|JAMES BOND No. 1, NOVEMBER 2015|
Published in tandem with the theatrical release of the 2015 “Eon Productions” motion picture “Spectre”, this opening issue of “the first James Bond comic book series in twenty years” begins with all the panache, brutality and pulse-pounding action any fan of Ian Fleming’s fictional British Secret Serviceman would expect. Indeed it is arguable that all this magazine’s initial ten pages are missing, is the inclusion of the film’s iconic ‘gun barrel’ introduction sequence.
Disappointingly however once the main narrative to Warren Ellis’ “Vargr” starts properly and the action abruptly shifts from a building site in Helsinki to the stuffy offices of MI6 Headquarters at Vauxhall Cross, the storyline’s pace rather abruptly slows down and eventually actually peters out as the suave suited agent bizarrely discusses his latest assignment with Bill Tanner whilst eating inside a semi-packed staff canteen, complete with bottled water and plastic chairs… Such a modest meal and somewhat surreal location genuinely jars with the opulent lavishness the titular character is famous for and sadly brings this twenty-two page periodical to a mind-numbingly tedious and undramatic ending.
Fortunately despite such shortcomings the Essex-born author still manages to include a few references within this increasingly dreary dialogue-laden tome so as to delight many “a giant Bond fanatic”. The scene between James and ‘Q’, where the armourer bemoans the spy’s use of a “gun for ladies” and tries to convince him to replace the “prostitute’s shooting instrument” for “a proper gun”, is very reminiscent of an early scene in “Dr. No” where 'M' orders the hero to hand over his underpowered Beretta and is assigned a Walther PPK. Whilst the villain of the piece, Mister Masters, “continues to exhibit chronic chemical anhedonia” and thus is incapable of experiencing “pleasure in any way” similar to how Victor ‘Renard’ Zokas proved immune to pain in “The World Is Not Enough”.
Ultimately though this comic’s greatest weakness is Jason Masters rather unconvincing and inconsistent pencilling. The occasional “DC Comics” variant cover artist certainly pulls few punches during this book’s beginning as he dynamically depicts the tattooed killer of 008 being savagely beaten (and surprisingly mutilated) by a cold-blooded Bond. But as with the plot, once James returns home the illustrator’s panels become decidedly lack-lustre and something of a disappointment. Even if his version of Major Boothroyd does look uncannily like the popular ‘big screen’ incarnation of the Quartermaster as played by actor John Cleese.
|The variant cover art of "JAMES BOND" No. 1 by Joe Jusko|