Queen & Country

Queen & Country Definitive Edition
Oni Press
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Steve Rolston, Brian Hurtt, and Leandro Fernandez
BW, $19.99 US

It was a crazy 2019 holiday season at ComicReaders, which is just the way we like it. (Thanks to everyone who shopped local for the holidays, by the way.) As a result, it has been a while since I posted and to be honest I did not read ANY comics in the month of December. (Shock!) My bus and evening reading was solely John le Carre.

I had picked up a heavily worn copy of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a few years ago after watching the BBC miniseries starring Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley. The first chapter was great. I found the second chapter a slog and put the book down and moved onto other things. As we put our house back together after a renovation was completed in December I rediscovered the novel and decided to give it another go. The first chapter was great. The second chapter was STILL a slog, but I kept going and quickly got lost in this thoroughly gripping spy novel. A spy novel that is mostly Smiley digging through archives and reading old documents or interrogating people!

After Tinker, I borrowed the second novel, The Honourable Schoolboy, from the RPL. That one had actual boots on the ground spycraft but it made me so angry by the end! Needless to say, I followed up with Smiley’s People, which I’ve just about halfway consumed.

These John le Carre books reminded me of the excellent BBC series The Sandbaggers, which ComicReaders’ Dana recommended to me many moons ago. And thinking of The Sandbaggers got me thinking about Queen & Country, the comic series from many moons ago, which is quite fascinating because in December a young chap came into the store and bought Queen & Country volume 1!

Queen & Country is available in three definitive editions from Oni Press and it is a set I like to keep in stock even though I might only sell one edition every 2 years. Dana and I talked about this the other day over breakfast. If you run a comic shop there are certain titles you keep in stock to demonstrate you know your craft. Most often these are current bestsellers, award-winners, and titles that are important to the industry because of their influence, but just as often there are titles that are important to the individuals in the store. Queen & Country is, for me, one of those titles. It did win awards. And it did feature a cast of artists that continue to do stellar work in the industry. And it did give something that I would argue has yet to be duplicated in modern comics– spy stories that feel real– and that is the reason I like to keep it on the shelf. If someone was to come into the store and say, “Hey, you ever read John le Carre?” or “You ever hear of The Sandbaggers?” “Do you have anything like that?” My reply would be, “Well, yes– yes, I do.” And we’d head over to where Queen & Country resides. And as we walked over there I’d look over my shoulder and ask the person’s opinion on that second chapter of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. (Chad Boudreau)

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