Review - James Bond Origin #1 (@DynamiteComics)

"Sir, I thought I saw Bond!"

Origin stories are tricky because they reduce some of the mysticism around a character. There's something about gaps in a character's past that makes them that much more appealing and James Bond is no exception. Dynamite Comics attempts to overcome that though in James Bond Origin #1. The issue is written by Jeff Parker, illustrated by Bob Q and lettered by Simon Bowland.

MARCH, 1941: Seventeen-year-old James Bond is a restless student in Scotland, an orphan, eager to strike out and make his mark on the world. But a visit by an old family friend coincides with THE CLYDEBANK BLITZ, the most devastating German attack on Scotland during the War. James will fight through hell to survive, coming out the other side determined to make a difference. He'll find his calling in a new British government service, secret in nature...

James Bond is one of those characters defined by a few key personality traits and Parker does what he can to ensure those traits are on display in James Bond Origin #1. While the James here isn't quite as jetsetting and cavalier as later versions of the character, Parker still manages to infuse his James with a certain amount of swagger. That character development is wrapped in a burgeoning conspiracy set against the backdrop of World War II, allowing Parker to provide a textbook "case" for Bond to investigate while also showing him at his rawest. Parker does an admirable job in crafting both the narrative and the personality around the lead character, but that character is essentially a microcosm of the character as a whole. There have been numerous portrayals of Bond set in different eras and while Lemire's is definitely a solid origin story, it sort of dilutes the aura of the character by focusing specifically on one incarnation of him in the WWII setting.

The edgier art style by Bob Q seems to modernize the story quite a bit. Bob Q draws Bond with an attention to a strong physique that cuts a confident figure, reinforcing with the reader that this is definitely Bond. Much of the issue takes place at a university, yet Bob Qu still manages to make things feel a bit more exciting through the use of panel layouts that feel buttoned-up but capable of unraveling at any moment (much like Bond for that matter). There are also two two-page spreads near the beginning that are extremely chaotic as Bob Q emphasizes one of the ways that war can completely upend normalcy in a heartbeat. The colors reflect the settings well, from the blues and greens of the college setting to the orange hues of fires roaring after a bombing.

James Bond Origin #1 seeks to shed light on the mysteries of one of literature's most beloved (and mysterious) characters. James Bond is an icon of charm, looks and intelligence, all of which are on display in the first issue of his origin story. Parker's script is fast-moving and gives Bond room to explore an incident that has larger implications. Bob Q's artwork is a slick take on the character and setting. James Bond Origin #1 has a lot of what makes the character so interesting and is a great first issue to check out.

James Bond Origin #1 is available now.