Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Comic Review - James Bond 007: VARGR

I got my idea for ranking the Bond films for the last blog post because I recently finished the comic by Dynamite Comics entitled James Bond 007: VARGR. Me, being a James Bond superfan, got the hardcover trade at the end of this storyline to get more of one of my favorite characters of all-time. I was not disappointed.

Before I delved into the Bond comics, in other media besides the Bond films released throughout my lifetime, I have also read quite a few books about the British spy. I haven't read any of Ian Fleming's original stories and novels yet, but I read all of Raymond Benson's James Bond books throughout high school and absolutely enjoyed them. Benson's works came out before Daniel Craig began his run as Bond, so it felt like Pierce Brosnan was the character in the novels. I was especially fond of A High Time to Kill as it was the first piece of Bond fiction I read.

I want to start out by saying that the art in this book was great. I looked fitting for a James Bond work, and Bond himself looked as one would picture him. It's funny because he also looks a little bit like the character Archer from the popular FX television series. I've watched that show a bunch and I always take him for a James Bond spoof (which he is) and like that this comic makes him look a lot like Archer.

The story starts out showing that some illicit drugs have started making their way into London and Bond is tasked with tracking down the origin of these drug ring. It takes him to Berlin where he is immediately assaulted by a woman named Dharma Reach who claimed to be a CIA agent, but obviously was not. She escapes and Bond ends up going to meet his informant Dr. Slaven Kurjak, a Serbian scientist who lost some limbs in the Kosovo War. He developed some prosthetics to which he has used on himself and is selling across the world.

Kurjak gives Bond info about a laboratory where Lebanese drug dealers have set up shop, so Bond goes there and eliminates the problem only to find out that these weren't the drug dealers he was looking for.

** Spoilers ahead for anyone not wanting to know more **

While Bond is away at this laboratory, it is revealed that Kurjak is in charge of Dharma Reach and is essentially behind this drug ring. He sends another henchman, Bryan Masters to kill Bond while at the MI6 station in Berlin, only to have him not be there. Masters kills all the other MI6 staff before Bond shows up.

Masters tells Bond he is a CIA agent (again, can easily see why Bond doesn't trust anyone who isn't Felix Leiter in the CIA) and tells him he will take him to a government safehouse. This turns out to be the Kurjak's hideout and they see all of the doctor's staff dead from being injected with the drug which they call Condition: VARGR. A fight ensues with Masters and Bond to which Bond kills him by injecting the drug into his neck.

Bond however, gets sealed in a room by Kurjak and the doctor explains how the drug came to be. It was supposedly a cure for cancer but it obviously turned out way wrong. He activates the decontamination process on the chamber Bond is in, but nevertheless, Bond escapes and heads back to London as Kurjak was nowhere to be found.

While in London, he teams with MI5 to find the location of Kurjak and ends up encountering Dharma Reach as she attacks him and he disposes of her in a hilarious way. Tanner and Bond trace Reach's prosthetics to a decommissioned Norwegian battleship called the HNoMS Vargr, which turns out to be the place where the drug is manufactured. Bond infiltrates the ship, ends up sinking it and afterward, while getting to shore finds Kurjak there where he kills him.

I really liked the storyline as obvious as some parts were as they had a familiar Bond formula to them. I call a Bond formula something where Bond encounters some henchmen, meets the villain (sometimes knowingly, sometimes unknowingly), dispatches some bad guys midway, then uncovers the meat of the plot leading to the big showdown. This formula has been used in many, if not all of the Bond films. I'm glad this holds true to the comics, as it continues, to me, the classic character of James Bond.

As always, there were times Bond had his classic wit and it doesn't disappoint. It was interesting to see a Bond story without a so-called "Bond Girl" in it. I'm interested to see where the next part of the story goes, as Dynamite has started the next storyline entitled James Bond 007: Eidolon. I have been reading that one, and will also pick up their Bond story called Hammerhead debuting later this year. I will also most likely give my thoughts on those as well. But as of right now, I'm very happy with this depiction of James Bond and know many Bond fans would like it as well.

Thanks for reading,

Mike G.

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