In February 2017, writer Greg Rucka and artist Leandro Fernandez will introduce The Old Guard, a new ongoing comic book from Image, which tells the story of immortal warriors struggling through the battlefield of the modern age. It’s an idea that Rucka had been playing with for a long time. “I had written a story for a horror anthology, years and years ago, that was kind of about the idea that there were these soldiers that never died, that these spirits go on and on.”
But for Rucka, some of the ideas at the core of The Old Guard are more personal. “It was influenced, in no small part, by the passing of my father, and the issues of morality and mortality that are raised in that.” The protagonist of The Old Guard, Andy, has been fighting for thousands of years, since the days of Ancient Greece. (Her actual name is “Andronika the Scythian.”) “She’s got a good 5,000 years under her belt. She’s seen it all. She’s been just about everywhere. Our main character is tired,” Rucka explains. “She’s been around a really long time. It is long since past the novelty phase.”
Rucka’s currently working on Wonder Woman, and points out, “I love writing these badass warrior women.” Andy’s background is more rooted in history, based on the Herodotus Amazons, “these mountaineer warriors who came screaming out of the Caucasus and ranged everywhere from the northern portions of Eastern Europe, down through the Mediterranean, even through North Africa.
Andy leads a crew of other long-lived soldiers, with three longtime compatriots and a newcomer. Two members of the Guard came from the first Crusade, an Italian Knight and a Moore. “They have the only meet-cute,” Rucka jokes. “They keep killing each other, and then they wake up again, which resulted in them going, ‘This is pointless.'” There’s also Booker, a thief from France in the late 1400s. “He was hung by the neck until he didn’t die,” Rucka explains. They’re joined by a new member, a young black woman serving in the US Marine Corps, who pops up on the team’s radar when she survives an apparently fatal incident.
The book is narrated by Andy, who frequently discusses her long history – an especially exciting challenge for Fernandez. “There will be flashbacks to ancient times,” promises the artist. “There will be a relationship between now and what happens before. Different conflicts, different wars.” That requires a lot of research, and the comic’s historical basis extends to the immortal characters living the present day. “I want the [look of the ] characters to tell something about where they come from, and the period of time where they belong,” explains Fernandez.
The characters in The Old Guard might live practically forever, but the first story won’t last quite that long. “”The main idea is to make a first volume of five issues, which will have an ending,” says Fernandez, who also teases, “There will be back-up stories.” Future arcs would theoretically run for five issues each, and Rucka already has notes for three further volumes. To get excited for The Old Guard, check out these colored pages from issue #1.