James Bond is hot on the trail of the terrorist group known as ORU. Unfortunately for James, so is John Lee, the new Oddjob! Can James put his rivalry aside long enough to stop the bad guys, or will he and Lee tear each other apart first?
Right from the first page, I knew this issue was kicking things up a notch. We get to see M “out in the field,” as it were, dealing with the opposing side in the way only he can: by being terrifyingly polite. It says something about how Greg Pak scripts the character when the image of M smiling over a pint of beer can be more intimidating than seeing James pulling a gun. It’s great to see M in a more hands-on role, even when it’s still in the act of dealing with red tape and bureaucracy.
From there, we are thrown straight into a skydiving sequence that is both thrilling and hilarious. I am greatly enjoying Pak’s approach to Moneypenny. She looks out for Bond, but has absolutely no patience when it comes to his bullheaded nature. In a rare example of this version of Bond dropping a Roger Moore-esque one-liner, she audibly groans. I love it.
The action sequence that takes up the bulk of this issue is insane, taking us from a knife fight into a pursuit on foot, then into a shootout, and finally an intense car chase. It’s interesting to see Bond getting so wrapped up in his fight with Lee, especially since this issue is written and illustrated in ways that genuinely make the reader wonder whether Bond is simply trying to eliminate the competition or if his true desire is to one-up his Korean counterpart.
Marc Laming’s command of facial expressions elevates the battle, showing us just how cocky the two agents can be. Bond smiles as he parachutes into enemy territory and when he trains a gun on his targets. Lee seems bemused by the constant interruptions until the fight becomes desperate. Towards the end of the issue, both men take on the demeanor of caged animals. The anger in their eyes fully sells their desire to tear each other apart. The hand-to-hand fights between the two are savage, but measured. It truly looks like you’re watching two impeccably trained agents squaring off.
The issue is capped off with a final page that beautifully sets up the next part of this story arc. I can’t say I was expecting the turn it’s taking, but I’m so looking forward to seeing how the change in the series’ dynamic will inform the development of our main characters. Yes, this series has seemingly done the impossible and given us a take on Ian Fleming’s 007 mythos that features Oddjob as a character just as compelling as Bond. I finish each issue hungry for more information on the dashing and brutal John Lee.
When I review anything, I approach rating it on a scale of enjoyment. In the case of this book, I had an absolute blast from start to finish. There’s not a panel I would change or a line I would edit. This series manages to perfectly capture the magic of the classic Bond films and novels while still feeling consistently fresh.
For fans of James Bond: we still have quite a long wait for Bond 25. However, thanks to Dynamite, Greg Pak and Marc Laming are delivering the most exciting Bond story in years EVERY MONTH. Do not sleep on this series.