Tara Chace is a field agent for the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service. After performing a dangerous task as a favor to the CIA, her job and personal life begin to blend together in ways that send Chace down a terrifying and lonely path. Meanwhile, Chace’s direct commander, Paul Crocker, must find a balance between pleasing his superiors, and keeping his agents safe.
While there are three different story-arcs in this edition, Rucka does a masterful job at weaving various plot threads in and out of each to fill in the larger tapestry of Tara Chase’s full character arc. Much of this arc has to do with her downward spiral in and out of her job, as not only does she begin to doubt herself as an agent, but the work she does as a whole as well.
The action and suspense are vital to the story, but the most fascinating aspect of Queen and Country has to be the relationships that are built between Crocker and his Minders (the term for secret agents of the S.I.S.), and the Minders with one another. Due to the dangerous – and sometimes deadly – aspects of their job, they’re not supposed to let their personal feelings get in the way; however, it becomes increasingly clear that each character can’t help but begin to care for their colleagues to varying degrees. The writing – for this facet and other powerful character beats – is subtle and superb in its showing through illustrations, and not telling with words.
Each individual story, while written by Rucka, is illustrated by a new artist. At first, this seemed a bit off-putting, as it quickly took me out of the story. However, as I continued on, I saw just how clever an idea this is: as Tara and her partners continually change through character growth, so too do their physical interpretations change as viewed by different artists. Brilliant!
At times fast-paced and thrilling, while at times slow, methodical, and thought-provoking, Queen and Country, Volume 1 is an excellent start to what I can only imagine to be an exhilarating series. I can’t wait to snipe out volume 2!