Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Queen & Country

What can you say about a comic like this? It's honestly a comic unlike any other. A spy comic about people. Not about action, or gadgets, or wooing foreign scientists into your bed, and definitly not about vodka martinis-shaken-not-stirred. It's a comic about people. People who happen to be involved in the dead serious game of international espionage.

Frankly, Queen & Country is a comic that reads like it should be a television series. The dialogue is snappy, the action is fast moving...but pauses, when pauses need to be made. I had one woman look at my book and say to me today, "What is that? One of those comics without words?". She was looking at two pages in the first TPB in which the main character, Tara Chace, is fleeing from several soldiers. Without words or cartoony sound effects the scene perfectly captured the speed, drama, and emotional weight of a scene in which the main character flees for her life.

Now, don't think I'm coming at this comic as a newbie. I've been reading Q&C for a couple years now. Only in TPB form, true, but I've read all seven of them (Broken Ground through to Dandelion, as well as Declassified), and I look at the Scriptbook as a true masterpiece (it and two or three comics are what I generally look at when I'm stuck on how to script a page or panel for Project Beowulf). So this is all to say that I've had time to let my thoughts on Q&C percolate.

It is probably one of the most personal comics I've read. That is to say, one that focuses solely on the emotions of the characters. The plot behind each arc revolves around a given mission, yes, but the real focus is on the characters. The entire second arc was built around Tara recovering from her first assasination job...not physically (she was physically ready to go before the end of the first arc), but emotionally and psychologically. The spies, the Minders, of the SIS don't just walk into a room and gun four men down with a signature Walther PPK. Every death has its own set of repercussions, even when the person was killed in self defense.

It's easily one of my favourite comics out there, and one of the few that I will purchase a TPB for without looking inside (the others being...well, Planetary, reprints of Morrison's Doom Patrol, Powers, Astro City, Fables, and Girl Genius). If you haven't read it yet, the first book is Operation: Broken Ground, and can be found in the Oni Press section of your FLGS/FLCS. If not, you can probably order it off Amazon.


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