By the time I could read this graphic novel, which collects the first five issues of The Old Guard, I’d already seen the movie on Netflix twice. If you followed me on social media last August, you know I was pretty obsessed. So, it’s difficult for me to talk about the graphic novel in isolation, especially when I like the film version of the story so much better.
Rucka also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. I wonder how much of his changes are a result of wanting to improve upon the story he told and how much was “imposed” on him by the other producers. Plenty of the elements from the graphic novel that I did adore are in the film, such as Andy’s opening speech and “the van scene.” And ultimately, a lot of the graphic novel’s highlights from the epic finale are there, just remixed in a way that supports the story changes.
Separating it from the context of the film, I’m honestly not sure how much I would like this book on its own. I find the characters and concept fascinating, and I’ve always been interested in different takes on immortality and how they affect a person’s life and world view. The villain is both one-dimensional and yet terrifyingly realistic. I appreciate heroes who are both righteous and flawed. Rucka gets major bonus points for diversity that never feels forced, and Fernandez draws stunning panels of violence that are precisely as gory as they need to be.
In short, I adore this film and highly recommend that any speculative fiction fans check it out. But I find I can only recommend the graphic novel to people who are genuinely interested in the source material, can comfortably spend the money, and are already familiar with the graphic novel storytelling medium.