Wednesday, 20 April 2016

James Bond #3 - Dynamite Entertainment

JAMES BOND No. 3, January 2016
It is hard to understand just why such a phenomenally action-packed comic book as Issue Three of “James Bond” saw its distribution fall by approximately four thousand copies in January 2016. For whilst the initial marketing advertisement for this edition by “Dynamite Entertainment” doesn’t sound like one of the spy’s most most-thrilling adventures, on account of its declaration that “Bond is on his way to [simply] break up a small, agile drug-trafficking operation in Berlin.” The twenty-two page periodical, with its a significant body count, grisly blood-splattering head-shots and gratuitously rendered cold-blooded killings, soon depicts a British Secret Serviceman considerably “bigger, scarier and much more lethal” than arguably anything shown on the modern-day silver screen.

Indeed the vast majority of “Vargr” does little to actually advance the ongoing saga’s “debut chapter” concerning a London-based flesh-eating biological contamination at all, and instead solely concentrates on just how deadly and utterly ruthless “industry legend” Warren Ellis’ incarnation of the titular character is by having him single-handedly take on a heavily-armed gang of “people [who] saw other people’s heads off for fun.” Admittedly the intelligence officer, realising he’s walked into a trap and is badly outgunned, does initially attempt to make a hasty retreat through the rear door of the warehouse he’s unwisely entered. But when that is blocked by two bulky members of Al-Zein, Bond simply riddles the closest of his targets with a hail of bullets and then almost nonchalantly head-taps the other.

Unsurprisingly such a startlingly loud announcement as to his presence within their hideout soon has James being chased through the factory floor by more of the Lebanese-German crime clan… And for the next third of the magazine it is genuinely doubtful whether many readers even managed to take a breath as the well-groomed Englishman dives amongst stacked shelving units and ducks automatic weapons fire.

Undoubtedly this comic’s biggest attraction though is Jason Master’s wonderful ability to imbue the Royal Naval Reserve Commander with plenty of grim-faced dynamism throughout so frantically-paced a sequence. The South African artist’s pencilling for the more mundane scenes is still somewhat suspect and wooden. Yet as soon as the secret agent realises he’s been “sent to the wrong party by Felix’ friend” the former Ad Agency Art Designer’s sketching takes on a vibrant life of its own, such as his imaginative, clinically illustrated ‘x-ray’ of Bond’s bullet tearing through the throat of one of the drug-runners.
The variant cover art of "JAMES BOND" No. 3 by Gabriel Hardman

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