5.02.2008

Graphic Novel Of The Month

Queen & Country: Definitive Edition: Volume 2 (Oni Press): Tara Chace’s life is a mess. This volume really catalyzes the accelerating pace of her downward spiral. Her missions are becoming increasingly problematic, the moral ambiguity permeating all aspects of her service to queen and country. In this single volume, Tara finds herself with not one, but two, dead colleagues – one of whom she was sleeping with. This double-tap sets up a trifecta of deaths that ultimately culminates with mentor/lover Tom Wallace dying in one of Rucka’s prose novels set in the Q&C universe. As if that wasn’t enough, Tara begins to use alcohol more and more as a means of managing her emotions and the trauma of both her physical losses and lack of validation from her superiors. She’s then confronted with the dichotomy of her friend’s Euro-trash lifestyle, reminded of her own sacrifice of her youthful innocence. If the first definitive edition was largely setting up this world of espionage, the loose “rules” of basic tradecraft, and Tara’s place in it, then this volume focuses more on her character arc and an emotional journey. It’s here that Tara really starts to become an outsider to her own life, so begins the descent into her own personal hell. Queen & Country is simply the most compelling and gripping series of its kind. It is the rare work that has the versatility to erupt with violence, while taking its audience on a slow deliberate character journey with a strong emotional undercurrent. For every scene that hums with acronyms and spy lingo, for every quirky and endearing bit of British humor, there is the quiet lonely scene of introspection that allows us to consider our own human frailties no matter where we reside, regardless of our own occupation. I’m deeply saddened to see this series go; it’s basically everything I want in a comic book. Like Tara, I’m dealing with my own complex emotions surrounding losing something that I don’t truly appreciate fully until it’s… poof… gone. Thank goodness for Oni Press canonizing this book in a second round of collected editions in a dirt cheap, beautiful format. This is the equivalent of three regular trade paperbacks worth of material in a groovy digest sized format for a mere 20 bones. Buy it right now. Grade A+.

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