Wednesday, February 16, 2005

QUEEN & COUNTRY: DECLASSIFIED VOL 2 #1

This first issue will read very differently to those who are up-to-date and have read A Gentleman's Game (the Q&C novel), those who are reading the series and haven't gotten to the novel, and those who just picked this up because it sounded like something interesting.

The Declassified miniseries are single-character focus flashback stories, quasi-origin tales that depict defining moments for our cast and crew over at MI-6. The first Declassified centered on Paul Crocker, whom series heroine Tara Chace knows as her irascible boss but who was once in her shoes. This second miniseries focuses on Tom Wallace, the recently retired Section Chief.

Tom, Tara's closest working partner and friend, retired from active duty in Q&C #26 and played an important role in A Gentleman's Game, which takes place after the events of Q&C 28. Within the main series, we meet Tom as we met Paul -- veteran spooks who are several stages past cynical and whose idealism has long ago hardened into something more useful. Tom drinks heavily, smokes even more heavily, and is both worldly and world-weary and it's no wonder Tara is both fascinated and a bit scared of him.

The Tom we meet here is not like the young Crocker who we met in the first miniseries -- the soft inside before the shell hardened. This Tom is a marine commando who opts in to Intelligence not because he's uncovered one too many mass burials in Yugoslavia (although it's clear that that should have been the reason), but because he's goaded into it by a commanding officer who sees his potential and makes it a point of pride. Once at Section, he is a natural fit -- and also a good bit happier out of the uniform -- playing with his beloved car, living with his mum, etc. -- but also square in the middle of Crocker's power play against their boss and not inclined to dissuade his Head of Section.

While in the Special Section, Tom Wallace was impossible not to like, so I'm tickled -- especially in the wake of the novel -- to see him back again.

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