08th Mar2021

‘James Bond: Agent of Spectre #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Christos Gage | Art by Luca Casalanguida | Published by Dynamite Entertainment

I’ve been reading James Bond comics nearly as long as I’ve been watching James Bond films (the books came later for me, if you are wondering). I bought, and still have, the Marvel Comics adaptation of For Your Eyes Only, released back in 1981. I bought, but no longer have, the Mike Grell Eclipse Comics James Bond books, which I remember liking a lot, and also a fair smattering of the Dark Horse 90’s Bond stuff. Good stuff all. I have not, I’m afraid to say, yet sampled the Dynamite books. Dynamite have had the licence since 2014, and a quick check shows a decent slate of books and some top notch creators involved. That is why I hold this book in my hand, virtually speaking. The great cover by Steve Epting lured me in, a simple but classic Connery style image, and seeing Christos Gage was writing kept me hanging around. Let’s take a look.

This being Bond we need to open with excitement, and literally the very first panel has bullets zinging around. We open on a English Channel ferry, and Bond is trying to bring in Winstone, a suspected SPECTRE informant. After a frantic chase, Winstone dies overboard. Later, back at MI6 HQ, Bond is reporting back to his boss, M, and Moneypenny. Turns out that, due to recent infiltration by SPECTRE, Bond, M, and Moneypenny are keeping all intel to themselves as they can trust no one else. Although Winstone died, Bond recovered his briefcase full of documents, and they reveal he was to meet with someone in Paris. That someone, M is quite sure, is none other than Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE himself. A 20 stone, six foot six former weightlifter, he loves to garrote people who disappoint. Which is nice. To add extra spice, Blofeld is meeting with an ‘asset’ from MI6, and Bond is tasked to capture and return the traitor.

Off to Paris we go, and Bond takes out a room full of henchmen in time honoured fashion. It was, as he suspected, a set up. Blofeld comes at him and, one violent toe to toe later, reveals he deliberately set things up for Bond to come. He wants his help. To kill a senior member of SPECTRE. Er, what? Seems a civil war is brewing, and a member of the SPECTRE Leadership Council, Titania Jones, is making a move against Blofeld. The following to and fro between Blofeld and Bond is written superbly, Gage really getting under the skin of two alpha males trading verbal blows. Blofeld tells Bond stabilising SPECTRE will keep the world economy stable, and avoid a lot of collateral damage. Plus, money. Oh, and they have CIA agent and Bond’s friend Felix Leiter under observation, and he will be executed if anything happens to Blofeld. Bond accepts. Or does he.

As we have to wait until nest issue to see what happens, things can go various ways. Bond could be doing this genuinely, to save Leiter, James Bond, (temporary) Agent of SPECTRE. He could also just be playing for time, to work out how to save Leiter and take out Blofeld and Jones. It could also have been his and M’s plan all along, knowing it was a set-up. The possibilities are endless. Blofeld’s reasons for taking out Jones may also be a tad more complicated than he’s admitting. Everyone’s lying to everyone is my starting point with these things.

Gage has managed to write an intriguing first issue, throwing us straight in to the murky world Bond inhabits. Blofeld is both different and yet strangely familiar, and the dialogue between all the characters is superbly done. Blofeld’s and Bond’s sizing each other up over several pages is mesmerisingly done. The art, by Luca Casalanguida, and colours, by Heather Morre, are perfect. The art reminds me a lot of Luke McDonnell, having a sort of scratchy retro art style that suits this character perfectly. The colours add a nice moody atmosphere that merge nicely with the art, reminding us these are people working from and in the shadows.

Comic book Bond has beaten movie screen Bond back into the public eye after a few years away. It’s been worth the wait.

**** 4/5


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