Story: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Masters
Colors: Guy Major
What They Say:
Beginning “VARGR”, the first story in the ongoing James Bond comic series by best-selling writer Warren Ellis! James Bond returns to London after a mission of vengeance in Helsinki, to take up the workload of a fallen 00 Section agent. But something evil is moving through the back streets of the city, and sinister plans are being laid for Bond in Berlin…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While I know I have some James Bond comics in my collection somewhere, I also know that they were fairly unmemorable works. With it being something like twenty years since this property has been used proper in comics, it’s fitting that we get the debut of a new work in this atmosphere just as the latest film arrives in theaters. While I’m far from an expert on the franchise, I’ve watched the movies since I was a young kid as my father spent his twenties seeing the first ones in theaters and loved them, hence owning expensive VHS tapes back in the day. I’ve read a few of the novels and have engaged in plenty of discussions of the films and meanings over the years to be able to “get it” in a basic sense at least. So I’m definitely hopeful that we can get a property here that takes this to where it needs to be.
This opening installment has a difficult job to be sure as Warren Ellis and Jason Masters have to establish their take on it while also playing, at least for now, to the familiar and expected. That means we get a prologue story here for the start, some time with M and Moneypenny, a dash of time with Q and then the beginnings of the actual mission itself. It would be wrong to not have it in a sense, at least for the start of the series, but it’s also a restrictive element. One that the pair pulls off well because they have to give us their Bond. It’s likely drawing on different variations from film and print so at the moment he doesn’t come across as terribly distinctive, which is actually a plus when you consider his work. He’s suave enough, cold enough and also frustrated with the nature of working as a spy these days that you can understand why he’d prefer to just drink and work through casinos for the rest of his days. There’s a darkness there that’s only held at bay by the work.
The work itself has the potential to be interesting as he takes on a case from 008’s load, with 008 having been killed recently and Bond spending the prologue taking down the killer as sanctioned revenge from MI6. The case itself has to deal with a new synthetic drug that’s making its way into the UK from the continent and he’s being sent off to investigate it, which is coinciding with someone mysterious elsewhere setting a killer on his path to take out Bond. Again, nothing unfamiliar and it’s not all the detailed yet to really draw us in as it sets the stage. What helps is that we get a bit of character out of Bond in his interactions with everyone else. Most notably with Q, who gives him no end of shit for the weapon he uses and that he can’t carry it while back in the UK due to the Hard Rule being enacted. That just speaks volumes of how poorly the government is being handled when your top level spies are kept from being protected at all times, especially when traveling to their destination in other countries. it’s an intriguing bit of modernization that highlights some of the difficulties of the craft.
I’m hard pressed to talk story at this point because we’re just getting the edges of it at the moment. What the opening installment of the series does is bring us a solidly hard version of bond with an odd sense of humor and lightness at times that reminds us why he’s different. Ellis has captured a good version to work with that can be expanded upon to be sure, though I’d prefer it if it stuck more to the stories of the mission than the character as the films have relied on that heavily as of late. The book also makes out very well with Jason Masters on the artwork here sa it’s filled with great backgrounds a good sense of flow and tension while also slowly figuring out how their Bond looks and moves. That has to have been the hardest thing in the world, especially with whatever notes they were given from the licensor. It’ll take some time to get used to him, just like every actor or novel version, but it’s looking like a really solid way to enjoy new Bond material on a regular basis.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: November 4th, 2015