Comic Review: ‘James Bond’ #1

Written by:  Warren Ellis / pencilled by:  James Masters

What’s it about?

“VARGR” : after avenging the death of fellow agent 008, James Bond – 007 – returns home to take up the workload of his fallen comrade whilst elsewhere, sinister plans are being drawn against him…

In review

Just in time for the international release of Spectre, Dynamite Entertainment has launched its first James Bond comic book after acquiring the licence to Ian Fleming’s iconic super spy last year.

Written by Warren Ellis, fan-favourite author of the likes of Iron Man: Extremis and Global Frequency, Dynamite’s James Bond #1 presents the opening chapter of “VARGR” and depicts a version of the cold hearted (yet oddly romantic) and lethal spy that is more in line with Ian Fleming’s novels as opposed to the at times tamer and more heroic version of the character often favoured in the Bond film series (a portrayal itself that is every part as valid as the character envisioned by Fleming).

Ellis certainly doesn’t withhold on the lethal aspect of Bond, with a tense and thrilling 9-page opening sequence that slowly reveals 007 as he pursues – and violently dispatches – the killer of 008 that will both shock and delight readers.  The dialogue here is sparse as Ellis wisely relinquishes the bulk of the storytelling to penciller James Masters, who delivers a moody and partially retro style that helps to evoke the atmosphere and spirit of Fleming.  The sequence flows perfectly from panel to panel until Bond himself is fully revealed, the dark haired, smartly suited figure depicted as Ian Fleming imagined (even down to that scarred cheek).

What follows is (perhaps deliberately) more slowly paced and less enthralling with Ellis laying out exposition as Bond returns to MI6.  If a little heavy, it serves to introduce readers to the supporting characters and an opportunity to become more acquainted with Bond in the hum-drum office environment as he flirts with Moneypenny, receives a dressing down from M and discusses politics with Chief of Staff Bill Tanner in the cafeteria before reporting to the Quartermaster – ‘Q’ – to prepare for his next assignment.  It plays out much like a Bond film yet via Ellis and Masters is infused with the feel of Fleming’s novels, giving us a version of 007 that manages to be both reverential and simultaneously all of its own, grounded with a dash of real world concern as Bond is confronted with a new spy-regulating law that prevents him from carrying a weapon on British soil.

Whilst largely functioning as a prologue to the overall plot of “VARGR”, James Bond #1 comes to a tantalising close as we’re introduced to the imposing Mr. Masters, the impending threat that will (no doubt) soon be presented to Bond.  With the measure of preliminary exposition dealt with, here’s hoping that Warren Ellis and James Masters build a sprawling and exciting adventure that’s worthy of the attention of James Bond fans new and old.

The bottom line:  Despite some heavy set-up, James Bond #1 delivers hints of what could prove to be an appealing new iteration of Ian Fleming’s iconic creation.

James Bond #1 is published by Dynamite Entertainment and is available in print and digital formats now.

Cover art for Dynamite Entertainment's 'James Bond' #1 by Dom Reardon.

Cover art for Dynamite Entertainment’s ‘James Bond’ #1 by Dom Reardon.

3 thoughts on “Comic Review: ‘James Bond’ #1

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