Having botched his most recent mission thanks to the intervention of a brutal Korean assassin, James Bond is put back in the field under extra supervision. Can Bond stop this latest terrorist plot or will he be the next 00 to be broken by the new Oddjob?
This issue was like slipping into a warm bath. It uses the tropes of the Bond film franchise in ways that are new but comfortably familiar. There’s a boat chase, a shootout, an explosive showdown on an island, and (maybe most importantly) a gearing-up scene with Q. This version of Q may be working with more modern equipment, but it’s always a joy to see the playfully adversarial relationship between him and Bond. I love how this series seems to be treading the fine line between the more modern espionage of the Craig films and the gadget-centric silliness of the older era. Also, I’m a sucker for a Q Branch scene in the movies, so seeing various other researchers testing out flamethrowers and the like in the background of these panels put a smile on my face.
The big plot point in this issue that will have Bond fans talking is the revelation that the Oddjob that Bond faces is the latest in a line of them, essentially making Oddjob into a legacy character. The most notable thing about this is that it borrows from a longstanding fan theory about Bond himself.
You see, there’s an idea in some sections of the 007 fandom that “James Bond” in itself is a code name of sorts, passed down to each new agent to take the number 007. I don’t subscribe to this idea (and the events of the films actually contradict it anyway), but it’s a fun way of making the change in actor (say, from Sean Connery to Roger Moore) into an actual part of the story. The fact that Greg Pak has been able to take this concept and apply it in telling an all-new story is pretty fantastic. Also, the “old Oddjob” is drawn to resemble Harold Sakata’s portrayal in 1964’s Goldfinger. It’s a nice touch.
Similarly to last issue, I love the contrast between Bond and the new Oddjob, John Lee. We get see them go about their days on the job and it’s fascinating to see how similar the two are. So many Bond villains love to spout off that classic line of, “We’re not so different, you and I.” While we don’t get any back-and-forth quite so cliché in this issue, this is the first time where that notion of similitude seems to ring true. That they’re both working the same job, just from different angles, helps to make the comparisons even clearer.
My only real problem is how behind on the draw Bond is for so much of it. I know it’s meant to illustrate how capable Lee is as an agent, but it does leave Bond looking like a bit of a putz (until the last few pages, at least).
This issue did a great job of clearing up my problems with the first one and introduces some thrilling new story ideas. This series is capturing the tone of the films in a way that even the excellent Warren Ellis series did not, so I’m thrilled to see where it’s going next.