Sunday, November 19, 2006

James Bond, For Your Eyes Only #2

James Bond, For Your Eyes Only #2, November 1981, Marvel Comics

The midterm elections may be weeks behind us, but the democratic fanatic dedicated to contributing to the court of popular opinion need not worry, because the blitz for the holiday box office has begun, and unfortunately, James Bond has lost to batch of animated penguins. Yes, despite the hype surrounding controversially blonde Daniel Craig as the new James Bond failed to stand up to the family friendly Happy Feet, yet another movie about the splendor of penguin culture, and came in second in these films’ opening weekend. I confess, I didn’t see Casino Royale, but I am intrigued, especially since the latest Bond-isode seems to have taken a page from the Batman Begins book, revealing how a hero evolved from a determined somebody to virtual uber-man. Alas, I’ve heard and read some criticism that this move sacrifices the cocky confidence and corny wit that makes Bond so charming in the first place – I guess smoldering sexuality really isn’t enough. Man, those penguins really have it all.

Since I’m not a proactive James Bond fan (I’ve seen a few of the latest installments in the theater, but none of the earliest, most revered films), I assume this issue, For Your Eyes Only, is an adaptation from the movie of the same name. The plot involves . . . well, is the plot of any James Bond story really that important? If Bond isn’t spinning in the stratosphere, he’s tracking down an impossibly intelligent mad scientist and his worldwide weapon of doom, all the while utilizing terrain-adaptable technology that undoubtedly aroused Bill Gates back in the day. Bond doesn’t dish out the buzz saw cufflinks in this issue, but he does make good use of the resources in his environment, driving a zamboni over some hateful hockey players, and activating a sunken ship’s self-destruct charge to bid dosvedanya to a deep sea Russian interloper. Bond’s quips – that supposed lost quality in the new film – highlight the pivotal moments of this issue, like when an enemy’s car is teetering on a roadside cliff. “Seem a little on edge, don’t we?” Bond boasts before the villainous Locque falls to his death. When I die, I hope someone like James Bond is there to wrap up the tragedy in a timeless one-liner!

As a comic book, this issue is awkwardly paced, dedicated most of the second act to talking head shots of Bond and his allies, summing up some of the plot’s loose ends in time for the assumedly action-packed climax, which is actually too crammed into those last pages to maintain the story’s intrigue and effectiveness. Visually, the page layouts and characters’ blocking could have been more dynamic, more cinematographic, to reflect the story’s roots on the silver screen. As is, I’m surprised to find no credits to any of this issue’s contributors. The narrative and art aren’t bad, by any means; I guess I’m just jaded by all of this Bond hype lately. As someone approaching the franchise whole-heartedly for the first time, I expected more.

Maybe that’s the problem with the box office results of Casino Royale. As much as a new actor in the infamous role could attract a newer audience, some younger moviegoers may be intimidated by the character’s history. On the other hand, some Bond newbies walking out of Casino Royale could’ve been left wondering where the 007 they’ve always heard about was, particularly in the face of this introspective brooder Daniel Craig. Really, and somewhat ironically, tried and true James Bond fans may be the only ones that could take in this film without prejudice, driven by the interest in their hero’s humble origins. Like this comic book, Casino Royale may be for their eyes only. Me, I’m looking forward to the Get Smart complete series DVD release. Looking forward to it . . . and loving it.

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