Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Review: JAMES BOND Volume 1 #1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Warren Ellis
ART: Jason Masters
COLORS: Guy Major
LETTERS: Simon Bowland
COVER: Dom Reardon
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Francesco Francavilla; Steven Mooney; Dan Panosian; Gabriel Hardman with Jordan Boyd; Glenn Fabry; Jock; Gabriel Hardman; Joe Jusko; Aaron Campbell; Timothy Lim; Dennis Calero; Robert Hack; Ben Oliver; Jason Masters
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

Rated T+


“James Bond” is a fictional British Secret Service agent created by Ian Fleming, a British writer and novelist.  Fleming introduced James Bond in the 1953 novel, Casino Royale, and featured the character in 12 novels and two short-story collections.  Of course, most people know Bond because of the long-running James Bond-007 film series, which began with the 1962 film, Dr. No.

After Fleming's death, a number of authors continued to produce James Bond novels, including the recently released Trigger Warning from author Anthony Horowitz.  Over the past 50+ years, Bond has made sporadic appearances in comic books.  The latest James Bond comic book appears courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment.

James Bond, Volume 1 is written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Jason Masters, colored by Guy Major, and lettered by Simon Bowland.  The first story arc is entitled is entitled “Vargr.”  According to Ellis, this James Bond comic book series will feature a James Bond that skews closer to the character that appeared in Ian Fleming's writing than in the film series.

James Bond, Volume 1, #1 opens in Helsinki, Finland.  There, James Bond-007 is settling a matter concerning 008.  Back in London at MI6 headquarters, M (Bond's immediate superior) informs Bond that he must take on a larger workload.  That will take him to Berlin and into danger.

When actor Daniel Craig was cast as James Bond around a decade ago, it was announced that the James Bond film series would return to the idea that 007 was a blunt instrument used by the British Secret Service.  That was evident in most of Craig's first outing as Bond, 2006's Casino Royale, although the film ultimately returned to the action movie theatrics that have defined the series for most of its existence.

In 22 pages, writer Warren Ellis makes it clear that the James Bond of “Vargr” is not only a blunt instrument, but also is a man who can be both suave and ordinary-like, as necessary.  This Bond is also classic and cool, like Sean Connery operating with a jazzy soundtrack in the background.  There is, however, also a touch of the edginess found in Richard Stark's Parker.

Jason Masters' art and graphical storytelling deglazes any cinematic sheen from both the subject and the story.  With Guy Major's colors, Masters' art does not seek to make this a matter-of-fact Bond, but rather it emphasizes the story and genre as much as it does the famous character.

I highly recommend this to fans of James Bond and to those who have been waiting for a James Bond comic book.  I must also note that not only is Moneypenny a Black character (as she is in the current films), but so is M.  I'll be waiting in Berlin...

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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