James Bond has never really worked for me in comics form but the idea of giving the character to Warren Ellis to write is such an astonishingly obvious one that I’m amazed nobody has ever actually thought of getting him to do this before. Obviously with the latest Bond film Spectre being out a couple of weeks ago this is prime time to release a new Bond comic.
Together with artist James Masters, Ellis’s first storyline Vargr, sees the action start in Helsinki in a silent sequence as Bond hunts down a mysterious character who looks like the bad guy..
After a brutal and bloody fight, the action and Bond switches to London, but this isn’t the shiny tourist friendly London you see in the Bond films (even the Daniel Craig films look like an ad for Visit London), this is a more gritty, harder, grayer London as Bond reports into MI6 headquarters and bit of banter with Moneypenny, who isn’t just a secretary he’s in front of M who puts Bond very firmly in his place.
Bond’s mission is to investigate a drugs ring operating in London that are distributing a synthetic drug, but in this version, Bond has more trouble from the UK government banning him from carrying a gun while he’s on UK soil. This is very much a 21st century story with Bond a relic of the 20th century.
Masters draws Bond as described in the books, so he looks like a more dashing Sean Connery, rather than the more metrosexual Daniel Craig. Overall Masters does a brilliant job in this issue as most of it after the initial action scene is just people sitting around talking. Not the easiest thing to make look good in these types of comics.
This is simply the best comics version of James Bond I’ve read. Ellis keeps the character of Bond pure in that he’s still a sexist murderer, but everything around him is changing while he doesn’t and it’s the way this is told that’s refreshing. It’d never work as a film (far too violent, far too smart) but as I’ve said, the marriage of Ellis and Bond is obvious and works perfectly.