Thursday, January 24, 2008

Queen & Country: The Definitive Edition Vol 1

Right now the comics industry is where the music industry was in the 80s, when everyone was re-buying things they already had in the new CD format. I don’t have Queen & Country in trade, which would be rationalization enough for buying this book, but even if I did I think I would pick it up. It’s a beautiful edition in standard trade size. And by ‘trade’ size, I mean it’s the size of a standard trade paperback book, a reduction from the comic book side. Ready for any bookshelf.

Queen & Country is the story of a MI 6 team and of one agent in particular, Tara Chace. It takes us from London to Bosnia, Kabul, Cairo, Rome and Tokyo. The tone is always tense and Rucka does a wonderful job of making us believe that this is what espionage is really like. Akin to the Bourne movies, but without a super agent doing the impossible (the possible is remarkable enough). A better comparison might be the old British TV show Danger Man, with the job’s tensions spilling out into their personal lives. Chace comes across as an everyman – everywoman – kind of hero. She's very good at her job and has enough ambition to want to get out there and see a job through, but still seems like someone you might know (at least until Fernandez comes in). She’s backed with a strong cast headed by Paul Crocker, the Director of operations and her immediate superior. Through his constant running battles/inter-office meetings we're shown the innately political side of this work, something most spy books pass over.

The original artist was Steve Rolston, who really set the tone for many fans, including myself. Eventually Leandro Fernandez stepped in and suddenly Chace is a bombshell. A secret agent who could be the next Adriana Lima. For a lot of fans, myself included, it was a bit of a shock. A let down, really, because she looked like all too many comic book heroines. A part from the women, who all share the same basic body type, Fernandez art has a lot to recommend it. Its sharp and bold, reminding me a little of Risso, but I think it’s odd that some people found Rolston too cartoony when Fernandez’s is no more realistic.

Like the first four issues, this edition comes with a wonderful cover by Time Sale.

An intelligent and compelling series.


Westside Goth said...

i've become quite a fan of Greg Rucka's and bought this. i agree about the art.

if you like this series you should check out Rucka's checkmate. the first few issues are a bit rocky as he has to establish such a large cast and organization within the DCU but around the second major arc, Pawn 502, the series really starts to take off. some people have said the book reads better in trade but i wouldn't know.

David Bird said...

I have my eye on the first two trades. They look good.

Westside Goth said...

the third trade comes out in april or march. the arcs pretty good. i'm looking forward to this upcoming arc to find out about the Rooks.

oh, and next week i think the outsiders/checkmate crossover trade comes out. i skipped that and probably won't pick up the trade. i just don't like Judd Winick. but the actual checkmate series told me the little i needed to know about it.