& Country: Operation Broken Ground
face it: James Bond is the worst "secret" agent
ever. Everyone knows his name, the kind of gun he uses, and
even the way he likes his drinks.
James was busy giving one of his female classmates "French
lessons" during Undercover 101 at the MI:6 training school.
He also has this pesky tendency to get captured by every multi-billionaire,
evil maniacal genius he comes across, and then escapes only
through the inability of said maniacal geniuses to stay in
the death trap room.
am I ragging on everyone's favorite promiscuous secret agent?
To introduce you to someone who does it right: Tara Chase
of Greg Rucka's Queen & Country: Operation Broken Ground,
a collection of the first story arc of this popular Oni Press
writes one of the finest spy stories in comics, which doesn't
surprise since Rucka has shown himself to be an expert at
writing comics based in the real world in his other comic
classic Whiteout, and its sequel Whiteout: Melt. The same
sense of realism is present when he writes about the British
Intelligence Services in Q&C, giving the reader a glimpse
at the dirty work that goes on behind the scenes (i.e. it's
not all martinis and black tie affairs; in fact, it almost
is an operative for MI:6 and is a member of a special task
force called the Minders. They are operatives so dangerous
that their own government won't allow them to be armed while
within the United Kingdom. These are the people who will be
air-dropped into a foreign country to assassinate someone
who really needs some killing, and then be expected to make
it back all by their lonesome. Yes, they are that good.
boss, and Director of Operations, Paul Crocker has sent her
on an unsanctioned mission to take out Russian mobster Igor
Grigorivich Markovsky in Kosovo, as a favor to the C.I.A.
One clean hole through the Russian's temple accomplishes this,
and Chase races to get back to British controlled soil. All
in a day's work, for her, but unfortunately Markovsky's employers
and constituents are able to discern who made the hit (as
told in a back up story featured in the volume, drawn by Usagi
Yojimbo's Stan Sakai) and they retaliate against the Brits.
a cat and mouse game to find those responsible for the retaliatory
hit, and to protect Chase whose name has been leaked to the
say I've ever seen Steve Rolston's art before, but his style
is functional and pretty crisp, and while I like more simplistic
artwork on books I read, it seems a little too cartoon-like
at times to mesh well with the harsher tones of the comic
(it's just kind of odd to see a cartoon look-a-like of Fidel
Castro get his brains blown out while you're expecting someone
to drop an anvil on his head). His style is similar to Judd
Winick's character design from books' like Barry Ween and
Pedro and Me, but with a better attention to detail on buildings
thing I've been noticing lately is that trade collections
and graphic novels are becoming more and more like DVDs with
all the extras they sport nowadays. I mentioned the Stan Sakai
back-up story and there's also Rolston's sketch gallery (which
features Rolston's versions of himself and Greg Rucka), a
dossier page that gives the reader info on all the major players
of the book, and to top it all off is a fine introduction
written by Warren Ellis.
& Country: Operation Broken Ground is a great book, and
in the Oni Press tradition, sinfully affordable at $11.95.
Granted it's black and white, but colors are overrated; just
ask your dog. I'm sure he won't complain (because I've already
paid him off with his weight in bacon strips, muhahahahahaha).
Queen and Country:
Operation Broken Ground