Saturday, March 01, 2008

Queen and Country Definitive Edition Volume 1 - A Review

I recently did a review of Wanted; back a few months ago I reviewed White Out, now I want to share my views on Queen & Country. This material was originally done in 2001 I believe and has been traded before and I have just never gotten around to reading it until recently. I saw this new version advertised and enjoyed the Definitive Edition of White Out, love the trades from BOOM Studios in this size, have enjoyed Greg Rucka’s work at DC and knew I need to get around to reading this material.

Queen & Country - Volume 1 – Writer Greg Rucka, Artists Steve Rolston, Brian Hurtt, Leandro Fernandez, Christine Norrie, Bryan Lee O’Malley & Stan Sakai Cover Art Tim Sale

First off let me say that the size and packing of the book is very well done. It is a 6x9 size and it is a perfect book size and is comfortable book to read. The art is smaller then comic size, but does not suffer because of the smaller size. At over 340 pages it works really well to carry with you to read in bed, a chair or if the weather was better on a deck. Also it is high quality paper and an excellent reproduction.

Next of course is the story itself. I always feel bad that I missed such great material for a long period of time, but I can’t read everything and I go through cycles of how much I get. (Lately I’m at a ridiculously high end of the cycle and need to cull my list with a machete.) The current cycle has included buying material that is old but being re-offered or repackaged. Queen and Country is one of those projects and I’m really enjoying this series.

I have read Operation: Broken Ground and Operation: Morningstar and have started Operation: Crystal Ball. The central character is Tara Chace an Agent for covert operations with England. When we first meet her she is to assassinate a Russian mobster and then the repercussions of that operation are felt throughout book one and impact heavily on book two. It feels like what a true covert operation would be run like and the people feel very real. Often the best fiction is material that you think could actually be happening. The characters in Greg’s book are well defined and as you get to know them their reactions are expected as you would know how a co-worker would react in a given situation.

The artwork is interesting as we have three different art teams on each storyline. Each brings his own vision to the series and therefore we lose consistency in the character's appearance. This was especially jarring with the last storyline as Tara was portrayed as a decent looking woman, but not drop dead gorgeous. In the third book she is an absolute bombshell and for me it changed the tone of her character into something different. I have not completed the third story yet, but it just makes her a different character in mind so far.

My final impression is that the Queen & Country Definitive Edition is a hit and I’m looking forward to volumes #2, #3 and #4. It is easy to see why this book won the awards it has and has garnered the critical acclaim that it has. It is a well written, well drawn novel of espionage, politics and personal relations, with characters that are as real as fictional character can be.

Again I hate coming in late, but with any good novel who cares if it was written in 1914, 1964 or 2001. Well done material has a shelf life that can last decades or more and Queen and Country is of that caliber.

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