• James Bond #1



    James Bond #1
    Released by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: November 4th, 2015.
    Written by: Warren Elis
    Illustrated by: Jason Masters
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    The first issue of the new James Bond series from Warren Ellis and Jason Masters beings in Helsinki, Finland. Here we see a bearded man running through the empty streets in the middle of the night. Snow falls as he makes his way into a construction site. We see he has a cross carved on his forehead – we also see that he’s armed. He makes his way through the site, draws his pistol and takes aim but someone else, someone unseen, shoots first. They exchange fire as he tries to make his way out, but he’s injured after being hit in the back by a cinder block. His assailant comes out of the shadows, a fight ensues and the two men attack one another with shovels.

    The bearded man goes down but again draws his pistol. He tries to fire but he’s not fast enough. He asks the other man who he is and is told that he killed a colleague of his two weeks ago for no other reason than that he loves killing. The murder victim? 008. The man now getting revenge? 007, of course.

    Cut to London. A flophouse. Junkies litter the floor, a band was playing recently. One of the band members introduces a girl to a new drug he picked up in Europe recently, it’s called Green. In the other room, one of his band mates, Cal, is dosed right up, hallucinating as he plays his guitar, blood all over his hand.

    Bond returns to MI6 headquarters. He gets the obligatory flirting with Moneypenny out of the way and heads into M’s office. They discuss the revenge mission and note that M is under pressure to retire the 00 section, but not before giving Bond his latest assignment – taking over 008’s caseload. They’d like him to find and stop someone who is importing a certain drug into the United Kingdom, a new synthetic being made on the European mainland. But before he’s off to Berlin, Bond must, of course, stop by Q’s department on the way. New rules require while travelling through the UK that agents be unarmed. Once he’s in Berlin, he’ll get his firearm back.

    Well, this storyline, entitled Vargr, is off to a nice start. Ellis writes the characters well, plenty of snappy banter here and it’s made very clear from the opening sequence that this take on Bond isn’t messing around – he’s a bad ass and has no qualms about taking a life if he feels it is warranted. The tension with Moneypenny is well played and humorous, the banter with M handled well and the various conversations Bond is involved with here playback nicely to Fleming’s style. Bond is a man of action, he likes a drink, he likes to gamble, and he definitely likes to fraternize with the opposite sex but despite M’s opinions he takes his job seriously enough. Ellis definitely seems to be keeping this first issue close to the original Fleming stories, at least in terms of how Bond views the world and how he operates within it. Ellis has always had a knack for espionage themed work and this first issue does do a very good job of potentially setting up some pretty big things in the coming issues.

    As far as Masters’ artwork is concerned, it’s pretty solid. He conveys action well in the opening fight and there’s good detail here. There are some panels that don’t look quite as fluid as maybe they could have but by and large he draws these characters well (and introduces some changes to how a couple of the consummate Bond supporting characters look and have been portrayed in the past). He uses some nice angles here too, a good example being when the thug in the opening sequence slides down the hill of snow and aims his pistol at Bond – we see this from behind the thug, Bond elevated in a sense atop the hill, a clever shot that in turn sets up Bond as having the strategic advantage, an advantage that he then uses to seal the deal. Some of the architecture is a little too clean and a little too sparse looking but shadows are used really well to accentuate things rather well and he draws faces and bodies with enough style to work, but not too much style as to exaggerate things. The coloring from Guy Majors is also quite good, helping to give Masters’ art a bit more mood and atmosphere than it would have had otherwise. It’s also worth noting that Dom Reardon contributes a great painted cover that plays very nicely off of the opening sequence at the construction site.