Readers of The Lost Art

Of Cops and Spies: Short Reviews of “Kane”, “Top 10” and “Queen and Country” (various volumes)

December 21st, 2009

1.      Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct

Top 10 Beyond the Farthest Precinct

Best described as “good, but not as good as the ones with Alan Moore writing them”. Top Ten is one of Moore’s lighter works, best described as “Hill Street Blues with superpowers”. That’s not a criticism, as it’s an entertaining read and one of the stories in the series, “Traffic Duty” in vol. 2, ranks among Moore’s most moving work. Absolutely everyone in this world has superpowers; the cops, the villains, the civilians, everyone. 

One of the most fun aspects of the series is figuring out that it would work perfectly well if nobody had powers at all (guns instead of super-strength, uniforms instead of Lycra, car crashes instead of teleporter malfunctions, racial segregration instead of robot / human housing projects), but the fact that they’re talking dogs / wearing Lycra / seeing sounds and tasting colours just makes it a little more interesting. “Beyond the Farthest Precinct” is a fun continuation of the whole series, but it’s not quite as complex as the earlier works. Still worth picking up if you want an entertaining read and you want to catch up with your favourite characters from the earlier books. 

Paperback: 128 pages

Publisher: Wildstorm (30 Jul 2006)

ISBN-10: 1401209912 


2.      Kane: Greetings from New Eden

Kane vol. 1: Greetings From New Eden

Another book from our recent focus on crime comics. Kane is a NYPD detective recently returned from work under the cloud of having shot his partner; he’s been cleared by Internal Affairs, but one or two people at the station are not too happy about him being back. Meanwhile, there’s a kidnapped child, a bomb, and a hooligan in a bunny costume to worry about… Enjoyable. Not a “write home about, change your life” book (it’s not the next Criminal), but a diverting cop thriller with fun black and white artwork. If you like Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct stories, this may be one for you. 

Paperback: 120 pages

Publisher: Image Comics; illustrated edition edition (3 Mar 2004)

ISBN-10: 1582403406 


3.     Queen and Country

Queen and Country vol. 1

Greg Rucka’s spy thriller, following the exploits of a crack team of MI6 spies from London to Baghdad. Drawn in black and white, it’s gripping and challenging reading, as our heroes fight to stay alive and complete their missions, whilst privately wondering if they’re doing the right thing – or indeed what the right thing to do is, in a murky environment where the rules change from minute to minute. An action thriller with heart, realism and strong female characters. If you like Spooks, pick this up, you’ll love it. 

Paperback: 376 pages

Publisher: Oni Press,US; Definitive Ed edition (21 Nov 2007)

ISBN-10: 1932664874

Dark Entries

December 11th, 2009

Dark Entries


Or John Constantine does Big Brother. Penned by Ian “Inspector Rebus” Rankin, this tale takes John Constantine into the murky world of reality TV. Six contestants are locked in a haunted house, searching for a mysterious prize whilst the producers try to frighten the wits out of them. Problem is, the house has started frightening them all of its own volition, and the producers would like supernatural detective and master of bad-luck magic Constantine to go in and sort it out. 

This has received mixed reviews. On the one hand, it’s an entertaining tale with a nasty twist, although if you’re familiar with the Constantine series, you may well guess what’s coming in advance. On the other, it’s nowhere near what can be done with Constantine; it’s not the next “Dangerous Habits”, and the target of reality TV is almost too easy to satirise, and rather passé by now. (If you want to see really vicious satire on the topic of reality TV, go watch Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set, but for God’s sake don’t eat sausages in tomato sauce beforehand, or indeed anything else). 

In many ways, the situation in Dark Entries is not enough of a challenge for Constantine, and whilst in some ways it’s refreshing to see him doing what he does best without having to screw someone over or pause to consider the morality (or lack thereof) of what he’s doing, it also makes for a rather slight tale. On the other hand, it is great to see writers of the calibre of Rankin and fellow crime-writer Denise Mina getting to grips with Constantine. I really do hope Rankin writes more Constantine; this is a good warm-up, and the Rebus series proves that Rankin can do battered characters facing nasty moral conundrums like few other. 

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Titan Books Ltd (2 Oct 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1848563426