The Old Guard Book One: Opening Fire
Greg Rucka, writer; Leandro Fernández, art & cover; Daniel Miwa, colors; Jodi Wynee, letters
Image Comics, 2017

Co-creators Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández present their take on immortality. It's a lot like the Highlander universe, in that the gift of immortality is unpredictable, and fellow immortals feel the presence of others (in dreams in this case). But beyond that there are no rules. Immortals can die, but there is no certain method for killing them; so life is more uncertain, more mortal. And there is no competition to be the last, no "in the end there can be only one."

The Old Guard is a group of immortals who have always made their was as soldiers. So in the modern world they have banded together as mercenaries. In the past they have always moved on before anyone could guess their secret, but that has become increasingly difficult in a connected world. A "small world" is not conducive to keeping secrets. Mortals lusting for immortality have always coveted their gift. Since it is a mystery to the immortals themselves, it is not something they can share.

But that will not stop a very rich man who has learned of their existence, and will do whatever it takes to gain their gift for himself. His quest drives this entire miniseries, but of course there is much more than that driving the story. It relates a great deal of history of the immortals, including the most recent addition to the team, a U.S. soldier thought killed in Afghanistan. The path to their betrayal includes a former CIA operative and betrayal by a trusted member of the team. The fight to extricate themselves is epic, and its success never feels guaranteed.

Rucka excels at writing this kind of action, which at times recalls both his Queen And Country espionage series and his Atticus Kodiak novels about a professional bodyguard. Fernández provides distinctive character designs--his characters are very identifiable, and not perfect beautiful physical specimens--as well as kinetic action sequences. His work recalls Eduardo Risso's memorable artwork on Vertigo's 100 Bullets. The final page promises "The Old Guard Will Return." I hope so. Still plenty of stories to tell with these characters.

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