James Bond 007 and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Dynamite Entertainment and Ian Fleming Publications
Is the world still crumbling around us? It sure as heck is, so after a few days (weeks, months, who can even tell anymore?) of watching Simpsons reruns until my eyes bled, it was time for me to get back in the saddle and use some of this time to read even more James Bond comics! With the mastermind of ORU revealed to be the one and only Aurc Goldfinger and agent John Lee being captured by him, it looks like this story will be going down some very familiar paths! Will Bond be able to bring an end to ORU and Goldfinger without having to take out his friend Agent Lee, or is this a challenge even the great James Bond is not ready to face? Let’s find out!!
Issue 7 (May 2019)
The issue begins on a rather familiar scene of Bond entering a Casino and flirting with the ladies while a bad guy is doing something under the watchful eyes of stern-faced henchmen. This however is no ordinary day in the life of Bond as the bad guy in question is Auric Goldfinger and the henchmen are his good buddy John Lee and the captured Agent Kim; both under control by Goldfinger’s nicotine patch looking mind control devices that you’d think the spy agencies would have picked up on as a mark of being an ORU agent! You’re telling me the FBI can figure out what the heck Juggalos are and classify them as a street gang, but it took James Bond for to figure out what’s up with the giant glowing neck thingies!? In any case, his orders are to follow Goldfinger and find out what he can about his next target. Being the leader of the terrorist organization ORU, he’s certainly very dangerous and can’t be up to any good even if he needed to capture and brainwash South Korea’s two top agents. Now the question is, how much of this is going to be a straight retelling of the movie Goldfinger, and how much is it going to be its own thing? Well, they did go through all the trouble of getting the new Oddjob to be his henchmen which indicates the former, and they have a nice moment in this scene that plays out similarly to the opening of Goldfinger. Goldfinger is cheating at a game using some sort of communication device and Bond manages to interrupt it to cost him the game; though sadly there’s no giant telescope involved.
It’s not quite the same though, and I guess that’s the best way of describing this issue; shades of the source material but doing its own thing with the setup. Bond doesn’t reveal himself to Goldfinger in this scene (and thus we are spared someone being dipped in gold, at least for the time being), and instead he goes up to him after the game pretending to be some spoiled heir to a fortune he didn’t deserve; whiling his way on card games and women until his inheritance runs out. In an attempt to extend his carefree lifestyle, he offers the famed Goldfinger (known the world over for his gold refineries) all the pieces of scrap gold that are in his dusty old house, and wants it all done under the table so he doesn’t have to give THE POOR any of his un-earned taxes… or something. Goldfinger is intrigued and they agree to meet the next morning, but Bond sees someone get huffy at the most dangerous man on Earth and decides that there might be an interesting story there. Admittedly this part of the issue could use with a bit more explanation as it’s kind of unclear what his beef is with Goldfinger (apparently he was supposed to win a lot of money against Goldfinger before Bond joined the game?) and what role he plays in all of this. Still, Bond manages to get a bit of useful information out the guy which is that Goldfinger has an interest in a diamond mine of some kind, and he brings this information back to MI6 for review.
At least now Bond has an inkling of what he’s looking for when he visits Goldfinger the next day, but the presence of a brainwashed John Lee is certainly making things more complicated as Bond TALKS like he’s ready to kill him if necessary, but there’s clearly something holding him back from truly believing it. While Goldfinger is counting the duffle bag of golden trinkets that Bond has brought over, he feigns a need to use the can and starts wandering the halls of this facility looking for more details about this diamond mine. He finds a room full of weapons that I GUESS could have something to do with Goldfinger’s latest scheme, but he doesn’t have long to contemplate it as John Lee jumps him from behind and they get into a fight. Well I say he jumps him, but it’s more of a friendly hello that Bond took the wrong way and it turns out that Lee isn’t ACTUALLY brainwashed I guess? He’s got his memory, he still remembers who Bond is, and he seems to be planning something despite Goldfinger having a direct line to the pleasure and pain centers of his brain. Perhaps calling it a MIND CONTROL DEVICE was a bit facetious of me, but in my defense it’s pretty much the only way that John Lee’s actions up to this point could make any sense. Agent Kim being in full control of her faculties and even given an option to escape still chose to take the dragon from John Lee all the way back in issue 5 and deliver it to Goldfinger on a silver platter. PERHAPS she’s playing some ridiculously convoluted long game and couldn’t break her cover, but it seems like a bit of red flag if she was in full control of her faculties at the time! In any case, Goldfinger and his men (including Agent K) storm the room that Bond and Lee are in and they discuss what to do with our Nosey British Friend over here. However, John Lee manages to convince Goldfinger that this Bond fellow might be of some use which seems exceedingly risky for Goldfinger to humor, but he does anyway and allows Bond to live. Something similar DOES happen in the movie where Bond becomes a “guest” of Goldfinger’s, but that still makes more sense than him doing it here. Goldfinger kept him alive because he didn’t believe him to be a threat AND he said he knew information that Goldfinger needed to know; especially when he namedrops the secret project Goldfinger is working on. This is the famous laser scene that I’m ASSUMING we’ll get to at some point in this series, but here it just seems like WAY to much risk for someone who will ultimately just be another mind-controlled henchman to add to the seemingly endless stream of them he already has.
