Queen & Country, vol. 1: Operation Broken Ground (Cannonball Read 5:1)
I picked up this first collection of Greg Rucka's Queen & Country after hearing Jennifer Stuller (whose Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology I have reviewed elsewhere) talk about it at WonderCon, back in 2011. The note I made about it at the time was "female badass alcoholic train wreck secret ops." That may end up being an oversimplification, but it's not wrong. Tara Chace (who I keep wanting to call Kara Thrace) is a Special Operations Officer, or "Minder," with Britain's Secret Intelligence Service. In the first collection (issues 1-4), we meet Chace in action and get a taste of her life and work. She's been sent to Kosovo, to do a favor for a friend, and it goes about as well as one might expect. Without spoiling anything for people who, like me, tend to get exposed to graphic novels long after they're new, I'll just say that the story is off to an engaging start: the characters seem fleshed out enough to make me want to know more about them, and there are enough hints of complications and entanglements to come to make it seem like there will be more to it than Dangerous Mission of the Week. It's already clear, for example, that Chace has some serious issues, that office politics is really high stakes, and that inter-agency allegiances are just as shaky as you'd expect. I know that Rucka and co. won an Eisner Award (Best New Series, 2002), and I think Operation Broken Ground gives me a good indication of why.
Queen & Country ran from 2001-2007. The collection I read was published in 2002, and I happened to find it in a used bookstore's $1 bin. Best bet now would be Queen & Country: The Definitive Edition, Vol. 1 (2008) -- I've already invested in the full set, and do not expect to be disappointed.