• James Bond: Black Box #5

    James Bond: Black Box #5
    Released by: IDW Publishing
    Released on: July 12th, 2017.
    Written by: Benjamin Percy
    Illustrated by: Rapha Lobosco
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    Picking up where the last issue left off, Bond is alone in the so-called Suicide Forest of Japan, a dark heavily wooded area in Aokigahra littered with the corpses of those who have chosen to end their own lives. Bond knows he’s been trailed by the assassin that followed him from the Sumo tournament, and that this killer would love nothing more than to take him as his latest trophy. He also knows that Saga Genshi is the one who has bankrolled the hit. Bond knows his new friend Selah is out there, but he can’t call out to her lest he give away his location to the assassin.

    Soon enough, the masked killer comes up behind him, the sound of his blade just enough to alert 007 to his presence. They fight, but it ends with Bond running back into the cover of darkness – just before Selah shows up. Together they manage to deal with their assailant, and Selah does her damnedest to make sure he’s dead. They swipe his phone, hoping it will lead to some clues, but leave the scene before confirming that the would-be killer is as dead as they believe.

    Back in London at MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross, Moneypenny tells M that Genshi has made his move and is offering information on ‘enemy’ states in exchange for cash. Meaning that the UK has been offered info on China and the US info on Russia, clearly an attempt at global destabilization. M knows that if Bond gets that black box back to the UK, it’ll not only save the world from an information war but also posit Great Britain as the most powerful country on the planet.

    Elsewhere, Bond and Selha travel by train as she apologizes for killing the assassin we know isn’t dead. They talk about death, about the morality of killing a few to save the masses. They talk about their scars, physical and mental. As they talk, they’re interrupted by none other than Felix Leiter. Bond realizes if they’ve been followed that the C.I.A. need them more than they need the C.I.A. – and then Felix lets on about what’s really in Genshi’s black box. If everyone’s on the same train heading in the same direction to get to the same man, might as well work together, right? The Chinese, the Germans and the Russians already have agents out in the field but it’s 007 who seems one step ahead of the competition. Bond takes care of Felix, tells Selah that the plan has changed, and then proceeds to follow orders…

    A solid issue, this fifth chapter sees Percy’s storyline get a bit more complicated and a bit more refined at the same time. Bond’s relationship with Selah gets solidified and then torn up, while Felix’s interruption opens up a whole lot of doors as to where this could all be going. If the black box does contain as many secrets as those in control of the world suppose it does, then clearly everyone is going to jump after it the way that they do – but is there more to this than just a bunch of countries wanting to hide their dirty laundry? Guess we’ll find out soon but for now Percy weaves a good yarn, mixing action and intrigue with espionage and suspense. As to the artwork, Lobosco’s style suits the tale well. The action scenes move well and the panel layouts have a vibrant life to them. A bit more background detail would have been welcome but otherwise the thick line art employed here works well in the context of the story being told, reflecting the dark tone of the tale quite well.