The essence of James Bond in recent years has retraced to the idea of the reluctant hero who does what he does because that is what he is good at. The recent Bond films have focus on balancing that with large set pieces that serve a bigger story whether it be the condemnation of M or a love lost. In “James Bond: The Body” [Ales Kot/Dynamite/152pgs], the story told in 5 separate progressions shows the physical toll and the quiet moments that could bring such a man back from the brink. The beginning is simply a tale of what caused 3 broken ribs and the simply fact that painkillers simply deaden the pain. In order to understand it, Bond lives by it. Another story which motivates the ideal that Bond is fallible rests when he is doing an interrogation of a female operative/scientist who may or may not be assisting a chemical attack in Britain. The idea becomes “what is good?” He can try to torture her to find out what he wants but instead takes a more civil approach with a truth serum personification but ultimately resorts to water boarding. The result tests his resolve and in many ways strains the idea of what he is trying to accomplish. The continuing story then goes by a basis of sociology as Bond poses as an arms dealer to infiltrate a business circle of Neo Nazis. A brawl ensues. A similar context occurs in another story where a local policeman seems too trigger happy with a taser before Bond can properly identify himself when he is beating someone else up. The true integral intention of “The Body” reflects in two smaller stories when Bond is saved and defends a cottage in a forest against an adversary with a female host who is both strong and suicidal. It is the most peace he has found in a while and that speaks to something bigger in terms of his psychological make up. This also reflects in the final story with his hanging out in a pub with longtime American co-operative Felix Leiter over a beer as a mark is taken out quietly via poison in the back bathroom as they drink a pint. It is these quiet moments that help give this iteration of a well known character a little more breath. In one image in the graphic novel, Bond dives with a bomb that needs to exploded underwater in the Thames and as he disappears, the muddy element of his soul becomes clear.
By Tim Wassberg
The tendency of a character like The Shadow can sometimes be wallowed in an old notion of past time values. Such can be said of the permutation of “Midnight In Moscow”. While pulling the stalwart rebel out of retirement at the bequest of his better half does speak to the notion of going in for the right reason, the general progression involving MI6 and a short of other agencies,, not to mention Stalin and his cronies, doesn’t end up balancing out to a lot of intrigue. The only character of any true weight is a would be flusie who knows exactly what she is doing between blackmail and knowing what the end game is. It is just a matter of staying ahead of the competition which in this case is The Shadow. Ultimately this is a foolhardy game despite her mischievousness. The ultimate reveal of the secret is interesting in a 1950s setting but not for the savvy audiences today. The colors of the panels are saturated and rich while also bending to the element of noir style but beyond that not as compelling as one would hope. The sides swiping of the Russian dialogue gives the style a punch but becomes more distracting than anything. “The Shadow: Midnight In Moscow” knows it strengths but comes out as merely adequate.
By Tim Wassberg