Written by Warren Ellis and Drawn by Jason Masters
Published by Dynamite

Reviewed by Marc Mason

It’s about damned time.

Just in time for SPECTRE to hit theatres in the U.S, this week (it has already opened in the U.K.), James Bond makes a return to the comicbook shelves. And what a return it is! By turns exciting, witty, and full of intrigue, this first piece of the “Vargr” storyline delivers precisely what you want our of a Bond story.


Writer Warren Ellis appears to have a lot of latitude here, basing his take on Bond directly from the novels, not the films. He has the familiar trappings that we all know, but his interactions with them are not quite what movie fans would be expecting. His Bond is a hard man (much like Craig’s), but also one steeped in world-weary cynicism about a life of spycraft. It reads wonderfully on the page, making you want to spend more time in the company of this Bond, just to see what really makes him tick.

Ellis is abetted nicely by artist Jason Masters. His style is crisp and his lines are clean, making the panels flow smoothly as you parse through the issue. His characters are expressive, giving them real life on the page. I was unfamiliar with his work, but clearly, he is a talent to keep an eye on.

Not much else to say. This is an outstanding debut, and I expect huge things from the book going forward. Highly recommended.


Aisle Seat 2.0.87: Sharing is Caring

By Marc Mason

If you are lucky enough to find someone to spend your life with, life is pretty good.

If you are lucky enough to find that person and they share your prime interests?

Buy a lottery ticket. You are one lucky person.

For me, it’s my fiancée Sophie, and not only does Soph like comics, she loves them. I’ve shared comics with others, but it has never been quite like this. A while back, Soph looked at a stack of books and said “Where are the girl comics?” She was looking for even more to read, and she was looking for female leads.

I have been happy to comply.

Look, there is a lot of talk about diversity in comics right now, and that is good talk. Representation is monstrously important. As an art form, comics needs every pair of eyes it can get looking its way. The marketplace has plenty of room for everyone and for every type of story, and it is that very trait that will help comics survive and thrive.

As of late, no one has been doing this better than Image. The broad spectrum of product coming out of the new House Of Ideas has been extraordinary. Let’s talk about a few.

PAPER GIRLS by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang is a blast of sisterhood, science fiction, and mystery. Set in 1988, a group of young women find their morning delivering the newspaper disrupted in mind-boggling ways. Ninja cyborgs(?), crazy skies, insane machinery, bully boys… the foursome at the center of the story are in the position to report the news for the first time, not just toss it on porches. And good grief is this good. Wittily scripted, wildly plotted, and beautifully drawn, every aspect of this comic is a winner. Plus, it is the kind of fiction that seriously captures the imagination of young people. Why? The best sci-fi allows the reader to live vicariously through a character and imagine the experience – this book gives you multiple options to do so.

If sci-fi isn’t your thing, maybe magic is. If so, I’d highly recommend BLACK MAGICK from writer Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott. Opening up on a ritual in the woods, we quickly learn that one of the members of the coven is a cop named Rowan Black. We learn this because there’s a hostage situation going down, and the perp is asking specifically for her on the scene. Smart, gritty, and an absolute visual treat, this one impressed me with how skillfully it blends the cop and magic genres. Every ounce of it feels authentic and well-researched, as Rucka’s work usually does. Between Tara Chace, Carrie Stetko, Forever Carlyle, and now Rowan Black, no one does better women lead characters than Rucka. No one.

Finally, if you just enjoy a good lark every once in a while, I’d tell you to take a look at Antony Johnston and Shari Chankhamma’s CODENAME: BABOUSHKA which takes a nifty look at the flip side of a classic James Bond trope: the sexy Russian spygirl. Paced like a modern action flick, smartly scripted, lovingly drawn, and really just pure fun, I dug the first issue from start-to-finish. Baboushka is clever, resourceful, and efficient, getting the job done as well as (or better) than your traditional male spy. Johnston has been on fire lately, with THE FUSE consistently at the top of my reading stack every month, and this just solidifies how talented the man truly is. And his co-creators ain’t too shabby either.

Will I give these books to Soph? Damn skippy I will. And when she’s done, we’ll talk about them and geek out about how cool they are. What could be better than that?

Ain’t love grand?