The James Bond we know from the movies is not the James Bond from the novels. Bond, in Ian Fleming’s stories, is in many ways a broken man, a sociopath, a man with no family to miss him and no friends to mourn him, a man who loves the state so much he fights for it even when he knows it will throw him away. What’s stood out about Ales Kot’s James Bond: The Body, from Dynamite and with its fifth issue on stands today, is how Kot embraces Bond’s essential coldness and violence while granting him a human side we rarely see in 007. This issue, with Kot joined by Hayden Sherman on art, is a standout even by that yardstick.
The plot is stock, and almost unimportant. Bond is engaged in a frantic foot chase with a terrorist carrying a biological weapon, and the clock is ticking. In fact, the entire book takes place across three minutes. But that’s just a structure to hang Kot and Sherman exploring Bond’s thoughts about his own mortality on as he’s smashed, kicked, tased, and ultimately nearly drowned, thinking about a “good death” and the paths his life could have taken had he been a different man.
Sherman stands out here in particular for his skillful, evocative layout. Sherman’s pages twist and bend inside themselves, following both the action of the story and the contortions of Bond’s thoughts. Bond is almost bored, running down this terrorist, and his mind wanders, asking why he does what he does. It forces you to think about the interior life of the world’s most dangerous spy, and it makes for a Bond story you won’t soon forget.
Ether: The Copper Golems #1, Dark Horse
Matt Kindt and David Rubin continue their unusual mix of fantasy and science. Boone Dias is, by Earth standards, mentally ill. He’s a hobo who lives on the streets, stealing food, a self-proclaimed scientist raving about a faerie world where he’s a brilliant explorer and hero. One twist, though: Dias is telling the truth. He is, in fact, a brilliant explorer and hero protecting Earth from the faerie realm and vice versa. And hey, it’s only cost him his sanity, his family, his career, and any scrap of a life on the Earth side of things. Kindt and Rubin balance the bittersweet of Boone’s sacrifice, without losing track of the people he hurts with it, with the sheer bright joy of the faerie world, something Rubin brilliantly contrasts in his work. If you want a fantasy book that doesn’t give up emotional reality, this is a must-buy.
Death Of Love #4, Image Comics
Justin Jordan and Donal Delay’s blistering satire of entitled dudes and their approach to what they think is love has taken on a bit of an uncomfortable edge, in the light of recent events. Jordan’s take on Philo, a dude who expects women to have sex with them because they’re “nice,” has become more pointed over the course of this book, and it climaxes with Philo pulling the biggest dirtbag move yet. Keep in mind, last issue, he roofied his own friends, so that he manages to find an even lower place to go is almost impressive. This series remains a hilariously gory black comedy, thanks to Delay’s artistic skills with comedy, but as Philo’s awfulness sharpens, the funny is beginning to fall away and Jordan’s message is standing out in sharper relief.
Quicksilver: No Surrender #1, Marvel
Saladin Ahmed and Eric Nguyen pick up the snottiest Avenger as he saves the world… and promptly finds himself stranded on the edge of reality. Pietro has always been isolated, in part because he’s arrogant beyond all belief even if he can usually back it up. And, at first, he enjoys being ripped out of time, but soon enough he discovers that, for once, being his own worst enemy is a literal problem. Nguyen’s art cleverly evokes being at the edge of time as a frozen, colorless reality where Pietro pops out, and Ahmed’s story turns Pietro’s weaknesses against him. The world’s fastest man is going to have to push himself to grow up, fast, and it promises to be a lot of fun to watch.
Dead Hand #2, Image Comics
Kyle Higgins and Stephen Mooney’s book, already full of twists, has a bunch more in store in its second issue. In the first, we learned a sleepy little American town is anything but sleepy or, for that matter, American. In fact the sheriff is a former ’80s-style patriotic anti-hero. This issue teaches us a little more about Mountain View, a town that has a lingering connection to the Cold War. And there’s one very big problem it can’t solve. Higgins and Mooney turn what you expect from this book on its ear, and that makes it a thrilling ride.
The New Challengers #1, DC Comics: Scott Snyder, Aaron Gillespie, Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson offer a new, slightly darker twist on DC’s two-fisted adventure book.
Ninja-K #7, Valiant Comics: It’s a mark of how skilled writer Christos Gage and artist Juan Jose Ryp are that they’re able to swing between superspy heroics and emotional struggles and have it not only not feel silly, but almost realistic despite this book starring a witch, a ninja, and a giant robot.
Infidel #3, Image Comics: Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell continue their unnerving story of a Muslim woman trapped in a building full of ghosts who hate her for existing, in an unsubtle, but gripping, metaphor about the lurking nature of bigotry.
A Walk Through Hell #1, Aftershock Comics: Garth Ennis and Goran Sudžuka go for the restrained slow burn in this horror comic about two workaday FBI agents walking into what is very much the wrong warehouse.
Dodge City #3, BOOM! Studios: Josh Trujillo and Cara McGee continue their delightful sports book about an underdog dodgeball team, the Jazz Pandas, and the whacks they take to the face, literally and emotionally.
This Week’s Best Collections
The Unsound, BOOM! Studios ($20, Hardcover): Cullen Bunn and Jack T. Cole deliver an unnerving thriller that asks if sanity isn’t a matter of the consensus of those around you, rather than science.
Black Magick Vol. 2: Awakenings, Image Comics ($17, Softcover): Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott continue their noir about a witch/detective in modern Salem, which is worth picking up just for Scott’s rich penciling.
The Originals: The Essential Edition, Dark Horse ($30, Hardcover): Dave Gibbons’ original graphic novel, to date the only one he’s both written and drawn, remains a brilliant SF coming-of-age tale, now with a definitive behind-the-scenes look at how it came together.