Testing 007’s Limits in James Bond: The Body 1

by Drew Baumgartner

James Bond The Body 1

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.

Letter

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?

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4 comments on “Testing 007’s Limits in James Bond: The Body 1

  1. You know, Drew, I actually didn’t see much of Bond’s signature grace in this issue. Maybe it was the lighting or his build, but I’m getting more of a “Punisher MAX” vibe thus far. I’m really interested in seeing how issue 2 turns out.

    Also, am I the only one who noticed that Casalanguida drew the cast of “Party Down” as the other servers at the event??

    • Holy cow, I completely missed those Party Down cameos. In my defense, I only see a portion of the cast — Megan Mullally, Ken Marino, and Kristen Bell. I like to think I would have caught it if one of the caterers had looked like Martin Starr.

  2. I read one or two earlier James Bond comics – I think it was Warren Ellis. I didn’t get into it at all. This one, however, got me.I don’t have a lot to say except I thought it portrayed Bond in his 21st century glory – a physical brute of a man that didn’t mind not knowing things because that would make the fight more difficult to justify. The cover shows that, I believe. Bond – half tuxedo / half anatomical specimen.

    It was a simple color palette and I think that was a good choice. Solid colors, not a lot of shading. While there was some uncertainty in who Bond was looking for, there wasn’t uncertainty in the art or colors. Things were clear – until the fight, where the blacks and blues of the suits and the background bled into each other, muddying the scene.

    This was a cool comic. I’m excited for the next one.

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