Copy recieved via Netgalley.
There is an idea that spy stories are male stories. True, you have stories about spies that concern women, but those usually have a good dose of "romance" in them. Even excellent ones like Wish Me Luck have a good, strong dosing of romance. The women in such spy movie tend to be helpless, evil until they met the good guy and then they either repent or get dumb, or to be in charge like M in James Bond. There are exceptions, Wish Me Luck had tough women in it, but overall you have to wonder how the woman got into the spy business to begin with if she was going to break so quickly.
This is why it is nice to read this graphic novel. This is very much like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, but with more twists, excellent well done twists. If you are looking for a James Bond spy story, this isn't for you. But if you are looking for a cerebral story set in the waning days of the Cold War, this is fits the prescription.
The central character is Lorraine, a woman sent to Berlin to discover what has happened to a missing list. You know those list that if it gets into the wrong hands, everyone dies. It's true that this plot device is so overused it is almost funny. The great thing is that it works well in this graphic novel because Johnston brings freshness to it. Even in graphic novel format, the characters are well shaded and far from flat. Lorraine is an interesting, a tough as nails woman (she is not a girl), very much like the spies that tend to show up in the British drama. Supporting characters are also very believable. This is a nicely done and thrilling mystery in terms of plot.
At first, I wasn't overly impressed with the artwork of Sam Hart. It is very abrupt, brutal; minimalistic which isn't a type of style that I normally like. At first, I got frustrated at the panels where the faces are blank ovals (such panels are not the majority, but there are enough to notice), then I realized that the style, especially the blank faces really suits a spy story. It's a question of being two-faced, which is a question Lorraine has to answer, but of which face one actually has, of whom one actually is. The artwork, therefore, re-enforces the theme of the graphic novel as well as being a representation of the action.
This is very cool.
I must say that this is not the type of work I would've normally read, but it was being offered via Netgalley as "read this now", so I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. Even though the story is based in the real world, in some ways it reminded me of Watchmen in terms of theme. This is a graphic novel worth reading.