In any case, the issue ends with Goldfinger sparing Bond, at least for the time being, and Moneypenny over at MI6 wondering what the heck he’s thinking; certainly not for the first time but no less stressful because of it. Where many of the previous issues stood on their own as fun adventures held up by the great chemistry between Lee and Bond, this one feels more like a piece of a bigger puzzle and so while it may have more weight in the context of the larger story it just feels a bit lacking on its own. By no means bad, but certainly not the best of an otherwise really great series of issues. I’m interested to see what they do differently from the movie but I’m worried they may try to do too much of the same.
Issue 8 (June 2019)
The issue begins with Bond in the first phase of his ORU initiation. I’m still uncertain if Goldfinger knows that Bond is an MI6 agent or the like, but whoever he thinks Bond is he’s certainly this surgery will be more than enough to bring him over to the cause. The sequence is… perhaps a bit much. It’s going for EXTREME but for me it goes past that and into the realm of goofy pretty much immediately. It starts with the absurdly sinister doctor performing the surgery who is right up there with Herbert West as far as shamelessly enjoying his disturbing work. Plus he looks kind of like Hugo Strange without the facial hair which can’t be a good sign for Bond!
When he wakes up, he’s in a room more dark and secretive than The War Room in Dr. Strangelove where Not-Hugo strange gets him up and running with a few massive electrical charges straight to the brain. If he’s good he’ll get the happy juice, and if he’s bad he’ll be eating more electricity than Marv in Home Alone 2. As a test of his loyalty, he’s handed a cricket bat and told to beat up someone they drag into the room with a bag over his head. The man turns out to be John Lee and after a few motivational zaps, he does indeed beat the crap out of him… at which point John Lee is ordered to do the same back. It’s rather gratuitous and not especially clever, like a really lazy Saw trap, and it doesn’t even seem to DO anything as Bond is not brainwashed and frankly neither is John Lee. There’s not even any PERMANENT damage as Bond wakes up sometime later in a nice room with one small bandage over his left eyebrow. Hardly a foolproof plan to weed out the wheat from the chaff (or the spies undercover from your run of the mill henchman), but regardless this seems to be enough for Goldfinger to let James in on his latest scheme. Said scheme involves a diamond mine in South Africa that ORU was secretly mining out of until that particular cell decided to go rogue and keep the diamonds for themselves. Goldfinger wants Bond, Lee, and Kim to go in there, take the diamonds back, and kill everyone; not just the ORU agents but the civilians they have working in there. Somehow Moneypenny STILL has a working virtual room listening device thingies on Bond despite the thorough medical examination and the copious amounts of electricity that have coursed through his veins, and decides that now is the time to strike back. However, M tells her to back off until they know more; even if waiting that long means that Bond gets fully assimilated to ORU’s side and becomes another target for them to gun down. I don’t know, the threats about killing John Lee at least held SOME amount of tension, but I don’t buy Bond turning for a second, and frankly I don’t think anyone at MI6 really expects it either so this scene rings a bit hollow for me.
Back at Goldfinger HQ, things aren’t going so well for Bond as he’s having a bit of trouble learning the ropes here; made worse by the fact that Goldfinger linked his mind control device to Lee’s and Kim’s, so whenever HE messes up they pay for it as well. His first mistake was assuming they would only kill the ORU agents who rebelled.
Everyone needs to die. But the other people in the mine are just civilian’s possibly even FORCED to work at gunpoint!
This is the EVIL ORU organization; they don’t mess around and the more dead bodies there are the better! Well in that case, why don’t they just blow the whole thing up then!? Make as much noise and destruction as possible!? See, NOW Bond is getting it!
And so the issue ends with the Three Stooges of international espionage getting their assignment and having to find a way to get it done in as noisy a fashion as possible to avoid the wrath of Mr. Zappy! While I found this issue to be much less substantive than the previous one as it’s mostly the gratuitous Bond torture scenes, it does have a much better ending which clarifies what we can expect from the next issue and the stakes at hand. We’re definitely not doing anything remotely close to Operation Grand Slam and I’m glad that we’re not rushing as fast as we can through the film’s storyline to allow for new ideas and interesting dynamics to form. Seeing how Agent Kim reacts to Bond and Lee’s bromance will certainly be something worth looking forward to, and I’m intrigued how Bond plans to subvert Goldfinger’s plan without getting everyone killed. That’s what Bond does best though, right? Find an unbelievable way to get out of a trap he put himself into in the first place and pretend that he meant to do that the whole time!