Young James Bond officially joins the war and lands in underwater peril.
After two fairly episodic issues, this month brings us to the series’ first multi-part story. I was pleasantly surprised, considering how much ground was covered in the first two issues, to see Origin taking its time with this chapter. It has been thrilling to see Bond thrust from school into secret spy training and then into the Royal Navy, but I’m enjoying seeing James taking a breath, getting his bearings, and adjusting to his new life in the service.
It’s a great storytelling move, because Jeff Parker can always be relied upon for bombastic action sequences (which always deliver), but I have found that the quiet moments are where this series has really shone in its first few months. The scenes of James finding common ground with his fellow students or learning the tiniest of new morsels of information about his parents have been sweet, character-building respites from the carnage of war.
In the case of this issue, the quiet and the fury work well together to build a sense of dread. The silent pages in which we move from panel to panel, seeing the faces of the men on the submarine with James as they listen to the ping of the radar and wait for the danger to either pass or swallow them whole, are incredibly tense, especially without dialogue intruding on the scene. This sequence is incredibly effective and shows an admirable amount of restraint on Jeff Parker’s part. Bob Q’s illustrations really show the fear in the sailors’ eyes. In their frozen expressions, you can almost feel yourself holding your breath along with them.
If I had one gripe, it’d be the sudden way in which the issue ends. It feels less like a cliffhanger and more of a divider in an extra-sized issue. I half-expected to find another couple of pages of story on the other side and I actually found myself flipping back a page to make sure I hadn’t missed anything! Cutting in on a moment of action in this way may end up being a strong point when next month’s issue gives it more context or when the entire arc is reread in a trade paperback, almost like a chapter break in a movie serial. At this time, however, it just feels too abrupt. On the positive side, it has made me all the more hungry for the next installment.
All in all, this is another strong issue of Origin, showcasing Bond’s observational skills and quick thinking in a crisis. He’s already becoming the envy of his fellow sailors, so it will be interesting to see if his problem-solving skills will win them over or further distance him from them in the months to come. After all, he almost certainly didn’t make many friends along the way to becoming the acerbic loner of Ian Fleming’s novels.