Spies are not James Bond. They're not even the cultured old men of John LeCarre novels, not any more. They're people in a world without the moral absolutism of the Cold War. A world where The Soviet Union is now a trivia question, two dozen little enemies all waving their arms at once; where the tide of communism has given way to the floodlands of Balkanisation, "rogue states" and wildfire terrorism. In this place, you don't get away with stray bullets and the mutual understanding of The Game.
QUEEN AND COUNTRY is a spy story where every single bullet has consequence, and where every single step you take in your job will come back to haunt you. Watching the horrible tumble of dominos set off by troubled spy Tara Chace's one solitary gunshot makes QUEEN AND COUNTRY perhaps the most compelling thriller comic of the last year.
Lesser writers, the Tom Clancys and the like, deal with their new worlds of spies and technoporn by jingoistically shoving other nationalities into the shoes of Evil Empire, so that they can play the same simple games. Greg Rucka is not a lesser writer. As an author, he thrives in political, moral and emotional complexity, captured perfectly by the sharp pens of artist Steve Rolston. Cartooned in a mature European clear-line style, his figures practically shiver with hate, slump with exhaustion, get still and chill with fear. Fear of a world that makes no sense.
Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in Nature, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh. He's on the web at warrenellis.com and diepunyhumans.com.