James Bond 007 and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Dynamite Entertainment and Ian Fleming Publications
Welcome back to my recaps of the James Bond 007 series, or as I like to call it NEVER SAY NEVER FINISHED AGAIN! Yeah, it’s been over a year since I started reviewing these and there’s not real excuse as to why I didn’t finish other than I got distracted with other projects and my week to week reviews that it just fell through the cracks. Well I finally took a two week vacation from my job and what better time to do even MORE work than when I’m trying to relax!? All facetiousness aside, I am glad that I’m finally gonna close the book on this and tell you all how it ends as well as my thoughts on the series as a whole! Let’s get started!
Issue 11 (September 2019)
The issue begins with Goldfinger on what I assume is a typical day of super-villainy where he’s interrogating one of his underlings who has been stealing money from the organization and investing it in some outside projects. Goldfinger would be much more upset if it weren’t for the fact that this associate has a lot of gold rings and is COMPLETELY incapable of reading the room! I mean if you’re gonna make it this easy for him, you might as well get a bonus!
As it turns out however, this is going to be the highlight of his day as Bond, John, and Aria have taken a phone from one of the many ORU agents they disposed of at the end of the last episode, and is giving everyone in the organization an ultimatum; walk away or get killed. Some take their advice and try to run away, but they don’t call Goldfinger a Supervillain for nothing and he swiftly eliminates the defectors with FREAKING MISSILES that he just so happens to have on hand whenever he needs to instill a little fear and discipline. With the ORU agents brought back in line, it’s time for his master plan at Olymptech Paradise whatever that may be, but they seem to have figured out that a few ORU agents are meeting with the head of security on the island, so they kill those three and assume their identities to find out what’s REALLY going on. This is where things take a turn and I’m honestly not sure that I like it. I’ll give them credit that it does create a degree of ambiguity here as the seedy underbelly of Olymptech Paradise is exposed and this creates some friction between our heroes and Goldfinger who’s interest may be a lot more aligned than first thought. The problem is that there are MANY ways they could have done this… but in a book that is otherwise pretty light and uses grim story beats sparingly, the revelation here sits pretty heavily on the rest of the book. See, the security director isn’t working with ORU to try and destroy the island or for some sort of bribe; he was convinced that they would help him bring JUSTICE to this place because it’s Libertarian ideals have been used to cover up HUMAN TRAFFIKING AND MASS GRAVES!
Obviously Bond, John, and Aria want to act on this and bring this place down, particularly the Director who seems to be the one most enthusiastically adding to the corpse pile, but M has his reservations; not only due to the delicate nature of international politics, but due to all three of them having been recently compromised by ORU. Whether or not we believe them to be free of Goldfinger’s influence, M can’t be hasty in this and so the agents are told to leave… only for Goldfinger to come out from the shadows and offer to work with them to bring justice to this wretched place.
As I said, it’s a solid twist and leaves the issue on a decent cliffhanger; I just wish they didn’t have to go THAT far with it. Sure, we had some pretty bleak stuff regarding Aria and the flashbacks to her being broken by ORU, but that’s a fairly common trope within spy fiction and I don’t think the depiction of it here brought the mood down significantly. Mass graves on the other hand? I don’t know, just seems a bit excessive to me and not exactly the tone I want to go into the next issue with.
Issue 12 (October 2019)
And now we come to the final issue that will hopefully wrap up all the storylines in a satisfying manner and perhaps get us back to the debonair spy fun that got severely dampened by the end of the previous issue! It starts off well enough with Bond, John, and Aria all trying to kill Goldfinger who turns out to be a hologram who sadly can’t be punched but can still lecture them on the nature of good versus evil while also making them an offer they can’t refuse.
Goldfinger’s plan is to create a catastrophe large enough that it will tank the economy and increase the value of his gold which is not TOO dissimilar from his plan in the movie where he would set off a nuke in Fort Knox and therefore make the value of his own gold skyrocket. In the interest of cooperation, Goldfinger will alter his plan from killing every to just killing ONE person, the director, but only if our three agents help him do it. It’s a win-win scenario, right? The dead people get avenged and the death of such a wealthy person would no doubt cause chaos in the stock market! And, for all intents and purpose, they agree! It’s a LITTLE bit muddled here what the plan was, if everything went according to plan, and if there was any deception on either side ,but essentially it works out as Goldfinger proposed. The three agents go to the Director’s super secret penthouse, they find a bunch of dead bodies there as well, and they fight off a bunch of ORU agents that Goldfinger gave them information on. During the chaos however, one of the ORU agents fires a nerve gas canister into the Director’s panic room, and Aria kicks him inside right as the door is closing. It doesn’t take long for Bond and company to clean up the rest of the ORU agents on the island, and… that’s it! They just fly away into the sunset! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Well okay, there’s a BIT more after that as we do get an epilogue to all of this. During their escape from the island, John and Aria run off and presumably leave the spy life behind and Bond pretends to not have seen them get away. We then cut to sometime later where Goldfinger is chilling out in one of his safe houses, surrounded by gold bars, when he gets a phone call from Bond. He explains that he likes gold because it’s CLEAN (not sure how well that tracks), but it turns out to be a distraction as Bond jumps through the window and punches him in the face before MI6 come in and drag him away in handcuffs.
I started with the 007 series because, at least at the time, it was the most recent line in the James Bond comic book series and I wanted to start with something that was somewhat fresh. Since I started writing these recaps, I DID go back and read a few of the previous series and I’m actually kind of lucky that I started with 007 because I honestly found some of that earlier stuff (back when Warren Ellis was the primary writer) kind of distasteful. A lot of violence, a lot of suffering, to me it just felt like it was trying to turn the Bond franchise into something much edgier than it is. This series on the other hand nails Bond at his best; when it’s fun and adventurous instead of bleak and gritty. Sure there’s room for some grit in this franchise as the Daniel Craig movies certainly have a darker tone than the rest of the films, but for me Bond has always been about having FUN as a spy; relying on wit and finesse instead of brutality and stoicism. Things DO end up dipping into that territory at the end with the mass graves in issue eleven and frankly the whole final issue feels like they were rushing to wrap things up, but the writer Greg Pak shows an understanding of the character that arguably exceeds that of the current film franchise! There is certainly room for improvement beyond the slapdash ending, and frankly John Lee is SUCH a magnetic presence here that he threatens to overshadow Bond which is probably NOT what you want to happen in a book NAMED after him, but I enjoyed this series quite a bit and I can only hope that the books released since hew closer to this vision of the franchise than what Warren Ellis was doing a few years ago. With No Time To Die right around the corner, perhaps it IS time for me to pick up another one of these comics and see what they’ve done with the character since this book wrapped up in 2019, but a simple James Bond dork like me may not be able to juggle it all. You could even say that THE NERD IS NOT ENOUGH! Seriously, with that kind of GENIUS wordplay, I’m surprised I haven’t been tapped to write one of these books!