Jeff Parker‘s Writer’s Commentary on James Bond: Origin #5 from Dynamite Entertainment.
Pg 1 and 2
Hey, I remember this. It’s James Bond, fresh off his first submarine mission, already grounded but then thinking big and crazy. If this plan succeeds, he’ll probably become known for this kind of action.
It was nice to show James in more of a team setting, which is something we can do at this stage of his life. He’s not supposed to know everything yet, and he doesn’t know how to fly planes yet. But one of the guys does, and to James, that’s good enough to justify trying to make a German Junkers bomber do its thing. Editor Nate Cosby was encouraging of this How-It-Works element, a lot of editors would push you to skip that stuff, but that’s what makes it stand out, I think.
We take a minute to examine what they have to work with and learn a bit about Der Stuka (German for THE SHARK) bombers. To me, this is the kind of stuff that best fits our early days/more grounded version of Bond. We’re not breaking out all kinds of gadgets, we’re showing the ingenuity of what they really had to work with at the time. Note the Nazi makes fun of them, which probably pushes the young men off the fence about whether they’ll give James’ plan a go.
Takeoffs and landings are the hardest part of flying planes, and I think this part shows that. It’s tricky action to make clear, but I’m working with Bob Quinn and that man is afraid of no story hurdle. I’ll be praising him much more in a minute. I like how the landing gear catches a bit of the treetops. On 6-2, I wish I’d asked Bob to flip the panel so James is seen from the same position he is in panel 2. In comics, the 180-degree rule (look it up) isn’t as big a deal as it is in film, but it’s generally a good idea to follow it when you can.
Here’s where Bob really shines, he makes you connect with these new pilots and how excited they are to be doing something so daring. Especially on 8, where James cuts loose firing on that German Cruiser, finally getting to have some revenge for the Clydebank Blitz, which started him on this path, and implicit in that his loss of school friend Macguire that day.
The strafing with the machine gun was cathartic, but it’s the kind of trick you only get to do once; the ship’s guns will be ready for them if they come that low again. James and Malcolm are having a devil of a time trying to bomb the Cruiser. I probably wouldn’t even be able to figure out how to release the wing bomb, they’re ahead of me.
Another miss! Like how Bob made that a tall vertical panel so you can see how the water erupts up into a huge plume. The progression of panels down the right side gives a nice rapid-fire pacing to the build-up. It also evokes a film-strip.
I love the idea of Bond fumbling with a manual and trying to remember as much German as possible to understand how the bombing sequence works. This kind of stuff makes me attach to the characters way more than heroes who slickly pull off something they’ve never done before. And look at that bottom panel where Bob puts the camera way up in the sky to get them starting to dive–that’s the stuff right there.
The big splash page of the Stuka dive. By the way, the Stukas were known for having this terrifying siren that you would hear as they went into their dive. The Nazis clearly liked the psychological terror of having a sound associated with unleashing hell. But, we established earlier that they removed the one from this plane because it was used for sneak attacks in this channel.
Nice big shots of our crew to go with the big image of the plane, all the emotion and tension is right there.
Again, a steady progression of evenly-shaped panels is a solid way to bring the reader through the action. You don’t pause on one more than the others and impede the timing.
HIT! I love how Bob draws explosions. That’s it for you, Nazis. Enjoy the bottom of the sea.
Back to the fact that they are not pros at this, the plane goes down in the water. A lot of times I write the sound effects and then if the art conveys it so that your mind hears a sound anyway, I take them back out. Simon Bowland loves that, he lives to build a sound effect that I just pull back out. Anyway, they work here fine, but looking at it yet again I wish I’d taken them out. I don’t think we needed them. Because Bob made all the splashing tangible.
Our last double page spread so we can see the plane sinking and the already-downed Cruiser, burning and sinking. You get to hear a bit of James hindsight questioning, there’s always things like this people wish they’d done, like grab some life vests. Fortunately the ship they just saved returns the favor.
Reunited with their sub captain, and now we conclude by delving into more traditional James Bond territory – he’s being given a mission that leads into actual spy work. I hope you’ll come back for issue #6, IZABEL, we’re especially proud of it. I’m very happy with how this three-part story landed too. Team Origin showed up ready to play.
If you go to my website, I plan to start putting more process stuff up there soon, jeffparkerwrites.com and also on Twitter, @jeffparker. Bob is on there at @robotJQ and Simon is at @SimonBowland, and Nate Cosby is @NateCosBOOM.