Tuesday, 11 September 2018

James Bond: Origin #1 - Dynamite Entertainment

JAMES BOND: ORIGIN No. 1, September 2018
Publicized by “Dynamite Entertainment” as “the definitive account of James Bond’s exploits during World War Two”, this twenty-seven page periodical certainly packed plenty of pulse-pounding punch in September 2018 with its wonderfully tense depiction of the Clydebank Blitz, “the most devastating German attack on Scotland during the War”, and intriguing spy shenanigans set within a strictly-run Scottish school for boys. Indeed, considering that writer Jeff Parker himself admitted that any such comic would prove “a weighty challenge”, this narrative’s enjoyably enthralling pace and clever depiction of its titular character being simply “tenacious and a lightning-quick study”, as opposed to a contrived junior version of the famous “double-O agent”, should readily have dispelled any fears long-term fans of the franchise had that the “Oregon-based writer” couldn’t “nail the promising hero in his youth.”

Arguably this comic’s biggest success therefore, as opposed to the marvellous “gravitas of war in 1941 Europe” which its terrifying opening portrays, is its depiction of the seventeen-year-old’s exacting education and engrossing relationships with Bond’s disciplinarian teachers, friends and bullish enemies. These all-too brief ‘days of innocence’ do admittedly read somewhat like one of Enid Blyton’s naively-penned “Famous Five” novels with Professor Keller suddenly being visited by a mysterious man who is revealed to be “working for… [the] Nazis in Denmark” on some rocket plans, and a suspicious young James deciding to try to overhear the two men’s conspiratorial conversation. But such similarities to the “strong moral framework” of Blyton’s popular children’s stories is debatably precisely the sort of straightforward sense of right from wrong which a future secret serviceman should have; “I tried to follow the men who attacked the professor -- I lost them!”

Ultimately however, it is probably this comic’s incredibly dramatic and emotional representation of a German night-time bombing run over a highly-populated residential area, which rather cleverly bookends the cast’s innocent(ish) school days, that potentially attracted the most praise, as the incredibly well-penned extended sequence leaps from one sense-shattering scene to another as Commander Weldon desperately tries to lead his wards to safety amidst a plethora of deadly exploding shells, and Bond demonstrates his willingness to put his personal welfare second when others are in dire need of assistance. Energetically pencilled and coloured by Bob Q, these panels are a real treat for the eyes, and doubtless helped many bibliophiles both almost feel the intense heat of the fires surrounding Ian Fleming's "icon", as well as hear the deafening roar of the enemy aeroplanes as they drone overhead devilishly delivering more death and destruction with every passing second.
Script: Jeff Parker, Art & Colour: Bob Q, and Letters: Simon Bowland

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