Saturday, 21 November 2015

James Bond #1 - Dynamite Entertainment

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


  1. Cheers for the review. I have been on the fence about these. I think I'll stick to picking up the Steed and Peel novels.

    1. Thanks Simon. I'll certainly be covering the "Vargr" six-issue story-arc, so it may be this title works better as a TPB than as a comic-book series. It is a shame though that Joe Jusko. who drew the wonderful variant cover isn't doing the interior artwork.

      As an aside he's the artist who also drew "Sad Wings of Destiny" - the drawing of Vampirella which a certain Vampifan uses as his avatar picture ;-)

  2. Simon, if Joe Jusko had done the interior artwork for this series I would have definitely bought it. He's certainly my favourite Vampirella artist. I can't tell you what a pleasure it was when I posted his "Sad Wings of Destiny" painting on my blog and received a lovely comment from him. A great guy!

    1. Cheers Bryan. I understand that the reason for the 'lower quality' artists on "Dynamite Entertainment" books is due to their low page rates, so typically they cannot attract any 'A' list talent. Which is a real shame considering how much all these licences must cost them. Like you I would have thought this title would've been a must buy if Mr Rusko had been illustrating its interior. But I'm sure it'll do well regardless as it 'bonds' 007 and Ellis together ;-)