After a Norwegian trading ship goes down in flames, James Bond suspects foul play. Now, if only he could get someone to listen to him!
Ibrahim Moustafa joins James Bond: Origin as the interior artist with this month’s issue and it’s a match made in heaven. I adored Bob Q’s artwork in the first six issues, particularly in the high-flying action sequences of the third and fourth issues. Moustafa brings a very different, grounded energy that still feels like a good match for the material. Since both Q and Moustafa do top-notch work, this is thankfully a case of a change in artists going smoothly.
Much like he displayed in his excellent one-shot James Bond: Solstice, Moustafa has a gift for rendering action sequences that are so expressive and dynamic that they render dialogue and narration superfluous. Jeff Parker clearly understands that fully, giving good chunks of the issue over to Moustafa’s pencils and Roman Stevens’ suitably noir color schemes. The result is the most engaging issue of Origin‘s run, so far.
While it’s been nice seeing Bond get a leg up on the competition in previous issues, it’s also obvious that his failure in last month’s story has humbled him somewhat. He’s less openly rebellious in this issue, willing to follow orders (to a fault). What’s more, he allows himself to be second-guessed by his commanding officer, who doesn’t understand how such a young man was afforded the rank of Lieutenant. It’s a nice change of pace from the version of Bond we usually see, who seems to always be three or four steps ahead of everyone else.
Humility is not a normal “super spy” trait and the decision to instill that in Bond grounds his character a bit more. Jeff Parker has done a great job of balancing Bond’s coolness with his dedication. Bond can be a blowhard, but he’s a blowhard who will die for Queen and Country.
This issue features nice callbacks to the second issue of the series, detailing Bond’s spy training. The scenes where James is putting together the clues to figure out what really happened to the Norwegian crew are done exceedingly well. The clues are presented to the reader without being overly obvious, while Stevens’ colors lend each page a clear delineation between present day and flashbacks.
Where the issue succeeds in sharing tight continuity with the first few issues, it’s not quite so clear how this ties back into the events of the sixth issue. Bond suffered a pretty heavy setback in his mission, but it’s unclear how much longer after that loss that this adventure takes place.
However, Jeff Parker has done a great job with showing that each mission is connected in some way, always bringing things back around to the shady events that set Bond’s new life in motion, so I’m sure it will be addressed at some point. Still, the opening of this issue was slightly jarring in that respect.
The last few issues of this series have consistently topped the one before it (with this one being perhaps the best so far), so I’m all aboard for wherever this new creative team decides to take James.