Javier E. Trujillo reviews the sixth and final issue of Dynamite’s newest James Bond thriller, 007: For King and Country!
Bond versus Gann for the fate of Myrmidon! Can Bond defeat his former mentor, ally, and lover?
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Alessio Avallone
Colour artist: Claudia Giulani
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Main cover: Joseph Michael Linsner
Packager & editor: Nate Cosby
Bond and Gann face off, with their fight getting interrupted by Myrmidon soldiers. Bond temporarily escapes, only to find that 009 is clinging to life after being betrayed by Gann. He reveals Fromm’s goal-how his nanotech would allow him to create a global network of soldiers loyal only to him. 009 tips off Bond about how to disable the servers which would render the soldiers to be like cars without drivers.
Bond gets captured and trotted out in front of Gann as she delivers a speech to what are now her troops. However, Bond has a trick up his sleeve and has taken care of the servers already, making Myrmidon ineffective. Gann lets Bond go, asking him to make sure the “kings” don’t ever use the weapon.
Five days later, Bond gets debriefed at MI6. Bond’s pending reinstatement is still on the foreign secretary’s desk. Before M signs off his approval, he wants to know what happened to Fromm’s research. Bond says he doesn’t know, cautioning that they should be more concerned with what to do if it ever resurfaces. Moneypenny delivers a letter to him that he takes to the roof to read in private. It’s one final poem from Gann.
Last call for writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and he does not disappoint, capping off his twelve issue stretch with a satisfying conclusion!
The hand to hand action is intense under the solo pencils of Avallone, infusing off-kilter panels with frenetic movement between the two combatants. In prior issues, I was more partial to Giorgio Spalletta’s art, but Avallone acquitted himself well, providing some dramatic layouts and emotional acting.
Claudia Giulani really made the book come to life with her colours. Even with the dark interiors of Myrmidon’s headquarters, she infused a vibrancy to the art and made key moments stand out. The finale felt fraught with danger, a feeling that subsided when Bond reached the tranquility of his life back in London and we see characters ride off into a warm sunset.
Johnson really tested Bond’s loyalty throughout these two arcs-to his country, his friends, and ultimately himself. Bond is a tricky character to get right-do you lean into the cinematic aspects or go for more of a Flemingesque portrayal? Johnson walks the line well, giving brief insights into the enigmatic hero and the ennui he feels from time to time.
He’s also created a fascinating character in Gwen Gann. Both loyal to Britain and seditious, friend and foe, she’s one of the more complex characters Bond has squared off against in these pages. Whilst Johnson has crafted the stereotypical Bond Villain in Fromm, Gann is the true threat, in addition to being an ally in the field and “Bond Girl”. The fact that Bond goes on the run with her, even going so far as to “settle down” speaks volumes about his feelings towards her. One would have to imagine Bond recalls the sting of Vesper’s betrayal yet again as he attempts to thwart Gann’s plans, a front-row witness to her sacrificing all to meet her ends. Despite her efforts, she truly doesn’t want to kill Bond, reflecting her longing for the simpler times they shared.
What I found interesting about the conclusion was that the threat was only solved in the short term. Pandora’s box has been opened and the ending is a touch downbeat and melancholy, certainly not the typical romantic ending after the world has been definitively saved. This is a gray world that Johnson is depicting and the ending is in line with that. Despite all that, Bond remains resolute, serving the greater good. It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
With peril both of an emotional and physical nature, For King and Country is a highlight of the Dynamite Comics era. Danger was around every corner, you never knew which character you could trust, and the visuals were a knockout. Johnson crafted a taut tale and I would welcome his return to the character if it were to come. My martini is raised to everyone who worked on this series. Now bring on the new era with writer Garth Ennis!
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