Queen & Country Vol. 3: Operation Crystal Ball by Greg Rucka

Queen & Country Vol. 3: Operation: Crystal Ball by Greg Rucka with art by Leandro Fernandez

Genre: Spy Thriller, Graphic Novel
Series: #3 in the Queen & Country Series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 134
Source: Library

The Short Version:
The SIS Special Section team is tasked to interview a potential informant and find out if his information about an attack on British citizens is credible and stoppable.

Why I Read It:
I have enjoyed this spy thriller series from the first issue. This volume takes the series into post the 9/11 world of espionage.

The Book:
This volume 3 is a compilation of issues 8-12 of the comic series
From the publisher:

Mahmoud Youseff, a Lebanese citizen, walks into a British Embassy in Cairo, declaring himself to be a member of the Group Islamique Arme and claiming to have information about a plot by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad to launch a terrorist attack on British citizens. Tara Chace, the operative designated Minder Two of the Special Section of the SIS, is immediately dispatched to meet with Youseff and strike a deal. What follows is a frenetic search across the world for the EIJ’s stockpile of Sarin gas and, more importantly, where they plan to unleash it. Sarajevo, Baghdad, Rome, Osaka—the Minders are determined to halt this deadly game before it even gets started.

My Thoughts:
This series appeals to me for a lot of the same reasons that the TV series Homeland does. The main character is a tough woman with flaws working primarily in the Middle East.

The first story arcs were written before 9/11 and this one opens with the events of that day and takes the story and characters into the much changed world after that day.

The story in this one takes the characters initially between London and Cairo where a new informant leads them on an urgent mission. If his information is correct innocent citizens are at risk and it could be anywhere in the world. There is plenty of action and some lucky and unlucky breaks along the way.

The story is good but I have quibbles with the artists choices which knocks my rating down.

The interesting thing about this series is that every volume is drawn by a different artist. While the basic style and mood of the art is relatively consistent there are differences in how each artist interprets the characters. I have to say I was not impressed with the direction the artist for this story arc took with Tara’s character.

In the first two volumes she was tough, but real. This time around she looks like a combination of Angelina Jolie and Barbie. This is not an improvement and I was glad to see in preview pages for the next volume that Tara is back to looking normal.

This is the progression of Tara’s appearance in the first three volumes (click on the images for larger versions).

It appears that this trend is reversed in volume 4 which is a good thing in my opinion.

Despite that issue it’s still an excellent series and if you are a fan of the TV show Homeland I’d recommend giving this series a try.

3 stars  Rating 3/5