James Bond 007 and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Dynamite Entertainment and Ian Fleming Publications
We’re back with two more issues of Goldfinger 2: Nostalgia Never Dies! After Bond and best buddy John Lee were captured by the sinister Auric Goldfinger, mostly on purpose so that Lee can try and rescue Agent Kim from his diabolical terrorist organization, all three are now being forced to carry out the bidding of ORU to maintain their cover; but how far will they be willing to go to keep Goldfinger from suspecting too much, and will MI6 be able to look the other way if things turn ugly? It’s certainly an intriguing premise that you’d want from a spy series, but with the book’s strongest points being Bond and Lee working together to fight bad guys, can the book keep things interesting when they’re working together to HELP them? Let’s find out!!
Issue 9 (July 2019)
The issue begins with our three mind-controlled agents (James Bond, (), and ()) along with a VERY evil looking scientist dude arriving at the diamond mine that they’ve been instructed by Goldfinger to blow up. Their cover is a group of delivery people for some sort of Environmental Remediation group and they agents manage to talk their way past the security guard; earning themselves a little bit of happy juice in the process!
The tension throughout this issue is that Moneypenny is still logged into Bond’s tracking chip thingy which allows her to see and hear whatever is going on which she takes a sign that Bond is still with MI6, but given the severity of the indoctrination, M is not entirely certain of that and Moneypenny’s confidence starts to waver throughout the mission. This is a good hook for an issue in theory, but the thing is that with James Bond being the character that he is, there’s simply not a moment where you believe he really DID turn on MI6. This works better with characters like John Lee who we like, but aren’t the main character of the story and therefore could potentially go rogue or even get killed at some point; not so much with the title character with at least three more issues to go and a licensing agreement with Dynamite that isn’t about to end anytime soon. In any case, the trio sneaks their way into the facility and shoot a bunch of ORU defectors while making sure to tactically avoid killing civilians; not because they don’t want to, you understand! They’re all going to die in the explosion anyway, so why alert them to that ahead of time? Evil Scientist dude is convinced, at least for the time being, no doubt helped by the fact that they managed to find the diamonds in short order, and with the clock ticking on ORU getting away with the diamonds and blowing up the mine, Moneypenny has no choice to go ahead and storm the facility with a bunch of MI6 dudes who VERY OBVIOUSLY run right past the evil scientist! Come on, guys! James Bond can’t be the ONLY one who knows what he’s doing!
Bond has it ALL planned out however as he may have given the scientist the diamonds, but in exchange, he was given the explosives to blow up the mine. Instead of doing that, he destroys a generator that sets off an EMP and therefore breaks the connection between our three agents and the doctor; allowing them to take off their MIND CONTROL NECK CHIPS and finally be free of ORU and Goldfinger’s influence. I’m pretty sure they could have done just as well with a roll of aluminum foil, but whatever you have at hand I suppose. Sometimes its kitchen supplies, other times its bricks of C4! So while things may not be peachy keen considering the bad guys now have the funds to bankroll some seriously sinister plots, at least Bond and Moneypenny are reunited as allies instead of facing each other as foes. What does Goldfinger have planned, and how will he act to this startling display of betrayal? Is Agent Kim trustworthy despite being free from the brain chip, and by extension can Bond and MI6 trust Lee to put the world’s safety above that of his for agent buddy? I guess we’ll have to wait until the next issue to find out!
This issue wasn’t anything to write home about, but it does its job of functionally getting our heroes out of the clutches of the bad guy to set up the final confrontation. In fact, we’re pulling them out of ORU so soon that I almost wonder why they bothered to get Bond stuck with them in the first place as being able to break out so effortlessly takes a lot away from ORU’s menace who until now seemed to be competent if nothing else. On top of that, John Lee barely has anything to do and anytime his personality is turned down is a sign that things aren’t going in the best direction; but like I said the issue gets us from point A to B in as straightforward and painless a way as possible. What’s REALLY going to matter is where we go from here now that the world’s most dastardly terrorist organization is on to them and will no doubt be looking to neutralize them once and for all!
Issue 10 (August 2019)
The issue begins with a dream sequence as Aria Kim, the former Agent K of ORU, is imagining herself being forced to kill both Bond and Lee under the orders of Goldfinger which is as good a segue as any to talk about perhaps the biggest problem with this series. I’ll give this issue kudos for finally telling us SOMETHING about Aria, but up until this moment she’s just been there either as a henchperson for the bad guys or a McGuffin for Lee to chase after. Even the few times where she DID get to take a bit of the spotlight like in issue three where she tried to renege on her agreement with the Russian Dude in brutal fashion or in issue five where John was still unable to reach her, she still felt like someone being dragged along for all this; a representative of someone else’s goals and aspiration without any distinguishing wants, needs, or even flaws to call her own. Now that she’s with the good guys… well, the flashbacks are informative if nothing else, but she still feels kind of empty with none of the life to them that the other characters have.
Then again, John Lee who was the shining beacon of this entire series has been pushed to the side in recent for increasingly tedious exposition dumps, so I guess to single out Aria as particularly empty may just have more to do with timing and pacing than a lack of desire to write an interesting character. Speaking of exposition dumps, the thrust of the narrative here is that everyone is wary of letting Bond, Lee, and Kim do anything about this Goldfinger situation since they were so recently under the control of his SUPER DRUGS, and therefore are being held in a treatment center of some sort while the rest of MI6 sorts it out. They don’t have a lot to go on however as the only bit of information Kim is able to provide is the word “paradise” which seems to indicate the Olympitech Paradise (the Elon Musk version of Fight Island we saw back in issue four), but that’s still a pretty big target with a lot of different ways to hit it. With seemingly no other option but to assume that those three agents will try escape, Moneypenny and M just stare at the clock until five minutes later they get the report and order MI6 to pursue them; not to kill them per se but to make a convincing cover for the three agents potentially returning as ORU agents.
As predictable as this whole sequence is, down to ORU finding these three within minutes of their escape, it’s still probably the best part of the issue due almost entirely to Aria. ORU agents along with that bald scientist dude come out of the woods firing drug darts at the three of them, filling them with enough narcotics to bake a horse, and invite them back into the fold where they can have ALL the happy drugs they want. Aria returns to an earlier flashback where she has to kill a row of people as part of her ORU indoctrination, and in completing this gruesome task in the past, we cut back to the present to see that she’s done the same here. Despite being under their spell the longest, Aria has fully broken herself away from them and sent a bloody message to Goldfinger in the process. They may not have gotten any closer to figuring out Goldfinger’s next move, but this will surely put a damper on whatever he’s planning next.
Okay, so maybe hoping that THIS issue will be the one to kick things into gear as we go into the final act was a bit optimistic, and it’s not like this wasn’t an aspect of the story WORTH telling, but aside from the ending it was far too similar to the last issue; rather functional without a lot of spice to it. Aria Kim got her big moment to shine at the end of the issue which is by far the best moment in EITHER of these issues, but aside from that, there wasn’t a lot to write home about. Bond and Lee barely get to interact so the chemistry just isn’t there, and the MI6 machinations just seem perfunctory as Bond and his two buddies end up doing all the heavy lifting. Sadly we’ve only got two more issues to go as Dynamite hasn’t released a Bond-related comic since the twelfth issue of this (there’s a one-shot graphic novel that’s supposed to come out sometime this year), so we can only hope that it ends with a Goldeneye style BANG instead of a Spectre like fizzle…