James Bond: Service
Artist: Antonio Fuso
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Jamie McKelvie
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
A review by Nico Sprezzatura.
It only makes sense for an iconic, cross-platform character like James Bond to have his own comic book. While Dynamite isn’t the first publisher to hold the 007 license (to kill?), they’ve certainly been taking it seriously, assigning top industry talent on its various James Bond comics since they began putting them out in late 2015.
To date there’ve been two ongoing titles (one written by Warren Ellis and the other by Benjamin Percy), a limited series written by Andy Diggle, a Felix Leiter spinoff written by James Robinson, and —announced just earlier today— a Moneypenny special written by Jody Houser. This week’s Kieron Gillen-penned one-shot, James Bond: Service, is the latest entry in Dynamite’s 007 franchise, and it’s a pretty decent encapsulation of what their James Bond is capable of.
If you haven’t read any of Dynamite’s prior James Bond comics, but would like to read a standalone 007 adventure, James Bond: Service makes for an appealing sampler of what they’re currently got cooking. The story told here —involving fraught relations between the United States and Britain— has a beginning, a middle, and an end, contained to this single (oversized) issue.
Over the course of forty-odd pages, the main conflict is resolved, and Bond returns from the experience relatively unchanged and not much wiser for it — classic 007. Given how the modern comic book industry seems to prefer decompressed storytelling, it’s impressive how deftly James Bond: Service burns through story, without feeling rushed or incomplete. Especially being familiar with Kieron Gillen’s knack and tendency for longform storytelling in his comics work, it’s a notable feat.
A lot ofJames Bond: Service’s narrative success comes down to artist Antonio Fuso and colorist Chris O’Halloran’s art, which does much of the heavy lifting that Gillen’s script requires. Though ostensibly set in the modern day (Bond is clearly making a call on a smartphone at one point in the issue), Fuso’s illustrations suggest a 1960s vibe that defined much of the character’s early aesthetic, while Chris O’Halloran’s flat coloring helps convey a dated, washed-out feel to complement it. You can’t immediately tell what time period this story is set in, which keeps the reader on their toes as it moves along.
(Maybe it’s just because I caught up on Superman this morning, so it’s still fresh in my mind, but Fuso and O’Halloran’s art reminds me a lot of Patrick Gleason & John Kalisz’s work on that title as well as Batman & Robin, which I deem to be a good thing — I really like their art. Fuso’s lines are less round and more jagged than Gleason’s, though.)
Simon Bowland’s lettering is subtle but clear and direct, which allows the art to breathe and speak for itself. Lettering comic books is often a thankless, unnoticed job —especially on action-heavy titles like this one— but Bowland translates Gillen’s script to page rather seamlessly.
Even if you haven’t been keeping up with Dynamite’s line of 007 comics, James Bond: Service is a fun spy story that perfectly distills the character down to his core, offering readers a sample of what awaits them should they choose to check out more.