by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Hey, is James Bond actually a good spy? I mean, sure, he always manages to escape from the villain’s compound, but he also (almost) always fails to evade capture in the first place. Indeed, I might argue that his very capacity to think quick and get out of tight jams is a bit of a crutch that he uses to make up for his utter inability to preplan and avoid those tight jams altogether. Maybe international espionage is just that hard to plan for — it never seems to go the way M says it will — but it’s hard not to feel that Bond’s reliance on improvisation might also leave his preparation skills underdeveloped. He knows he can figure it out in the moment, so why bother with anything else? It’s an attitude that makes the assignment in James Bond: The Body 1 kind of perfect — MI6 doesn’t have much intel beyond that an assassination attempt will happen, so who better to send in?
The clever conceit of the issue is that the inelegance of this approach takes its tole on Bond. We’re focused on his body here, as an MI6 doctor patches up his wounds, but protocol demands that he also complete a mental health exam (in next month’s issue). And that may be particularly pertinent here, as the assassin turns out to be a pawn — a citizen, forced by some crime ring to attempt this murder or they would kill his family.
It’s the kind of thing MI6 might have caught if they had more time to do recon, but it’s also the kind of thing Bond might have avoided if he had come up with a plan beyond “fight (and likely kill) the assassin.” He had, after all, noted just how obvious the assassin’s body language was. This wasn’t some trained killer, just a nervous nobody willing to do anything to protect his family.
But I suspect that this whole plan was hatched to exploit Bond’s weakness. MI6 got the info late because the men behind this plan wanted them to. That is, they wanted to send Bond on a collision course with this guy, knowing that he would kill him and then regret it. Will it break him, or just drive him to reevaluate his approach? It’s exactly the kind of Bond story I’d expect Ales Kot to write, using Bond’s most brutish qualities against him, picking at the emotional obliviousness that underpins the character. And artist Luca Casalanguida supports him every step of the way, delivering a Bond that has both the raw masculinity of Connery or Craig and the debonair grace of Moore or Brosnan. The effect is a kind of everyBond — perhaps a hint at the everyman moral I suspect Kot is tilting at — emphasizing that this series is an indictment of the whole concept of Bond, not something specific to this story. The weaknesses of this Bond are the weaknesses of all Bonds, and they may well be the weaknesses of masculinity in general. Bond has long been a totem of masculinity, but rarely to challenge it. It’s a daring approach, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?