• James Bond: Kill Chain #4

    James Bond: Kill Chain #4
    Released by: Dynamite Entertainment
    Released on: October 18th, 2017.
    Written by: Andy Diggle
    Illustrated by: Luca Casalanguida
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    This fourth issue begins at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Here American General James Garrett, the U.S. Director Of National Intelligence, is threatening to pull out of the ‘Five Eyes’ program, the intelligence sharing program that has been the backbone of NATO for years. Garrett reminds M that disengagement isn’t only an American tactic these days, but a British one as well. M reminds him that populist politicians don’t typically have a very good grasp on reality.

    It’s then that Garrett tells M that they know their C.I.A. agent was targeted by the 00 division to keep the Americans away from intel the British didn’t want to share. The Americans got it anyway. M retaliates, says that the Cold War never really ended, it just turned into a Shadow War. He tells Garrett he’s being used.

    Bond is also in Brussels. He calls Tanner, explains what he knows about Operation Hooded Falcon and warns that M may be next in the ‘tit for tat’ killings that have been going on. Bond is also trailing Rika Van Dehavik, a deadly assassin who is clearly not as dead as was originally thought. Bond is asked to take her alive, but he makes no promises. Elsewhere a transport truck bearing a Universal Exports logo on the side is remote controlled into the middle of the city where it opens up and unleashes scores of small drones. Bond makes his way into the hotel where Rika is staying, busts open the door to her room and finds a load of surveillance gear and a note that reads ‘duty calls’ but no Rika. On one of the screens he sees the drone swarm in action, heading to the NATO building. He calls Tanner and orders that M be brought to safety but is then attacked by armed men who carry him out of the building. The drones make their way to the NATO building and do what they’re supposed to do.

    And then we find out who really kidnapped Bond and why.

    The plot seriously thickens in this issue, bringing current affairs into the Bond universe quite nicely with Diggle crafting a tale of suspenseful espionage that is, at times, frighteningly realistic in this day and age. He cleverly ties in events like the Brexit movement and the election of Donald Trump into the storyline without overdoing it, working in elements of that political leaning into the plot and tying it all into a potential Russian threat. It’s really strong writing, but at the same time, never out of step with what a good Bond story should be. We get a femme fatale, some double crossing, some solid action and lots more – Diggle manages to hit all the right notes without making his story into a Bond-cliché.

    Luca Casalanguida continues to deliver solid artwork. Great use of thick, black line work and heavy on shadows, the illustrations in this issue follow the three that came before – they’re atmospheric and have a nice flow to them. The action ‘moves’ nicely and the characters are drawn well enough that their facial expressions have meaning. The coloring work from Chris Blythe is also really nice.

    This is the best issue yet – it’ll be very interesting to see where they take it from here!