After their explosive and daring escape from the clutches of Goldfinger and ORU, the unlikely team of Bond, Lee, and Kim have found themselves in another trap: MI6’s rehabilitation program!
Right off the bat, this issue has a decidedly different tone from previous installments, but in a good way. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the fun blockbuster action this franchise is known for, but there’s a much more somber air to the proceedings here.
We start with a harrowing dream sequence for Aria Kim as she fights against her programming. While Kim has been a presence throughout this series, she hasn’t necessarily been the focus. She’s also been brainwashed by Goldfinger and his team, so she hasn’t had agency of her own until now. This issue goes a long way toward making her a character in her own right.
Greg Pak’s choice to parallel Kim’s time in rehab with flashbacks of her indoctrination into ORU is a clever choice. It allows the reader to sympathize with her while simultaneously worrying about just how much of this programming she’s been able to shake. Nerve implants or not, brainwashing is brainwashing. Even if these agents don’t like it, MI6 is right to worry about long term effects.
Artist Robert Carey also makes some interesting choices in this issue, particularly during the flashback and dream sequences. Kim is always somewhat removed from everyone else, with a bit of space between her and whoever else is in the scene. It perfectly illustrates her isolation and sets up an interesting visual motif that is repeated in the issue’s final moments. These sequences are further strengthened by Roshan Kurichiyanil’s colors, with the cold blues of the wintery flashbacks and the rusty, almost bloody hues of the opening dream sequence giving these more a dreamlike quality.
As for our title character, we get to see him somewhat out of his element. He knows Moneypenny knows him better than anyone, which is laid out in a wonderful sequence where we see all of the precautions she’s taken to keep the agents under lock and key. While it’s not entirely clear how much of this is a ruse on MI6’s part (I’m sure we’ll understand more later), it’s still a fantastic use of the characters’ relationship with one another. I know I’ve sang the praises of Pak’s characterization of Moneypenny before, but it really is wonderful what he’s done with her. She’s caring and empathetic, but at the end of the day, she’ll get her job done and damn the consequences.
Bond is all smiles throughout the issue, showing us some of his restored confidence. It’s been a rough ride for our favorite spy, with the ride sometimes being entirely out of his control. However, the stage has been set for a final confrontation with Goldfinger. It just remains to be seen which of our heroes will be left standing when it’s all over.