3 out of 5
When the Queen & Country comic book ended, or went on an open-ended hiatus, I was bummed. I loved what writer Greg Rucka was doing in comics at the time, but he had transitioned to super heroes, and I missed the indie vibe of Q&C, as well as the grounded nature of it; it had an edge that was lacking in the world of spandex, and that I also appreciated in Greg’s novels…
So when the series continued / added to the comics in book form, despite the obviously longer gestation time of the format, I was pleased. …And then when it all pretty much ended after only three books, I was bummed again.
Q&C was not a monthly book, and as it got longer into its run, there were more and more timing gaps. As Greg got further away from it (and the books), I would occasionally lament its passing, and wish for a return, some day. However, after reading the entirety of it in a row, I can understand the need for it to have come to a conclusion: with Greg’s tendency to root the spycraft in real world politics, and the series general avoidance of super spy stuff, it kinda got into a rut of Iran / Iraq / Russian intrigue, and after putting lead Tara Chase through horrors and bringing her out onto the other side, Q&C could either dive into more of the same ad nauseum, or bring it to a close. And that’s where we find the fittingly titled ‘The Last Run’: repeating several previous moves, rather knowingly, for Chase’s final go.
Rucka’s writing skills had become incredibly sharp by this point in his career, so despite some structural predictability, the book zooms along, with characteristically precise scene setting and detailing: I definitely winced at the explanation of new wounds inflicted, and furiously flipped pages when Run’s op got going . However, while Tara by no means has a safety net – I’ve witnessed Greg killing off major players before, and so all bets are off – just the fact that the book has an air of finality to it, with Tara intending to retire from the Minders after this mission, makes some of its delaying tactics – the things left unsaid in the narrative so that they can be revealed at key points – more obvious, and the political machinations of Crocker butting heads with his superiors over what he suspects is a shoddy mission but is being forced to commit to anyway rather repetitive, given that that’s, like, always what happens.
As mentioned, Greg leans into this a bit, with almost everyone owning up to how silly it is that they’re pursuing what amounts to a decades old call for help, coded, from Tehran, but, y’know, nonetheless, our lead character needs her Last Run.
Fast paced and well written but familiar by this point, I’m glad Greg got to put a conclusion on things, even if, in retrospect, the series had probably run its course somewhere prior to this.