Saturday, February 18, 2017

Review: JAMES BOND, Volume 1 #6 - Vargr


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Warren Ellis
ART: Jason Masters
COLORS: Guy Major
LETTERS: Simon Bowland
COVER: Dom Reardon
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 EON Productions' long-running James Bond-007 film series, which began with the 1962 film, Dr. No.

Over the past 50+ years, Bond has made sporadic appearances in comic books, and the latest comes 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.”

“Vargr” begins with James Bond, Agent 007 on a mission in Helsinki to avenge the death of 008, whose case load he assumes upon returning to London – mission successfully completed.  A new mission takes Bond to Berlin to break up a drug operation.  He discovers a conspiracy, but does not realize how far-ranging it is, nor does he initially comprehend the forces arrayed against him.

James Bond, Volume 1, #6 finds 007 in Norway.  There, he will infiltrate the “Vargr,” a battleship belonging to Slaven Kurjak, the mastermind behind the horrific drug/viral outbreak that could send London (and other locales) into chaos.  The brutality that it will take to complete this mission just might destroy James Bond.

When Dynamite Entertainment launched its press push for James Bond, Volume 1, Warren Ellis said that this James Bond comic book series would feature a James Bond that skewed closer to the character that appeared in Ian Fleming's writing than in the film series.  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.

This newest comic book incarnation offers a James Bond that mostly eschews the cinematic theatrics of movie James Bond, and offers a Bond that is closer to the literary Bond, which includes 007 being a “blunt instrument.”

Warren Ellis offers a story that is tense and fast-moving without being a slick action-packed thriller.  Ellis' Bond is cool under pressure and cerebral, but he is also the relentless force of nature that is the cinematic Jason Bourne, as played actor Matt Damon.  Ellis builds the conflict, plot, and conspiracy with his usual mix of cutting edge culture, science, and technology.

The true stars of this series may be artist Jason Masters and colorist Guy Major.  Master's graphical storytelling and composition create a story that moves straight ahead like a grim fighter who knows that he is in the last round of a fight.  He may dodge and weave, but he can't really take a step back; he must move inexorable forward in this unforgiving fight, regardless of the injuries inflicted upon him.  It is Major, who uses a cool palette of colors, that creates the sense that this story has a consistent sense of pace and movement.  Once you start Ellis' story, Masters and Major create a visual and graphical experience that pushes you forward, right smack into the bloody end.

Damn, I can't wait for the next chapter in Dynamite's Ellis-Masters-Major Bond.  In the meantime, grab the upcoming hardcover collection of the Vargr story arc.  It will be worth the cover price.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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