First appearing in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale, James Bond has gone on to become a pop culture icon, starring countless novels (both from Fleming himself, and a number of authors after his death), live action films, tv specials, video games and comic books. Each adaptation has varied in it’s interpretation of the character, altering it to suit audiences of the time as well as those portraying the character, but the recent Dynamite comic series nails absolutely everything about the fabled super spy, showing Bond just as he should be, and proving the perfect medium for more Bond adventures.
The first volume of Dynamite’s ongoing James Bond series, titled ‘Vargr’, came in 2015 and shows Bond taking over the cases of another 00 agent after their death. Written by Warren Ellis, with art from Jason Masters, the first book of the series perfectly captures everything Bond is. The stylisation is just enough to have a relatively indistinct time period (with a few modern pieces of tech here and there), Bond looks and acts exactly perfectly (smoking and all), and everything is stripped back to Bond, his cars, his gun, and his mission – exactly how it should be.
This winning streak continues into the series’ second volume, ‘Eidolon’, where Bond takes on a remnant SPECTRE cell, with both Ellis and Masters returning (and additional art by Dominic Reardon). Whilst in America at the start of the book Bond of course meets up with his old ally Felix Leiter, who has since had his own Dynamite comic books series in 2017.
After two years as an ongoing series, the formula then switched to more mission based volumes (essentially ending the original run), with ‘Hammerhead’ (2016), Bond uncovers a plot to steal British Nuclear Warheads, ‘Black Box’ (2017), puts Bond against an assassin hunting assassin, and ‘Kill Chain’ (2017) sees Bond go up against the CIA and just about every other spy agency to stop an information war. 2017 also saw one off issues ‘Service’ and ‘Solstice’.
2018 see’s the most Bond comics yet with an adaptation of Casino Royale, the ‘Case Files’ standalone that tells four individual stories following the likes of Money Penny, M, and 007 himself. ‘The Body’ shows Bond retell the events of his recent mission to a medical examiner, and the upcoming ‘James Bond Origin’, gives a definitive backstory to Bond, detailing his early adventures during the Second World War (at the age of seventeen).
Even as a comic book fan (and someone who’d never read any of the old Bond comics), I’d never really of thought that Bond would translate so well into the comic book medium, or that it would be any better than ways we’ve seen him in the countless films and video games. But after reading only a few pages of almost any of the recent Dynamite Bond comics it’s hard to escape how of an perfect adaptation this latest run is.
This Bond manages to feel like a brilliant combination of every actor that’s taken on the role, injecting just enough of the books and past comics to make it feel wholly classic and nostalgic, all whilst still feeling fresh and unique at the same time.
What adds that extra level of depth to this latest incarnation of Bond is how, whilst staying slick, stylish and fresh, it manages to provide a detailed look at the inner Bond, and how he tows the line between a ruthless ‘biological weapon’ and a compassionate patriot out to save the world.
Taking lead from Master’s original run, the James Bond comics have gone on to become one of the most stylish comics out there, combing some fantastic shots of exotic locations (and then London), perfectly spy-thriller action shots, and some brutal fight scenes all of which come together in a way that really adds an extra level of immersion to what would of already been an impressive Bond story. Everything from the composition, pacing, halftones, and in particular the colours, oozes style, class, and most importantly Bond.
All in all James Bond is a corner stone of pop culture, and as long as we can continue to get refreshing, pitch perfect adaptations like the current Dynamite comics run, he won’t be going away anytime soon.