Ian Fleming’s James Bond, 007: Hammerhead #1
Andy Diggle, Luca Casalanguida, Chris Blythe
(variant cover art by Robert Hack)
I’ve really been enjoying the new James Bond comic series by Warren Ellis which Dynamite brought us, which I thought borrowed from the flavour of Fleming’s novels more than the films, but which placed the superspy firmly in our own modern-day world at the same time (well, as much as a character like Bond can be). This week saw a second Bond series from Dynamite, and of course the question is will it work as well as the first Ellis series? Fortunately they had Andy Diggle writing it, so I was fairly confident it would be an interesting read – and so it proved.
This is a good, fast-paced first issue, somehow managing to pack in that globe-trotting Bond is famous for with no less than three different countries (and indeed continents, now I think of it) in those 32-pages, without feeling rushed in any way. Diggle and artist Casalanguida open in Caracas, Venenzuela, dropping Bond literally into the action as he attempts to stealth his way into the hideout of an international hacker in a ruined high-rise “vertical slum” via parafoil. This is Bond though, so unsurprisingly the stealthy approach to quietly capture the target and retrieve his data ends up in a shoot out and explosion. Hey, it’s Bond, this is pretty much what we both expect and want!
Back to London empty-handed though, and M is less than pleased – Bond is on the carpet and no mistake, but in his defence he makes clear to M that he is sure their main target they thought the hacker would lead them to was already aware he was there and tipped off the hacker and his goons, leaving Bond with no option but to shoot it out. M is not impressed – for all that went into this mission all his top agent has brought back is that the main target who employed the hacker calls himself Kraken, a radical anti-capitalist. And M is worried – not to mention under pressure from higher up the establishment – because this mysterious Kraken has his hacker targeting Hunt, the UK’s largest arms manufacturer. And also – still confidential information – the company who will be replacing Trident. It could be coincidental timing, but they cannot ignore Kraken having Hun hacked just as they will be responsible for building the next generation of the Royal Navy’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines (they also supply some of Q Branch’s gadgets too).
Not that Bond is to investigate that line of enquiry – in the doghouse over the failure of his mission to retrieve the hacker, M assigns him “babysitting” duties, sending him to the international arms fair in Dubai to watch over the top executives of the Hunt corporation while they meet and greet any number of sultans and princes, do backroom deals and sell them millions of pounds worth of weaponry (and naturally not be too concerned who they use it against or the human rights record of those regimes – after all, they are “allies”, so that’s okay). Somehow I get the impression this babysitting gig is going to lead Bond abck into the wider picture he was just pushed out of…
This was a really solid opening issue, well-paced and keeping everything moving along at a good clip, but without every feeling that it was rushing. Diggle’s choice of the arms trade is a clever one – it’s a good area to have Bond involved in after all, superspy stopping advanced weaponry getting into the hands of nefarious, shadowy villians. Except this isn’t the Cold War anymore and, as is sadly the case in the real world, the arms merchants here make huge sums from selling weapons to some very unpleasant regimes and they don’t really care, and neither do the politicians (who are all on first name terms with the the directors of the company, of course).
In the real world this has been a constant moral problem (no doubt part of Diggle’s inspiration here) – this is a huge international earner for UK industry and employs highly-skilled specialists. And if we didn’t sell them to those clients, Russia, France or America would, many argue (the old “I know this is kinda wrong but everyone else is doing it” excuse). But as Bond points out here, some of those weapons Hunt sells will end up being used by those regimes against their own people, to maintains their power-hold. As with the actual world it is clear that this isn’t going to be a straightforward case of the hero battling the nasty villain to stop them wrecking the world, this is going to be a deeper, more convoluted moral maze, with 007 potentially protecting a company that makes large profits from selling weapons to repressive regimes (but the right kind of repressive regime, ie friendly to our national interests). And that should be pretty damned engrossing from the dramatic point of view, bring on the next issue…
Don’t live near one of our branches? You can order you comics mail order from our comics subscription site!