Friday, October 14, 2016

Review - James Bond Hammerhead #1 (@DynamiteComics)


"Inefficient 007, inadequate."

James Bond is a legend in both literature and film. The concept of the character is pretty ingenious, glamorizing the otherwise mundane life affiliated with intelligence gathering. Dynamite Comics thinks the character is very complex and offers a new version of him in James Bond Hammerhead #1. The issue is written by Andy Diggle, illustrated by Luca Casalanguida, colored by Chris Blythe and lettered by Simon Bowland.

Bond is assigned to hunt down and eliminate Kraken, a radical anti-capitalist who has targeted Britain's newly-upgraded nuclear arsenal. But all is not as it seems. Hidden forces are plotting to rebuild the faded glory of the once-mighty British Empire, and retake by force what was consigned to history. 007 is a cog in their deadly machine - but is he an agent of change, or an agent of the status quo? Loyalties will be broken, allegiances challenged. But in an ever-changing world, there's one man you can rely on: Bond. James Bond.

Diggle's take on James Bond is much more in line with the more recent look at the character, modernizing him to do his thing in on a more modern battlefield. In James Bond Hammerhead #1, Diggle infuses 007 with Sam Fisher sensibilities, allowing him to be tactically superb in a way that's generally more befitting of a Tom Clancy character. The surprising thing is that Diggle's approach works in many ways as it allows him to eschew the more stodgy, "spy" influences for a more free-flowing and action-packed narrative. Bond has always been a character who thrives on independence and bucking chain of command and Diggle's approach embraces that as a means of thrusting Bond into the thick of another international adventure that requires Bond's unique talents. Diggle leans into this concept effectively and offers a very clean opening issue that establishes the stakes and sets the stage for the series going forward.

The artwork by Casalanguida is very sharp and concise. Casalanguida renders Bond with very strong and defined features--primarily in the face--that bolster Bond's masculine image and clean-cut presentation. The stylistic approach does detach the book from reality somewhat as Casalanguida essentially poses all the characters in ways that establishes the shot. The panel layouts further the concept of Bond as a clean-cut agent and there are few instances where Casalanguida strays from the standard temple, but in one case where he does it's an interesting use of rendering action on screens as separate panels for emphasis. Blythe relies largely on a darker color palette that captures the general atmosphere of a dour agent such as 007.

James Bond Hammerhead #1 is an exciting first issue that taps into the more merciless side of James Bond. The premise behind the issue is familiar to fans of James Bond, but that doesn't mean the story will be any less entertaining. Bond is on another mission and there will be some familiar parts to it for sure, but Diggle characterizes him an almost reckless abandon that's more in line with a mercenary. Casalanguida's artwork is very slick and modern, befitting the updated take on the character. James Bond Hammerhead #1 is a tough and sometimes brutal look at James Bond and the world he chooses to inhabit--a promising start to a brand new series.

James Bond Hammerhead #1 is in stores now.

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