James Bond: The Body #1
Writer: Aleš Kot
Artist: Luca Casalanguida
Colors: Valentina Pinto
Letterer: Thomas Napolitano
Review by Evan Maroun
When you think of James Bond, what comes to mind? Most people probably think about the crazy villains, the fancy gadgets, and the alluring women. In the first issue of Dynamite’s latest outing featuring the character, we don’t get any of those things. What we get is a fresh way of telling a Bond story, one that aims to take a look at the iconic character in a way that’s more than just skin-deep.
James Bond: The Body #1 opens with an effective splash page of our spy sitting in the MI6 doctor’s office, looking pretty roughed up. The Doctor strikes up a conversation, asking “what happened this time?” This is when Kot introduces something that I always thought was pretty lacking in the franchise: humor. In this case, it stems from the witty dialogue between the two characters. As the doctor asks more questions, Bond begins to recall the events that landed him in his current shape. We then snap to that situation with a clever panel swap similar to a match cut in film. This whole conversation works as a wonderful framing device, breaking things up in a way that feels organic to the story.
Speaking of framing, Casalanguida does cinematic art here, and it harmonizes beautifully with the writing. Reminiscent of the late, great Darwyn Cooke, while also having his own zealous flair, he captures a timeless look for a timeless character. Bond is drawn very statuesque, featuring close-up intimidating glances that could paralyze. As for the action, the thrilling blows come quick, drawn from a variety of angles, giving us a real sense of the environment.
As far as critiques about the issue, I don’t really have any that I wouldn’t consider nitpicking. This is a rare occurrence. James Bond: The Body #1 is so tightly written and executed that when I got to the last page, I felt something for Bond that I haven’t felt in a while: excitement. Issue #2, titled The Brain, can’t get here any quicker.
Buy it! Kot and Casalanguida feel completely at home taking on this icon. If I went to the theater to see a Bond film and I got something with this voice, told in this way, I would keep coming back. Choosing to name and theme each issue based on a different body part only breeds more intrigue in this unique take on narrative in this franchise. No need to be a die-hard fan of this suave spy to thoroughly enjoy this one.