by Matt Kindt
Kindt’s lovely graphic novel approaches spy stories with the alt-comics bent, reminding me a bit of what a spy story might look like if Quentin Tarantino plotted the screenplay, but then Wes Andersen wrote the dialog and the characters. A few extra thoughts:
- Reminds me more of Le Carre than Fleming. These are spies that lament the pressure they must undergo. They’re tired and scared and murdered easily.
- The women get a particularly bum rap in the story, usually having to betray themselves to do their duty. Come to think of it, the men have to do that too. Perhaps it’s because men who give up their souls are the usual subjects of spy stories, so it seems especially cruel when women have to do it.
- The story is told through dossier documents and deals with a number of sub plots, many of which intertwine and depend on one another. The segments are presented in the artist’s preferred order, but with the dossier numbers, the reader can re-arrange the progress through the book to read them in story order. I can see choosing that as a re-reading option, but it feels pretty presumptuous to say “I don’t care that the author presented the stories in this order, I’m reading them in a different order. This isn’t the internet, people.
- My only complaint about the art is that I found it hard to tell some of the men apart, particularly when they returned later in the story and we were supposed to remember them from previous segments. Maybe if I read the story in chronological order that would have helped. (D’OH!)
- It’s interesting to read a spy story that focuses on the French resistance and World War 2. It feels like most spy stories focus on the Cold War as the heyday of espionage.
- One of the sub-plots focuses on a French resistance agent whose only way to get to England is to swim; of course she’s trained for it, but it’s still a remarkable chapter. It reminded me of a distance-swimmer friend who has crossed the channel a couple times. I’m pretty sure she’s not a spy, though. Pretty sure.