‘James Bond: Vargr’ Vol. 1 Review
Created by Ian Fleming; Written by Warren Ellis; Art by Jason Masters; Colors by Guy Major; Letters by Simon Bowland
James Bond: Vargr details everyone’s favorite 00 agent, James Bond, as he tackles the task of dissuading a drug importer from supplying a new and peculiar drug onto the streets of the United Kingdom. Bond’s first step is to meet an informant residing in Berlin, Germany, but of course things do not go as planned, and Bond finds himself stumbling upon a much more complex and threatening criminal endeavor.
The first volume of James Bond: Vargr has plenty of fantastic, action-filled panels. In fact, Vargr often dedicates several panels, even pages, strictly to action sequences. The result is impactful and certainly helps deliver the Bond-style action fans have come to expect and love, but it may be costing the comic over all.
I suggest this because while the illustrations are engaging, the story-line itself is somewhat lackluster. As I have said in a previous review of the first issue of Vargr, the story-line that Ellis creates for readers appears promising, but it is introduced rather late. The first nine pages are devoted to James’ 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 it is of no other importance to the heart of the conflict to come, and a similar developmental issue persists in the rest of the volume. The fact of the matter is, the promising story-line never seems to fully flesh out. In fact, it seems to lack much needed depth since the motivations of the main antagonist are explained in vague, superficial terms, as are the motivations of the antagonist’s associates.
There also seems to be the typical Bond tropes laced within the work, such as the villain of the story cornering Bond into a deadly trap. Oh, and let us not forget the evil monologue he will inevitably tell Bond, depicting his machinations in detail, before leaving the oo agent to die a slow death. After one of the minions of the antagonist mentions how Bond never seems to die, one would think the mastermind behind all the chaos would refrain from nonchalantly leaving Bond alive, but the bad guys have not seemed to learn much in Bond’s sixty-three years.
Now, that is not to say these tropes are not enjoyable. Some fans might argue it would not be Bond without these familiar scenarios, but that does not excuse the lack of innovation in the rest of the comic. The story-line could have certainly showcased some of those Bond tropes while also adding interesting layers to that familiar formula. I will say this, the comic does incorporate some interesting biotech that fits well with the Bond realm while also adding something refreshing to the spy thriller; however, I wish it would have been explored further, instead of being only touched upon as physical identification markers for one of the villainous associates.
James Bond: Vargr is not a bad comic, it simply was not what I had expected. It will still entertain readers, especially those who wish to see those classic Bond elements, but those who wished for something more, may end up slightly disappointed in the volume.