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By Mickey Rivera. Aleš Kot has some experience with spies and covert operations. In 2014 he came out with Zero, a critically acclaimed headtrip about international espionage that performed stylistic and narrative somersaults around its readers’ heads. James Bond 007: The Body is a completely different animal. Like its protagonist, its story is classy and casual, and it punches you in the face when you least expect it.
Kot — along with the creative team of Luca Casalanguida, Valentina Pinto, and Thomas Napolitano — takes the legendary spy down a couple notches from the mythological ether where he usually resides. Instead of a daring and lavish tale of international intrigue, we meet Bond as he recovers from one of the routine beatings he receives as a payrolled government agent. Dr. Vird, a snarky MI6 physician who’s likely paid as much for his tight lips as for his medical expertise, engages in a casual conversation with Bond as he sizes up the damage this latest adventure has wrought. The conversation frames a story around how Bond got wrecked, and reveals some hard truths about a life spent killing “bad guys”. The Body is essentially a watercooler chat with James Bond, except the watercooler is Bond’s open wounds, and the chatter is about government-sanctioned murder.
As we all know, Bond is the embodiment of masculine stoicism, a casually hardcore living weapon employed by one of the most powerful governments on the planet. He is good at run-of-the-mill conversation to the extent that it protects him, or gets him what he wants, or makes him blend in. And of course he’s smart, which helps him make decisions wisely. Ultimately, however, it’s his legs that guide him to the target, his torso that absorbs incoming attacks, and his arms that finally brings the enemy down. The Body, with its talk of broken ribs and bruises, is partly about the physical damage wrought by Bond’s line of work. But, more essentially, it’s about what it’s like to inhabit a body that functions as a tool of the trade, a machine with an assigned purpose.
There’s definitely an understated brilliance to what Kot has done here. Without trying any cunning slights of hand or experimental tricks, he’s constructed a story that accentuates Bond’s stoic emotional character. While this lightweight story may feel more like a snack than a meal, there’s elegance in simplicity. With slick art and a classic character thrown in, this is a series to keep your eye on.
Written by Aleš Kot.
Art by Luca Casalanguida.
Colors by Valentina Pinto.
Letters by Thomas Napolitano.
6.5 out of 10
‘James Bond: The Body’ #1 is out in stores January 17.