Story: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Masters
Colors: Guy Major
What They Say:
The secret of VARGR is revealed, and it means that Bond has to descend into a nightmare scenario – alone. Just his gun and his skills versus a murderous conspiracy to turn Britain into a testing zone for death drugs. Dynamite Entertainment proudly concludes the debut storyline to the first ongoing James Bond comic book in over 20 years! “Ian Fleming’s James Bond is an icon, and it’s a delight to tell visual narratives with the original, brutal, damaged Bond of the books.” – Warren Ellis
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The first arc of the James Bond series comes to a close here and it’s one that’s mostly payoff in the action sense. I’ve struggled with this series from the start because the medium is one that I think can work but hasn’t clicked well in this iteration so far. I’m not sure if it’s because we get an “original” Bond here or because of the story itself. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a number of Ellis’ other works and Jason Masters has nailed the visual design for this, even more so in an issue like this where it’s all action and the flow of it is hugely critical. There are a lot of smaller parts that work well here but the book as a whole just hasn’t clicked – though it’s made me draw a few of the older Fleming books back into my reading pile.
With the finale, it really is all action here. Bond knows where the ship is now and has the tools he needs to go in for an observation run on it under supervision from above. There’s a nice bit early on with the equip side and the realization that he’s not going to just observe as well as a fun nod toward how he’s going to have to “cope” with the extraction. The infiltration is pretty solid as there’s a lot of fun seeing him being stealthy – after taking out a couple of guards that didn’t see him but that he reported that they did. Bond’s intent on taking down this operation once and for all, no surprise considering the losses so far, and he’s not going to let it go through the usual official channels via the government’s.
Not surprising is that things go south fairly quickly as he gets accidentally discovered. Though there’s no “story” per se in this, Ellis and Masters put together a great series of action sequences with some fantastic design work to it. Some of it is a little more grisly than I’d care for, since that’s typically not been a staple of the 007 framework, but it gets the job done and shows just what he’s capable of and willing to do. It all ends in a natural kind of way with Kurjak and there are no surprises there but I did like Bond just asking plainly for a no bullshit answer as to why he’s doing all of this. Kurjak’s reasoning may work in his own head but it just sounded so nonsensical and disconnected from what he had done that the final bullet is entirely warranted just for that.
The opening storyline for the James Bond ongoing series draws to a close and I’m really conflicted about it. I’ll likely stick to it for the next arc to see if things come together a bit better now that some of the basics have been established, but I’m almost rooting for a rotating series to be put into play with different writer/artist combinations to deal with it. I’m a fan of Ellis to a good degree but so far he just feels like an ill fit for the book in capturing and exploring the character and situations, at least based on this first story. Masters definitely gets to go all out with the artwork here and that’s the biggest selling point of the book since there’s not much in the way of story to latch onto here.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: April 20th, 2016