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06.22.2005 – Queen & Country Declassified Vol. 3 #1

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Writer – Antony Johnston
Illustrated by – Christopher Mitten
Letters – John Dranski

Oni Press – $2.95

I was all set to pick out the comic adaptation of Neverwhere, because it was really good. I never read the book, and I almost didn’t want to buy it, because I think I’d rather read the book. But then I bought it, and it was real good. But then, they got me with my sweet spot: Dear Eire.

Well, perhaps not the happiest parts of Ireland, but this segment of Declassified (the third installment), takes a look at the modern face of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s a subject I’m endlessly fascinated with, and it’s just as multi-faceted and complicated as the Israeli/Palestinean situation. So of course, this book was right up my alley. At first I was disappointed to learn that Greg Rucka was not the writer on this one. In fact, had I noticed, I wouldn’t have bought it. But my ignorance paid off. And I think that Johnston is British, so that gives him some credibilty with the material that not even Rucka can claim.

So the story seems to be that an IRA tough is released as a result of the Peace Accords, and he’s up to some no good. There’s a bit of cloak and dagger, and some double-crossing, and honestly, it isn’t all that clear what this story is really going to be about yet, as we’re just setting the stage. I have a feeling a whole lot of people are going to be hurt, and several characters are going to be put at odds with what they thought their principles were. But that’s just speculation. You see, the Troubles, as they’re called, are rife with the narrative possibility for thoughtful ambiguity. I love that myself, especially when mixed with real history and politics. This is not a book for those who don’t want to think about a story as they’re reading.

And the back section includes a primer of sorts to explain what the hell everyone is talking about in the issue. But it is at the back, so if I hadn’t known what I know, it may have been more useful at the front. But if you didn’t know what “paddy” was, you probably didn’t make it through the issue to start.

For some reason, Oni keeps pulling out great artists for this book. They find guys with style, who can work in black and white, and tell a story, and they do it over and over again. One thing I notice is the artist’s ability to differentiate between British and Irish faces. There is a difference, and the artist, Christoper Mittens, does a fine job of showing us that physical difference.

I’m not sure where this is going, and I’m hoping that it doesn’t side up so much with the Unionists or the Republicans, but rather, uses the situation to enlighten people to the way things are in Northern Ireland. If you can use some think in your comics, give this a shot.

Josh Flanagan
Don’ call me paddy unless yeh’d like a boot up yer arse
josh@ifanboy.com

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Comments

  1. I read this and knew right away what the POW would be.

  2. You’re right – the British/Irish situation is very similar to the Arab/Isreali situation, but it doesn’t get nearly the press.

    There’s so much pointless hate in this world.

    Excellent comic, though. And yes, Johnston is British. Do you remember him from the WEF?

    I had the same reaction y ou did – I didn’t notice it wasn’t Rucka until I got home and went “Wah…?” I was annoyed, but read it anyway and I think it is a story that only someone who has lived in the region can tell.

  3. I think the thing that we don’t understand as Americans, and should appreciate from the British point of view is that the IRA went way too far in their killing of civilians. They became an outright terrorist group, and that’s not what it should have ever been. There’s a hell of a history behind this hate though, and anything that can help dispel it is a good thing.

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