You have to wonder if a James Bond comic can be this good for so many issues in a row what’s to stop another publisher from making a killer Jason Bourne comic? Then again, if you don’t have superstar writer Warren Ellis and a phenom-artist like Jason Masters…what do you got anyway? So let’s look at issue #9 of James Bond–is it good?
James Bond #9 (Dynamite Entertainment)
So what’s it about? The Dynamite summary reads:
EIDOLON, Part Three: Bond is sent to breach a secret base in the depths of England, alone, without back-up, and fully deniable: a place from Cold War history, with only one way in and one way out, while the forces of security services all over the world are seemingly ranged against MI6, and all Bond has is his gun and a few pieces of a bloody, dark puzzle…
Why does this book matter?
If you read the intro above you know this is a fantastic series in this reviewer’s opinion. Ellis and Masters have made a James Bond who’s a bit harder edged than the most recent one we’ve seen in the movies, but also knows how to have fun. More importantly, when it gets violent he hits back like a viper with no remorse in the slightest. He’s a cold blooded killer, as a spy should be–and that’s exciting.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Hacking in comics!
Though the first eight pages of this comic are steeped in politics, inter-office squabbling, and what appears to be some kind of confusing backstabber amongst Bond’s crew this is yet another good issue. I’ll get to all that bad stuff in a bit, but let’s focus on the good! Ellis continues to make the fact that Bond can’t have a gun when on UK soil interesting as his hands are tied even when the threat is at home. He was attacked with some serious firepower last issue and MI5 wants the case. Clearly MI6 doesn’t want to just give it to them, especially when the type of firepower the bad guys have makes them a suspect. To ramp up the intrigue Ellis introduces an interesting secret system of steam powered trains, which if you think about it, is like a villain’s secret lair! Last month Ellis introduced his first Bond babe and now this.
We also get another fantastic scene with Q. He appeared briefly in another issue, but he gets more page time this go around and he’s just as edgy as the last.
From there Ellis puts it in Masters’ hands who delivers in droves. It’s all about Bond infiltrating this underground hideout–first preparing himself, then sneaking up with well placed panels, interesting layouts (a four panel train tunnel divided up to show Bond running in) and finally lots of brutal action. Masters continues to show he’s very good at drawing rooms and environments with long hallways and doorways for Bond to enter looking like storyboards for a movie. The action sequence also uses light very well and he does even better with the absence of light for dramatic effect. Budding artists take note, these pages are like a master class in lighting!
It can’t be perfect can it?
Unfortunately, the opening pages are boring and somewhat confusing. I know the team doesn’t trust MI5, but to be ready to shoot and even stab her seems to be a bit much. Maybe the gravity of this situation wasn’t set up well enough or maybe reading this series in single issue format dulled the impact of the last issue. Either way, with the tension lost the scene loses its impact.
This opening scene is also drawn with a few awkward panels which make it hard to understand what’s happening. In one, Bond and another man walk closer to the MI5 character, which I think is to convey think she might do something dangerous, but their poses and the lack of any background make it hard to understand what they’re doing. Giving it thought, this scene is most likely trying to show us our heroes almost pacing around this character with nervousness, but it just doesn’t come off that way. Instead it’s rife with awkward facial expressions and confusing body language.
See what I mean?
Is It Good?
Save for an awkward opening first four pages, this is another good issue that continues the story and raises the stakes for MI6. If for nothing else, read this comic to see Bond kick ass and Masters compose a fantastic action sequence.