Queen & Country #18

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Carla Speed McNeil
32 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

“You ain’t seen nothing, yet.” There are times where that feels like the catchphrase of Queen & Country from Oni Press. You can almost see creator Greg Rucka sitting at his keyboard with a big grin on his face as he writes each new storyline, raising the stakes and increasing the intensity. And just when the reader thinks they can stop and catch their breath… Rucka proves them wrong. This is the way a spy thriller should be, after all.

Tara Chace has been on all sorts of missions, from assassinations in Kosovo to stopping blackmail in Paris. Now she’s in T’Bilisi, Georgia, where the failure of a mission thirty years earlier has come back to haunt the Minders. That wouldn’t be bad enough, if it wasn’t for the one thing that makes Tara’s life even worse. She’s been saddled with a rookie.

I think what I’m enjoying the most about the current Queen & Country arc (which began in #16) is that we’re seeing Tara plunged into an entirely different world, so to speak. Tara’s grief is surprisingly powerful, and coupled with her frustration over having to worth with Brian, it’s perhaps not what one would expect from everyone’s favorite British special agent. At the same time, through Brian’s eyes we get to see Tara even moreso as someone to look up to, someone who’s been through all of this before and is very much the one to follow. It’s interesting to see Brian learn what does and does not happen on a mission, and to see just how a Minder-to-be would react when thrown into the fire.

Carla Speed McNeil is best known for her self-published book Finder, but I think she’s about to make a whole new legion of fans after this storyline in Queen & Country. McNeil’s art is just as strong when grounded in reality instead of Finder‘s science-fantasy, focusing on the people that make Queen & Country tick. You can really see all the emotions running through Tara’s mind as she tries to go to sleep on the plane to Georgia, for instance, as she wearily opens her eyes. There’s exhaustion and loss reflected there, the panel itself cutting short to let the last part of the page’s empty space serve as a pause for the reader, to let them feel what Tara feels. It’s very strong storytelling, and it’s that sort of thing that you’ll find all through Queen & Country. When the big assault does happen, the book shifts from crisp lines to heavy smears of ink, the edges of Tara’s reality becoming blurred and fast-moving. You can feel the collision take place, both its speed and its impact. Now that’s how Queen & Country should be.

This latest issue of Queen & Country just reminds me once again why I can’t imagine the idea of not buying a new issue the moment it hits the stands. Rucka and McNeil’s cliffhanger really will have you on the edge of your seat, and it’s easy to see why being able to continue writing Queen & Country was a must before Rucka agreed to go exclusive with DC Comics. If you haven’t read Queen & Country, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on one of the best series currently being published for one more second.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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