James Bond: Hammerhead

James Bond is assigned to hunt down and eliminate Kraken, a radical anti-capitalist who has targeted Britain’s newly-upgraded nuclear arsenal. But all is not as it seems. Hidden forces are plotting to rebuild the faded glory of the once-mighty British Empire, and retake by force what was consigned to history. 007 is a cog in their deadly machine – but is he an agent of change, or an agent of the status quo? Loyalties will be broken, allegiances challenged. But in an ever-changing world, there’s one man you can rely on: Bond. James Bond.

Hammerhead collects the six-issue mini-series by Andy Diggle, illustrated by Luca Casalanguida.

I think this may well be the first graphic novel I’ve ever reviewed. I’ve read a few, but this is definitely the first Bond.

I’m a huge Bond fan, both the books and movies, so it was interesting to see how well it translated to this format. I have to say I was impressed – we’ve got a very authentic-feeling Bond story, plenty of action and nice one-liners thrown in, an implausibily-named villian and some evil shenanigans, with a smattering of globe trotting .

The action comes thick and fast from the start and there’s nary a pause for breath as Bond follows the trail of ubervillain Kraken and a cunning plan involving stolen nukes.

So far, so Bond. It’s glorious fun spotting where the story is going to go. The villian’s motivations are delightfully sinister, if a bit random – I’m not *entirely* sure that our Kraken really thought things through here, but it’s a minor niggle.

Will definitely be looking out for more of these in future. And I’ve realised that I’ve missed the Warren Ellis/Jason Masters Bond books, so I’ll be off to check those out.

James Bond (the reviews) will return…

Many thanks to Dynamite Entertainment and NetGalley for the review copy.

Q is for Quantum of Solace

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while – I’ve always known that my Q film would be Quantum of Solace and I want to explain why it’s better than you think.

Clocking in at a paltry 6.7 stars on IMDb, QoS arrived in 2008, two years after Daniel Craig burst onto the scene in Casino Royale and redefined Bond for a new era. Marc Forster picks up directing duties from Martin Campbell and the story picks up directly from Casino Royale. Quantum features the shortest running time (at 106 minutes) of the EON Films Bond movies. Interestingly, Casino Royale is the longest, a minute longer than the third of Daniel Craig’s movies, Skyfall.

We open with a wide shot, swooping across a lake to close in on Bond and his Aston Martin, Mr White in the boot, en-route from Lake Garda to Siena. The Aston roars as only an Aston can through the tunnel, bad guys in pursuit. The Aston (sadly) gets trashed, along with the bad guys. Bond takes White in to see M for a spot of interrogation and… things take a turn for the worse.

It’s an interesting film – Casino rebooted the Bond franchise in no uncertain terms, with nods to all the usual Bond tropes. Quantum is much leaner – Bond is on the hunt for the shadowy Quantum organisation who tried to assassinate M. The hunt leads from Italy to Austria where Bond interrupts the Quantum agents plotting during a spectacular performance of Tosca. Their fun spoiled, the Quantum gang make their escape, but not before a shootout through a restaurant – beautifully shot against the backdrop of Puccini’s music.

Bond has his passports and credit cards revoked when he refuses to come home. There’s a lovely little scene between him and a airline receptionist – one which Roger Moore’s hands would have been slightly louche and creepy, but Craig and the receptionist both know exactly what they’re doing and it’s perfectly judged.

Bond and Mathis head off to Bolivia to find out what Quantum are doing. There’s a fantastic scene on the plane where Mathis wakes to find Bond at the bar, drinking his signature martini – a Vesper.

[short interlude – Bond’s ‘Vesper’ martini consists of three measures of Gordon’s gin, one of vodka, a half a measure of Kina Lillet, shaken over ice, with a thin slice of lemon. I’ve had one – they are very *very* nice and very *very* strong. Bond at this point has had six. I’m amazed he was still upright. Interestingly, this is the first Bond you see even slightly drunk]

The story trundles along – There’s a plane chase (to go with the car chase, boat chase, and foot chase, to complete the set), we find out that Greene is trying to dam Bolivia’s supply of fresh water in order to create a monopoly. Back to La Paz and M and we find that Agent Fields has been murdered – drowned in crude oil by Greene (a neat but gruesome homage to Jill Masterson in Goldfinger). Bond escapes from M’s clutches and meets up with his old chum Felix Leiter, who tells him that Greene is meeting the Bolivian general at a hotel in the Atacama desert. Camille and Bond go out to the hotel (The set design of which is heavily reminiscent of Ken Adam’s work in some of the early Bond movies), Camille ending up killing the general to avenge her family, the hotel blows up (as all good Bond bad guy lairs do!) and Bond abandons Greene in the desert with nothing but a can of motor oil. It doesn’t end well.

Bond’s story finishes off in Kazan, Russia, where he finds Vesper Lynd’s former lover, Yusef, a member of Quantum who seduces women with valuable connections, as he had done with Vesper…

Bond finally has closure over the affair with Vesper and M reinstates him. Or tries to…

M: Bond, I need you back.
Bond: I never left.

Quantum certainly has its faults, and it’s definitely the weakest of the three Craig-era Bonds thus far. However, I’d argue that if you watch it directly after Casino Royale, it makes a *lot* more sense – in a way, Casino is in effect just the pre-title sequence to Quantum, admittedly a very long one! Quantum wraps up everything in Casino nicely (with the exception of Quantum, who could be the new SMERSH or SPECTRE in later movies), leaving the way open for Skyfall…

James Bond will return…

previously, on The A-Z Challenge
A is for Alien
B is for The Breakfast Club
C is for Catching Fire
D is for Die Hard
E is for The Empire Strikes Bank
F is for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
G is for Goldfinger (and GoldenEye)
H is for Howl’s Moving Castle
I is for Inception
J is for Jurassic Park
K is for Kung Fu Panda
L is for Labyrinth
M is for Moon
N is for National Treasure
O is for Oldboy
P is for Pitch Black

James Bond – Solo

Bond Solo

The title of William Boyd’s new Bond novel was announced today.

The new mission.
1969. A veteran secret agent. A single mission. A licence to kill.
James Bond returns.

The last couple of Bond novels have been a bit lukewarm for me, but the idea of Bond going on a solo mission strikes me as an interesting idea.

What do you think? Have you read any of the new (or indeed original) Bond stories?

http://www.jamesbondsolo.co.uk/