Young James Bond is moving up the ranks in Dynamite Entertainment's James Bond: Origin title, and with March's #7 he will come across what will become one of his most long-lasting adversaries: the Russian government.
Set during World War 2, the "Russian Ruse" arc of James Bond: Origin finds the one-day 007 stationed on a Royal Navy warship patrolling European waters - and they're called in over a downed ship that the Russians say was caused by the Nazi regime. But with a title like "Russian Ruse," you have to believe something is up.
Series writer Jeff Parker spoke with Newsarama about this upcoming arc, and is joined by incoming artist Ibrahim Moustafa - who, we learn, has a surprise origin with the James Bond: Origin title itself.
Newsarama: Jeff, James Bond has had some harried adventures in the first arc of James Bond: Origin - but now we're looking ahead to March's new arc, "Russian Ruse." What can you tell us about that?
Jeff Parker: This touches on the precarious situation of the Soviet involvement in World War 2. The Soviets had a pact with Germany originally that would divide up Europe between them, and by this point in 1941 Germany broke that with Operation Barbarossa, where the Axis began invading the U.S.S.R. So while Great Britain and the U.S.S.R. have a common enemy, they’re not exactly good friends.
At this point, James has switched from service on a submarine to duty on a Royal navy warship working the Norwegian and Barents Seas. The Boudica answers a distress call for Norse merchant ship, but it’s too late - the Russian ship they were selling supplies to reports that the Nazis attacked and the Norwegians were sunk.
Nrama: So the Russians say the Nazis did it -- but this story-arc is called "Russian Ruse" so I can't really trust them. What can you tell us on that front?
Parker: We’ll refer back to some of James’ training as he studies the Soviet cargo ship and see things through his eyes. He doesn’t think the Russian account of events rings true and he has orders to investigate further if not. Which means abandoning his post and getting onto the Russian ship.
Nrama: Let's back up a bit, how would you describe Royal Navy lieutenant James Bond here in the onset of this story?
Parker: He is an extremely young lieutenant because his unique position between the Royal Navy and Secret Service require him to have enough rank to be available to his multiple commanders, but he is a very able seaman. James' situation is a bit awkward because his Captain hasn’t been fully briefed on his role here, he prefers his sailors to follow his own orders. And he definitely doesn’t want them diving off the ship in the middle of the night to board a Soviet merchant vessel.
Ibrahim Moustafa: I think Jeff is spot on with his approach, and it makes writing with him a breeze as well. There's an earnest likeability to the way that Jeff has presented the character of young Bond that I find really engaging.
Nrama: This is a period piece, of course. Ibrahim, any interesting research you can talk about for this?
Moustafa: Lots of research, but I don't know that much of it is very interesting. [Laughs]
Mostly figuring out what kind of cars the military used, what kind of boats, uniforms, trying to get a sense of what the landscape was like in various locations before modern buildings went up, etc. It's very tedious, actually.
Nrama: He will meet a woman named Oksana in this story-arc. What can you tell us about her?
Moustafa: She's James' only ally in a tough spot, but she's also not entirely on his side, which makes for a pretty interesting dynamic, I think
Parker: As we know from the books and movies, he’ll be meeting many other Russian ladies in his future cold war missions, but Oksana will be his introduction. I’ll leave it to the reader to assess whether she’s really his ally or has ulterior motives.
Nrama: Big picture, what are your goals with this arc?
Parker: This story really pushes James into the grey area where his MI6 work will take him for decades. Since we are in WW2 who the good guys and bad guys are is more clear most of the time, but this gets him into more ambiguous situations, and where he’ll have to start trusting his instincts instead of waiting for orders.
Moustafa: One thing that I really wanted to do at the outset of this project was to take one of the few references that Fleming made to Bond's time in the war and give it a fleshed out story. We were able to do that in the story that follows "Russian Ruse" that Jeff and I co-wrote. To be able to put a stamp on Bond's official canon like that has been very special to me.
Nrama: Ibrahim previously wrote and drew the James Bond: Solstice one-shot. From one writer/artist to another, James, how is Ibrahim doing with what you scripted?
Parker: As you would expect, Ibrahim knocks it out of the park. He and I can babble on about Bond for hours, and he’s full of good ideas and neat touches that really flesh out the stories. He’s a born storyteller as well as a major 007 aficionado.
Nrama: Ibrahim, what interested you in this offer to draw the "Russian Ruse" arc of James Bond: Origin?
Moustafa: So, my involvement in this book goes back a couple of years, actually.
Dynamite had just obtained the Bond license and I was talking to Jeff Parker at the Emerald City Comic Con. I asked him if he know who was editing the Bond titles as I'd love to work on one (being the huge Bond buff that I am). Jeff told me that he was in fact slated to write one of those titles and that it'd be great if we were to collaborate on it together. So he put me in touch with our editor Nate Cosby the following Monday. I was to kick off the series with Jeff (I even plotted a three-issue arc of it), but a long gestation period on the book and my own schedule necessitated that I jump in on the second half of the 12-issue run. But now we're off to the races!
Nrama: This follows your previous James Bond work, writing and drawing the Solstice one-shot. What was it like coming back in, and being paired with Jeff?
Moustafa: This is a very different type of Bond story from Solstice. With the latter, there's an understanding of fully-formed James Bond in a modern context and so I was able to move the pieces around into a way that drew from that version of Bond, while bringing in classic elements from the Fleming novels to tell a unique and personal story for James.
With Origin, we're showing how Bond comes to be the man in the novels and we're doing that within the context of a lot of actual historical events, so it's a new challenge that we're having fun with. Jeff and I have been friends for a long time and I think we share a lot of storytelling sensibilities. I'm also learning a lot from him as a writer as we plot and write the last arc together. It's been really great.
Nrama: Any chance we could see you, Jeff, knock out a cover or a pin-up or something for this book?
Parker: There is a chance, say that around the editor Nate Cosby if you don’t mind. Because I do want a crack at drawing James!