James Bond 007 #1
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Marc Laming and Triona Farrell
Lettering by Ariana Maher
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
It is the year 2018. And no matter what kind of horrors this year throws at us, this will also be the year that Greg Pak delivers the finest love story he’s ever written:
James Bond and Oddjob.
No, I’m not kidding. And that’s not a bad thing.
There’s a subversive rom-com streak that gives James Bond 007 #1 an unexpected jolt, as Pak and artist Marc Laming put the meet-cute into this deadly cinematic rivalry. Sure, you could easily argue I’m reading too deeply into this = and honestly, the day that Dynamite or Ian Fleming’s estate makes any of this subtext into text is the day I eat my razor-lidded hat - but the chemistry of MI6’s finest agent against Pak’s suave reimagining of Oddjob is undeniable. With equal parts flirting and fisticuffs, this debut is the stuff that would spark a thousand fanfics, but with production values that are so high that you should not miss out.
From Kingsway West to Mech Cadet Yu, Greg Pak has been a leading voice for Asian representation in comic books, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he takes the stoic, brutish Oddjob from Goldfinger and fleshes him out in a vibrant, three-dimensional character. And real talk, it’s incredible - Oddjob is fluid, fun, and downright sexy, as he and Bond trade quips over cards or when they square off in a brutal kitchen battle as they are both hunting down a Russian smuggler’s briefcase. And it may just be the structure of Pak’s script - which puts Oddjob front and center, letting 007 catch up almost as a foil rather than a lead character - but Oddjob’s extroverted charm feels almost like manic pixie dream girl material for a character as cold and ruthless as Bond. And I reiterate - this isn’t a bad thing! On the contrary, for a womanizing character as James Bond, Pak is blazing some new frontiers, challenging our preconceived notions and really keeping readers on their toes.
But a lot of this charm also comes from the artwork. Laming really helps sell Oddjob’s newfound sexiness, as he’s a much smoother and more agile figure than the stiff and stocky bodyguard of the movies. But Laming also adds a smirk on Oddjob’s face that feels effortlessly suave, the boisterous body language that comes when the hitman pulls up a seat at the card table with Bond. When the two come to blows, however, Laming shifts gear, with the fight choreography being strong and easy-to-follow. Colorist Triona Farrell does some interesting stuff with the texture of her work, giving the series an old-school cinema sort of look — that said, sometimes her palettes come across a bit too strong, such as the opening Oddjob fight in a green-lit club, which took me several reads before I realized who exactly was fighting.
While the beginning of the issue starts off at a slow burn, Pak and Laming are pushing some unexpected boundaries with James Bond 007 #1 — and whether it’s intentional or not, the end result of Bond and Oddjob’s bromance is something that doesn’t feel like any other 007 adventure we’ve seen so far. With thrilling action, wonderful artwork, and a mainstay villain being revamped for the 21st century, this is a book you should not miss.