treated better next time.

The Pride variant of The Old Guard #5 is available in comic books shops today!
Devin Whitlock's picture
on June 21, 2017

I've enjoyed comics since I was ten years old, but won't reveal how long ago that was. I'm a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago, and can usually be found at a local bar with a book in one hand and a drink in the other. I'm so happy to be contributing to Geeks OUT!