Sunday, 16 October 2016

James Bond #9 - Dynamite Entertainment

JAMES BOND No. 9, August 2016
Initially somewhat slow, yet nonetheless tense as frustrated senior MI5 field officer Eve Sharma gets uncomfortably close to M’s desk, Warren Ellis' narrative for Issue Nine of “James Bond” doesn’t really liven up until halfway through the comic book, and even then it arguably has the titular character doing little except noiselessly manoeuvre himself through “a maze of tunnels under a hill and quarry” where “a fleet of steam locomotives” is being held in case there is ever “a nuclear attack on Britain.” Happily however, such disappointing inactivity does finally come to an end once the British Secret Service “tourist” is spotted by Eidolon’s heavily-armed freelancers and the horribly disfigured Hawkwood instructs his goons to “Bring me a corpse. I’ll pay a bonus.”

Such high-octane antics as the spy barrelling his way amongst the long-abandoned trains, gunning down the occasional long-bearded braggart despite their conspicuous body armour or hurling “a cheeky grenade or three” really must have pleased this comic’s 12,917 readers after such a dialogue-heavy and meandering start. Yet any such exhilaration caused by Cullen’s sour-faced ne’er-do-wells getting their comeuppance is frustratingly cut-short by Jason Master’s pencilling an unarmed titular character confronting a gun-toting mercenary in one bottom panel and “Dynamite Entertainment” ‘bolting on’ a “special preview of James Bond Hammerhead #1” into the next…  

This sudden and most unwelcome conclusion to the twenty-two page book is made all the more infuriating by the publisher’s bizarre decision to actually print a scene from their ‘new mini-series’ which is very similar in appearance and action to the darkly atmospheric firefight of “Eidolon”. As a result it isn’t until Luca Casalanguida’s noticeably different (and arguably inferior) art style sinks home that it becomes evident that Bond is not only no longer staving off the well-paid automatic weapon-carrying lackeys of SPECTRE. But is instead fighting a totally unknown group of foes from a totally unrelated periodical.

Potentially unenthused by so sedentary a script, Master’s breakdowns for much of this magazine are disappointingly lifeless and in many instances, such as when Tanner secrets a penknife down his sleeve in M’s office, contain some extremely stiff-looking, wooden drawings. Fortunately though, the South African’s artwork improves immeasurably once the Royal Naval Reserve Commander stealthily enters the “secret underground town” Box Tunnel and starts killing Cullen’s wilful dogs of war.
Writer: Warren Ellis, Artist: Jason Masters, and Colors: Guy Major

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