(cover artwork by Tula Lotay)
Regular readers of the blog and our Twitter will no doubt have noticed that I have really been enjoying Dynamite’s resurgent James Bond comics. Bond, of course, has a long history in comics form, as well as in prose and cinema (and radio, games and, well, pretty much any media). So it seems quite appropriate that we now have a very fine series of modern Bond comics tales from various creators that fit into an overarching design to create a contemporary setting and world for Bond to inhabit, that different writers and artists can set stories in and build with. So far I’ve found the Dynamite Bonds to be suitably modern while retaining the spirit of the originals (and often with many a happy nod to classic-era Bond).
And as part of that mix of classic with a modern sensibility, to the existing Bond series and the Felix Leiter spin-off tale we now get a one-shot Moneypenny issue from Houser and Edgar. Of course all Bond fans, we bow to the wonderful Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny. But this is a more contemporary Bond and the inspiration here is more from the Daniel Craig era, from the Moneypenny portrayed so well by Naomie Harris. A Moneypenny who may still flirt a little with Bond, but who is not going to sit behind the desk pining, this is a woman, a full agent, who can handle working in M’s office, but can equally handle a weapon and herself in the field, a powerful female character who could easily belong in a club with Diana Rigg’s Mrs Peel, Modesty Blaise or Brubaker and Epting’s Velvet (also recommended – reviewed here). There’s a telling moment when she draws her weapon and a civilian panics. “You can trust her,” M reassures the worried man. To a Bond fan that speaks volumes: this is an agent who is where she is because M totally trusts her loyalty and her ability.
This is, sadly, only a one-shot, so I don’t want to go into too much of the plot as it would be far too easy to spoil it for you at such a short, single-issue length. But I think you know I am commending this to Bond fans when I say I was left wishing this had been at least a three or four parter, more like the recent Felix Leiter spin-off. Yes, I want more, please! And for a single issue Houser and Edgar pack in an awful lot here. We don’t just have the main mission to follow, we get flashbacks to earlier career moves by Moneypenny and even childhood memories, contrasting with the here and now. This builds very nicely to give us a great flavour of who she is and why she is, why she does what she does, why M wants her by his side, why she’s so good at what she does.
Edgar’s artwork has a lovely, clean, contemporary look and feel, and he’s not afraid to let Moneypenny sometimes be the background – her duties often require her to be inconspicious, “background”, unless circumstances require her to burst into the foreground (as, of course, they do here). And there are some nice, subtle touches – sensing an ambush we see the windows and doors of nearby buildings in a glowing red, the obvious possible sniper points to their position (nice work by colourist Dearbhla Kelly). It wouldn’t look out of place in Thompson and Romero’s Kate Bishop Hawkeye series, and that’s a big compliment because that is one of my current favourite comics series (first issue reviewed here).
No, she’s not Bond, she’s not a double-oh – she doesn’t need to be, we already have 007. But she is a powerful, confident agent in her own right, with her own important duties to peform, and Houser and Edgar build that side of her character extremely well, while still delivering a fast-paced main narrative. All this in just a single, one-shot comic. Imagine what they could do if they were allowed to do more… (yes, Dynamite, that is a hint!)
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