James Bond: Origin Vol. 2 HC
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
Cover: Dan Panosian
No gadgets. No martinis. And no larger-than-life villains. Just the adventures of a teenage James Bond during World War II. And what a fascinating read it is.
Dynamite Entertainment‘s James Bond: Origin Vol. 2 hardcover collects James Bond: Origin #7–12. The James Bond: Origin series fleshes out Bond’s life before the first novel of Ian Fleming introduced him to the world.
It takes place during World War II, when he was just starting his career as a spy. I’m not really a Bond fan, but I really enjoyed this collection. Spoilers ahead.
From Russia without love
It is late 1940 and teenage Bond has lied about his age to join the Royal Navy. Little does his captain know that he is also part of a secret new government service.
We witness a rendezvous between a Russian freighter and a Norwegian supply ship in the Barents Sea. The Russians are turning over gold bullion to their allies in exchange for their cargo.
Unfortunately for the Norwegian Captain Hyugen and his crew, the Russians led by Captain Vasily have other plans.
This thrilling story arc features the tension between Royal Navy Lieutenant Bond and his unsuspecting captain, Commander Frees. When the British discover the sunken Norwegian ship with its gold cargo, they think the Germans must have attacked them — either a U-boat or destroyer.
Bond, however, is suspicious, but Commander Frees just brushes off his questions. They then encounter the Russian freighter whose crew claims they were hit by a German Junker. Commander Frees concludes another light bomber like the one that attacked the Russians was responsible for sinking the Norwegian supply ship. But Bond suspects foul play.
When Bond acts upon his suspicions, we get to see how resourceful he is even without the gadgets that would become his trademark. The stories here are as grounded as they come while still offering spy thriller action. We get to enjoy hand-to-hand combat and shootouts, a Russian ruse, and Bond trying to escape from Russia.
Not the Casino Royale
Meanwhile, the next story arc is a poignant one that takes place while Bond is on sick leave due to the injuries he suffered in his Russian adventure. This involves the death of a man that Bond looks up to and considers his mentor.
Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Ronald Weldon is a friend of Bond’s dead parents. Bond was visiting him to tell him about his year in the secret service, only to be shocked to discover Commander Weldon was killed in Gibraltar.
F is waiting for the crestfallen Bond. He tells him that he made sure Weldon knew everything that Bond was reporting to F’s department. And that Weldon was very proud of him.
Unfortunately, F reveals to Bond that Weldon may have been involved in unsavory activities. And that’s how Bond becomes entangled in The Bohemian. And learns how to become a better card player in the process.
For this adventure, however, Bond swallows his pride and asks for help from his frenemy Eddie. Eddie was with Bond during the training for the secret operative program. He washed out after he tried to shoot Bond. Eddie had suspected him to be an Axis spy.
This story arc is even better than the Russian one, and I won’t spoil it. Just read it and enjoy.
Jeff Parker’s writing is absolutely top-notch, and Ibrahim Moustafa’s art is just so amazing that it makes these period pieces soar.
No doubt about it. As a comic book fan, I will be reading more James Bond comics from here on — and maybe even read the novels and watch more of his movies.
(Editor’s note: This review is based on an advanced review copy provided by Diamond Entertainment. James Bond: Origin Vol. 2 HC shipped on July 1.)