The Old Guard Tales Through Time #1 Featured Reviews 

“The Old Guard: Tales Through Time” #1

By | April 22nd, 2021
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Best for existing fans of the main series, these looks into the lives of militant immortals across the ages can prove entertaining for newcomers to “The Old Guard” as well.

Cover by Leandro Fernández
Written by Greg Rucka and Andrew Wheeler
Illustrated by Leandro Fernández and Jacopo Camagni
Colored by Daniela Miwa
Lettered by Jodi Wynne


The bestselling, critically acclaimed THE OLD GUARD, now a hit Netflix movie starring Charlize Theron, returns with all-new stories by writers GREG RUCKA, VITA AYALA, BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, KELLY SUE DeCONNICK, MATT FRACTION, DAVID F. WALKER, and more, and artists LEANDRO FERNANDEZ, HORACIO ALTUNA, RICK BURCHETT, VALENTINE DE LANDRO, JUSTIN GREENWOOD, KANO, NICOLA SCOTT, and more!

Andromache the Scythian-a warrior over six thousand years old, who has fought more battles than she cares to remember-has kept one constant companion through her long lifetime of combat…her labrys. Andy’s battle axe takes many forms, and many lives, in its centuries at her side, a story told by THE OLD GUARD creators GREG RUCKA & LEANDRO FERNANDEZ.

Meanwhile, Nicolo “Nicky” di Genova and Yusuf “Joe” al-Kaysani, lovers since they tried (and failed) to kill each other in the First Crusade, spend an evening at Berlin’s famed Eldorado nightclub in the twilight era of 1932, sharing drinks with drag queens and fistfighting Nazis in an all-new story by writer ANDREW WHEELER (Another Castle: Grimoire) and JACOPO CAMAGNI (NOMEN OMEN)!

As an anthology miniseries, the storytelling of “The Old Guard: Tales Through Time” #1, first part in a collection connected to the overall “The Old Guard” series, is a bit eclectic, and so, due to two very different stories taking place within its pages, it seems prudent to focus on each of the two stories, ‘My Mother’s Axe’ and ‘Zanzibar and Other Harbors,’ one at a time, then look at the elements they have in common.

With ‘My Mother’s Axe,’ Greg Rucka does not do much to move his plot forward or tell us all that much of import that we did not already know. The storytelling is rather static, focused nearly exclusively on flashback, though perhaps that was all that was needed. As it is, Andy’s discussion of the origins of the eponymous axe, her signature weapon, allude heavily to the Ship of Theseus thought experiment that has, as of the publication, recently become prominent in public consciousness through its use in the WandaVision television show. On the surface, it may be enough, and a way of looking into the mentality of the millennia-old warrior. However, Rucka seems to rely too heavily on the reader’s ability to discern the truth of the situation and read between the lines. In the process, rather than come to any sort of conclusion, Rucka just focuses on saying that it is the same axe despite evidence to the contrary, rather than explaining any deeper. In the process, the result feels rather cheapened and pointless, as while both “it is” and “it is not” are stated, there is no outright examination of what any of it really means, effectively playing lip service to the thought experiment without actually looking any further. Perhaps that is the point, as Andy is not a philosopher, but if so, why have her be the one to focus on when talking about such things?

In contrast to the relatively meaningless story itself, Leandro Fernández does a very good job of understanding the focus of the tale itself. The artwork focuses heavily on the eponymous weapon, on the ways it changes and advances with the times. Even when others are in the scene, concentration of the art itself keeps the axe front and center in a very Charles Foster Kane way. It may not be sapient, but the axe is treated almost as a character in its own right through the artwork alone, with particular concentration on the violence it is a part of, though the calmer moments are also important in their own way.

With ‘Zanzibar and Other Harbors,’ Andrew Wheeler tells a simpler, but perhaps better-handled tale of love in the 1930s. The story itself is easy to grasp even for newcomers, and while it does not give a lot of additional details about Nicky or Joe, the two immortal lovers steal the show nonetheless much as they did during their focus scenes in the main series. Wheeler’s plot is violent but compassionate, showcasing how these two men deal with the changing times. More than in the main series, there is focus on not only what is done in the shadows, but instead what is done to positively influence lives over the course of decades. Rather than leave the informal “guard” and their place in history as entirely morally ambiguous, Wheeler gives a chance for us to see a definite good they can perform that is not entirely focused on themselves.

Continued below

Jacopo Camagni’s artwork is far less stylized than it is in “Nomen Omen,” but still remains more detailed for interpersonal confrontations than that of Fernández. The heavier focus on facial details helps to emphasize how individuals may interact with one another, as well as how they may be seen in even calm situations, rather than centered around violence. Yes, there is violence in this story, but Camagni’s artwork uses it to tell the story as a smaller part, rather than it being the focus. Emotional reactions are at the core of this tale in 1932 Berlin, and while not all is well and good, the overall effect of the artwork, combined with Wheeler’s writing, points toward liveliness in one way or another regardless of how much of a physical fight is going on.

Continuing in the colorist position since the dawn of “The Old Guard” in 2017, Daniela Miwa’s contribution ties the two different stories together. The color palette Miwa utilizes helps even action-oriented scenes feel calm and somber, as if a light sedative for the readership. In general, the color choices Miwa makes show to illustrate a key element of “The Old Guard” itself: these characters may be centuries old, but they are not out in the open, so while they can make an impact, it is rarely for long, and most often not on a global scale to the point of being noticed.

Final Verdict: 7.0– The artwork definitely holds up, but on the whole, these tales do not feel they are worth the reader’s time beyond the basic desire to see these characters again.

Gregory Ellner

Greg Ellner hails from New York City. He can be found on Twitter as @GregoryEllner or over on his Tumblr.