In a new edition of Bond’s adventures, we find him thrown into a world he doesn’t understand. This premise at first appears to be more quarrelsome with the idea of a meditative narrative that seeks to slow things down rather than offering a huge thrill ride. To me, this has been one of the more fascinating moments with the character since Ales Kot’s rendition of Bond through his fantastic miniseries The Body.
Truth be told, I find Bond to be a limited character. He has a set of tools, a premise to murder anyone, and consistently sleeps with some poor girl whose life he inevitably endangers. Whenever I unpack the James Bond premise, I find him to be nothing more than a broaching misogynist who has genuine social anxieties over the world and copes through them by being a thrill-seeker and a liar. In earnest, that is what makes Bond an endearing character throughout cinema. Not the gadgets, not the suits, but his relationships with people. Especially women.
One of the more refreshing takes of Bond in this issue was his ability to simply hold a conversation with a woman that wasn’t in the vein of trying to bed her. While admittedly, the series has already followed the routine of Bond sleeping with a woman, I think this issue is an earnest attempt at admitting the elevation of this character. Ayala and Lore have managed to create a narrative that manages to allow us to dissect Bond by putting him in a situation where he has the least expertise. In pairing him with two other people that are offering a great bounce of dialogue, lettered by Hassan Elhaou-Otsmane it gives insight into Bond’s inability to form friends.
Each character, especially Brandy, is drawn wonderfully through Gapstur, who really positions the women and people of color with great strength and poise. It’s really subtle the way these creators are bringing modern necessities into Bond, and proffering to the audience a look into how Bond holds relationships. While it doesn’t hold the high impact that everyone clamors for in a Bond film, it does something much better: dissect Bond.
While the previous issue didn’t hold Bond to the core of the narrative, I believe that was to the benefit to the series because it helps us as readers to understand the failings of Bond: connection. The plot itself is meta through it putting Bond into an art heist. In general, heists are really a revelation about the process of creating a piece of art. But what inverts that trope is that art itself is about people connecting to someone else through an expression of themselves into a medium. This is best imposed when you look at the craft of this comic book being on par with the likes of any other acclaimed action comic. Especially through the unbridled Roshan Kurichiyanil, whose color work really emphasizes great mood and tone with the way the lighting plays within close spaces.
Genuinely, this book excels in its ability to offer a subtle critique of our mythos of James Bond. It’s really when I witness the humanity of Bond that I care about the character in earnest. This book definitely succeeds in its ability to create a long-form artistic critique of a mythos.