Jeff Parker has his Writer’s Commentary on James Bond Origin #1, out this week from Dynamite, as we head back to World War II…
Boy, did Bob Q nail it with that opening shot. That’s the way to bring you into a story, with a Junkers Bomber coming right at you. I want to thank cartoonist Sarah Burrini for the big assist with all the German here. You can see her excellent work here.
We quickly go from the threat in the sky to the consequences on the ground, in Clydebank, Scotland and introduce Lt. Commander Ronald Weldon of the Royal Navy. In his books, Fleming alluded to a Vickers colleague of James’ father who put James on the path of his special service in WW2, primarily through the Navy. Thus we’ve created Weldon, a sort of guiding star with many interesting connections. Bob gets across how being in the Blitz must have been like Hell on Earth.
And here’s James! Not Bond, James Bond — it’s helped me to differentiate him from the international badass he’ll grow into by referring to him mostly as James in these books. Though of course superiors will have no time for that and call him simply Bond. Still, even as a young man it only felt right to bring him in at a moment of high danger, that’s when we’ve always seen him first.
Grumpy Mr. Astor, the Housemaster. This is about all we see of him; it’s not Hogwarts, after all. Look at the way Bob makes him stride away, full of swagger. This is the kind of characterization that really helps in a work like this — we don’t have the usual trappings of 007 to surround him with, so everything that makes him James Bond comes from his character.
We meet Professor Keller, this time a family friend of Monique Delacroix, James’ mother. I like imagining that she was the truly adventurous one who James takes after. James is naturally eager to visit Keller who is a connection to his late parent, and very suspicious of the visitor who necessitates him having to leave. Extra suspicious because Keller and he continue their conversation in German! Bob again aces a key moment, where James is looking at the old pictures. At this point his parents have been dead a few years, they’ve started turning into myth in his memories and then here he gets a chance to see her as a student like him, having fun with friends. Quite a thing to process.
James shows up just in time to help his friend who is drastically outnumbered by some of the rougher students. This was a chance not only to show James’ ability, but to touch on some of the uneasiness they would have had to deal with because of the larger backdrop of war. Maguire is Irish, and is catching resentment from the boys because Ireland was neutral during the war. Which is hardly fair, as Maguire points out his father works for the War Office, and plenty of Irish joined the British military. The striped colors are a bit more subdued on their jackets here than they were in real life because the bright traditional colors would have been oddly distracting from the tone of the story at this point. Look up Fettes’ uniforms and you’ll see what I mean. I chose the surname Maguire because of the biggest Bond fan I know, legendary artist Kevin Maguire.
The groundskeeper rides by on his motorbike to chide them, here I’m establishing how James is always hyper-aware of what options he has later when he requires a weapon or vehicle.
James meets Weldon, and my favorite part of suggesting that they just got a lengthy speech is Weldon’s note mentioning Lord Nelson. He’s a Navy man, after all, there was no way they wouldn’t mention the all-time great Naval hero of Britain.
Alas, Professor Keller. He’s mixed up in something. Good action by Bob Q! James does fairly well, but he’s still 17 and these guys do this kind of stuff for a living. They were probably a bit tired from working over the Professor. And here we start a thread that will weave throughout the first year … something about a rocket.
Look, you knew as soon as you saw that motorcycle, James was going to be taking it. The guy thinks the whole world is his lending library. I love this shot Bob did of him tearing off on it. I have it on my website right now.
Poor James, but better to be ran off the road and knocked out in a field than shot, right?
Also when you’re in the Scottish countryside, you’re just not going to be able to find a cool ride to go into action on, so a bicycle will have to do. We’re years away from the Aston Martin.
Now we’re back at the beginning, in the Clydebank Blitz. I think Bob really pulled off some amazing things here, the whole scene feels chaotic and dangerous. Everyone running for shelter, more bombers screaming in. And then the hard part – young Maguire more than pays his friend back for defending him earlier. It’s the kind of loss James will never forget and will always remind him of what he’s fighting for.
We go out with Weldon’s narration, which I wanted to do to evoke the narration of the novels a bit. It also gives some insight into this character who thought he was going to be helping safeguard his friends’ son, and instead he put him right in the middle the war. James might have been content to finish his final year of school but not now. He has to put himself into the world and make a difference. It’s a defining moment.
I’ll probably talk more on Bond over at my blog if you visit www.jeffparkerwrites.com and I’m on a panel at Rose City Comicon moderated by Bond expert Benjamin Saunders if you’re in the area!