James Bond: Black Box #1
Released by: IDW Publishing
Released on: March 1st, 2017.
Written by: Benjamin Percy
Illustrated by: Rapha Lobosco
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In the French alps, a cable car makes its way up the mountainside. A Frenchman warns his passenger, Agent 007, about the temperature but Bond never was the type of man who backed down from a challenge. He dons his skies and launches himself down the slopes, his internal monologue letting us in on his appreciation for the cold’s numbing effects.
He reaches a cabin in the woods, assembles his sniper rifle, and prepares to kill a man who kills men. His target’s name is Andre Moreau, a Corsican assassin who has taken out three English dignitaries. His kills were cruel, nasty even. Bond gets his target in his sights but before he pulls the trigger someone beats him to it, being careful not to hit the pretty blonde woman entertaining Moreau in the cabin. What Bond doesn’t realize is that he’s being watched, targeted by someone else with a sniper rifle. This leads to Bond chasing the assassin down the rest of the slope, both parties on skies.
They make it across the mountain highway, narrowly avoiding death by flatbed, and head towards the ski resort’s main base. Here a young girl gets in the way of the sniper. He dodges so as not to run her over and winds up flying through the glass window of the chalet restaurant. Bond catches up to the sniper and realizes very quickly that it’s a beautiful woman. Beautiful but dangerous. She smacks him in the face with her headgear and takes off.
The next day, at Vauxhall Cross MI6 Headquarters, Bond tells M that the woman had a Highland accent. M doesn’t care – after all, she did their dirty work for them. Problem solved, right? M tells Bond of a hack, no money was moved around but the hackers got information, the kind of information that the government would rather not be made public. High ranking officials could very well have their dirty laundry made public. M would rather that not be the case. Everyone has a skeleton or two in their closet, right? 007 needs to take care of this, to make the matter go quiet. And with that, he’s off to Tokyo and officially assigned to Operation Black Box. His mission? Get rid of the digital treasure chest and eliminate those who snatched the intel in the first place. He meets up with Q, Major Boothroyd for those enamored with Dr. No era Bond, and gets his gear. But Bond? He’s more interested in finding out who that redhead is…
Following up Warren Ellis’ run on Dynamite’s James Bond series would certainly not be an enviable task but Percy’s storyline is off to a good start. All the classic Bond elements are here – international intrigue, a beautiful but mysterious and deadly woman, gadgets galore and of course, the ever important mission. Country before all. Percy writes this all quite well. It’s not quite as nitty-gritty as Ellis’ run, at least not yet, but it’s good and it suits the character’s mythos very well. This first chapter is fast paced and intriguing, when we get to the last page we’re left wanting more. That’s what a good first issue is supposed to do. We’ll see where it goes from here.
The art is odd. Rapha Lobosco’s style is short on background detail, a complaint that we levied against the Ellis run as well, but the unorthodox use of very heavy blacks and thick, almost enveloping lines in the darker sequences gives the book some character. Lighter scenes, such as Bond on the slopes in the opening segment, show good facial structures even if some of the body movements look a little stilted. Panel layouts and ‘camera angles’ are typically quite interesting and fairly creative. This might take some time to adjust to. It’s not bad, it’s just different. A little strange. Very stylish in its own unique way. John Cassiday contributes a solid cover piece.
A good start to this new series. We’ll gladly come back when issue two hits the stands.