|JAMES BOND No. 5, March 2016|
Somewhat slower in places than its previous instalments, and certainly far wordier once the titular character returns to the relative safety of his superior’s office on the Albert Embankment in London, Warren Ellis’ narrative for Issue Five of “James Bond” still manages to imitate the franchise’s recognisable motion picture formula of sinister espionage and mastermind machinations by presenting a genuinely thrilling, no-nonsense grudge fight between the British secret agent and his nemesis Kurjak’s main assassin, the cybernetically enhanced ex-marine Dharma Reach.
Indeed, the sociocultural commentator dedicates almost the entire second half of this twenty-two page periodical to resolving the pair’s final confrontation, and even self-indulges in a thirteen panel sequence depicting the former Royal Naval Reserve Commander’s own motor vehicle being ambushed by his opponent as its being driven “through one of the old docks in the east.” There’s even room for the multiple Eagle Award-winner to illustrate Bond’s darker side by having the groggy, battered spy sadistically tell his would-be murderess that he actually tortured her homicidal lover Bryan Masters before killing him; something which understandably throws the woman into an uncontrollable rage and thus buys 007 some much-needed time in order to scramble free of the debilitating car wreckage.
Ellis is also able to incorporate the occasional reference to his subject matter’s previous adventures into the mix, such as having the intelligence officer’s driver at Heathrow use James’ “Diamonds Are Forever” alias “Peter Franks” on the arrivals placard; “You’re a funny man, Bill. I’d come over there and shoot you if I still had a gun.” Such delightful nods to the secret serviceman's formidable history doubtless caused a knowing smile amongst many of this publication’s 15,667 strong audience, as must have M’s familiar spikiness when he dispatches his unarmed operative to liaise with some MI5 colleagues, and reminds Bond he’ll have just his wits to rely upon.
Equally as impressive, despite having to handle a somewhat sedentary script, is Jason Masters’ artwork. The South African penciller really manages to capture the fierce manly arrogance of Sean Connery’s silver screen performance, without his protagonist actually bearing the actor’s physical features. As a result, a dapperly dressed 007 appears wonderfully at ease during the animated action sequences, and later dangerously constricted within the confines of his suit when moodily sat during a debriefing.
|Writer: Warren Ellis, Artist: Jason Masters, and Colors: Guy Major|