Review – James Bond (2020) #1 (Dynamite)

Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writers: Vita Ayala & Danny Lore
Artwork: Eric Gapstur
Colourist: Roshan Kurichiyanil
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Release Date: 4th December 2019

A priceless Rothko abstract painting, on loan to a museum, is found to have been forged and stolen. Insurance investigator Brandy Keys and her partner Reese are tasked with finding out how it was done and who is responsible, but despite every trick in their not inconsiderable armoury, they’re going to need the help of someone with a different set of skills. When their investigation leads them to a seedy bar and things start to go sideways, that someone steps out of the shadows, with deadly, decisive action and a pithy quip. If James Bond is to help Keys and Reese then he must enter a world he knows nothing of, the world of high stakes international art smuggling, and conquer a host of seemingly anonymous and invisible enemies.

Vita Ayala and Danny Lore bring us a reimagining of Ian Fleming’s eponymous hero, pitching him into a world where he doesn’t have all the answers and forcing him to admit that in order to survive, he will need to rely on the help of others.

I like the idea of taking Bond out of his comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love the suave, cool, unflappable Bond, but where I’ve always found him most interesting is where he’s vulnerable and unarmed, be it literally or emotionally. Timothy Dalton was, for me perfect as Bond, and despite some of his stories not really landing, I’ve really liked Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond for the same reasons. These versions show us a broken 007, one who by and large survives the odds purely with his own instinct and skill, and without the support of his armoury of gadgets, his department or his country.

As first issues go, I’d equate this to the familiar scene you get in a Bond movie before the opening credits; a little glimpse of the plot and our hero arriving explosively on the screen before the dramatic theme song and choreographed title sequence. With Dynamite publications, I have found over the years that if you want to start a series, you’d better be in it for the long haul, and I think that might be a wise approach for this particular revival of James Bond.

While this is a reasonable intro to a new Bond series, I can’t really tell you anything about Ayala and Lore’s depiction of the man himself as we only get two glimpses of him in the whole issue and two whole lines of dialogue. Ian Fleming’s Bond was always written as a thriller series, it wasn’t until Cubby Broccoli got on board (and not really until Roger Moore became Bond) that 007 became more of an action hero. Thrillers are typically reliant on tension, and there’s not a lot of tension in this issue; things move too quickly for that, and while this will hopefully get us into the story quickly, I’m hoping that future issues bring us back to the heart of Bond.

I’m not 100% sold on the artwork in this series. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it. Indeed, it’s very much in the style of Greg Capullo, both in the way it’s drawn and coloured, I just don’t think it suits the story particularly well. I think however, that this is more a sign of my age than a fault with the work Gapstur and Kurichiyanil have produced. For me, whatever they do to reinvent and reimagine 007, he will always be the suave, gritty and above all British secret agent that I grew up with and, if Gapstur will forgive me, this just felt very American.

This is a tricky series to rate based on its first issue. I think it really needs a few issues to get a good idea of whether it will be good or not but I like the premise that it’s being built on, and at the end of the day, that’s enough to keep me interested in seeking out the next issue.

Rating: 3/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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