‘James Bond: Vargr’ #1 Comic Review
James Bond: Vargr, written by Warren Ellis, begins in the dark streets of Helsinki, Finland. A man can be seen running through the city to a more remote location within a construction site. He seems to think he is being followed, and it’s not long before he pulls out a gun and fires several shots.
At first, it looks as if he’s shooting at nothing; however, it soon becomes evident that someone is indeed with him as a cinder block comes hurtling toward the man’s back. The man tries to flee, but he quickly finds himself battling it out with his attacker.
The faceless attacker easily gains the upper hand in the fight, and the man falls onto the ground at the feet of his aggressor, who finally steps out of the shadows. The assassin reveals himself to be a secret service agent both novel and movie-buffs have loved for generations: James Bond.
Bond’s presence is bewildering to the man at the agent’s feet, but Bond quickly clears up the confusion for his victim and the audience. “You murdered a colleague of mine, two weeks ago. In cold blood. For no reason other than your love of killing. You killed 008. And I’m 007.”
007 then heads back to MI6 to speak to M about his next assignment. It is while the two are discussing his most recent assassination mission that M informs James he will be taking over 008’s caseload while a replacement agent is found and instated.
The task at hand is to “dissuade” a drug importer from supplying a new and peculiar drug onto the streets of the United Kingdom. The first step for Bond is to meet an informant residing in Berlin, Germany, but of course there are a couple of complications thrown into the mix for our secret agent.
For one, the Hard Rule, which says MI6 officers cannot carry arms inside the United Kingdom, has been extended to include 00 agents as well. The extension of this law to the 00 agents ultimately means Bond and his counterparts will be at risk as they travel through the country.
To make matters worse, unbeknownst to Bond, the risk of harm is practically guaranteed as he travels to Berlin. Readers are quickly introduced to a man called Mr. Masters at the issue’s close, and like Bond, he also has an assignment: kill 007.
With this being the first Bond comic in twenty years, Ellis wastes no time in showing readers some of their favorite iconic characters within this first issue. Of course there is Bond, but readers can also meet characters like Moneypenny, M, and the Quatermaster.
The typical Bond traits are also played up in this first issue, making the 007 agent one in which readers are familiar. There is that lovable arrogance, the preoccupation with his own looks, and love of firearms and women–with the latter passion being introduced in a way that is almost eye-roll worthy.
The storyline that Ellis creates for readers appears promising, but it is introduced rather late. The first nine pages are devoted to Jame’s assassination mission, which is only a small piece of the overall story. The kill is what prompts James to work the case involving the drug importer, but is of no other importance to the heart of the conflict to come.
The result of this is simply fewer pages dedicated to the dangers Bond will face on his new mission. It is understandable from a storytelling perspective but also somewhat frustrating. Readers are given a small taste of the excitement to come on the very last page of the comic and several questions are raised.
How is Mr. Masters connected to the drug importer mission? Perhaps there is no connection at all, but, if so, what is Mr. Masters’ motivation for killing Bond? The questions are titillating but unfortunately will not have any resolution until this December when the second issue will be released.
In the mean time, enjoy this first issue, which debuts November 4th –only days before the fourth James Bond film, Spectre.
While Ellis does not dig into the meat of the main storyline, the setup is enjoyable and beautifully illustrated by Jason Masters. The kill sequence truly sets the tone for the comic and serves as a reminder as to why James Bond has been so popular for over sixty years: killer action and smooth style.
While 007 certainly has style when it comes to his work, he is not the only one; Ellis and Masters have plenty as the creators of the series. Knowing how greatly executed the latest Bond movies have been, I have no doubts the comics will rise to that level of quality as well, making the action in Berlin certainly well worth the wait.