Review: James Bond #7

I'm afraid this may be less a review than a mea culpa. James Bond is not a good comic. I really wanted it to be a good comic. I reviewed a bunch of issues (in retrospect more generously than they deserved), and held out hope that the problems I had with it were simply growing pains for a creative team finding their niche. But no, as the starting point to a new arc--for me a jumping off point--James Bond #7 highlights all the problems I had with the first series. Honestly, it's not even within the top five books Warren Ellis has written about espionage (Global Frequency, Secret Avengers, RED, Desolation Jones, and Injection, if you're curious).  So without further ado, I am going to note all that is wrong with James Bond by Ellis and Masters and then abandon it for greener pastures. The first problem is the art. Ellis scripts are dull to be sure, and I'll get to that, but Bond is, by nature cinematic, despite being a novel originally. There needs to be a sense of spectacle or at least visual interest that Masters seems entirely incapable of providing. The linework is thin and scratchy, and everything looks oddly sparse and generic, like high-grade clip art. The characters are stiff, awkward, and, most unfortunately, forgettable. As I noted in my initial review, Bond himself has no distinct visual charisma beyond a passing resemblance to Sterling Archer. I don't mean to be cruel, but there's simply very little to recommend the book visually.

JamesBond07-Cov-A-ReardonAs if in an unfortunate race to outdo the art, the script for James Bond #7 is dry as unbuttered toast with pages of boring bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo with nary a quip in sight. The issue opens up with the latest Bond villain (scarred and deformed as per usual) ominously talking about his plan which apparently involves international banking (I may have zoned out at this point). He then performs the most cliched villain trick in the book and kills his own henchman violently. Ellis then switches gears and gives two pages of unrelated, boring government wonks discussing gun control and covert policy. At this point, before good ol' JB has even shown his handsome mug, I started looking at other books I could review instead of this one, but alas, nothing much is coming out this week.

It will surprise no one to learn that Bond shows up shortly, quips a bit, rescues a girl, quips some more, and gets into a shootout.  The running joke about Bond not being allowed to have a gun becomes a plot point which would likely be clever if the previous six issues had not already wasted so much time talking about it. Frankly, I am not sure quite what Ellis is going for. I think perhaps there's a black-comedy aspect to Bond from the original Flemming novels that I am incapable of recognizing that would make the plot here seem more appropriate, but as it stands, it's still a really dull story that seems intent on focusing on unimportant details.

I could keep going about details in this issue that don't work such as the stiff action sequences, the pointlessly dull back-and-forth with the new love interest, and the discussion of LA traffic. It all adds up to a Bond issue that has low stakes and no sense of spectacle.

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James Bond #7 Writer:  Warren Ellis Artist: James Masters Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/22/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital