Jeff Parker's Writer's Commentary on James Bond: Origin #8, on sale now from Dynamite.
Page 1- We pick back up on The Matroyshka, a merchant ship under command of Captain Vasily, where his men are giving young James a friendly Russian welcome down in the hold. James has just found a big pile of gold that Vasily had claimed to trade for supplies to a Norwegian ship before it was reported sunk.
Page 2- James is quietly taking in details of the Soviet merchant ship as they escort him to the deck in his skivvies. That's a big trait of Bond, he's always observing what might be useful later.
On deck, it's clearly freezing. They want James to reveal if he's sent here as a spy and what he knows about their operation. It's a precarious situation as the USSR is now supposed to be on the Allies' side, as of very recently.
Page 3- As that wave washes over the deck, I can feel my bones turn to ice. That's a good job by Ibrahim and Michael Garland. But it gives James just enough time to grab something useful — he's already whacked Yuri with the chain, and it's coming at the other goon.
Page 4- It's nice to have a coat, isn't it? James heads back down, and yes, right back to that radio room. Don't leave a fire extinguisher around, Bond WILL use it as a weapon. It should probably be colored metallic though.
Page 5 – James gets out his distress call, as clearly as he can make it. No time for codes, as he says. He's hailing his own ship, The Boudica, before he's found out and lights out.
Page 6- Fans of Bond movies will probably recognize the tradition of James being knocked out yet waking up to lovely ladies, and this might be the first now. That's Oksana, and we can only wonder if she's as smitten with James as she acts. As she says, they are in the coastal city of Murmansk, in the Soviet Union.
Page 7- Poor James, stuck in a nice hotel room with a huge comfortable bed. This of course should be a stark contrast to what his life in the military has been so far, crammed in bunks in submarines and so forth. It's the kind of manipulation he'll face in the future quite a bit.
Page 8- Note: James, unlike practically the rest of his countrymen, prefers coffee to tea. This is a practice mentioned by Fleming and an influence of his Aunt Charmian. It's also a detail that Ibrahim Moustafa never forgets so I had to get it in there.
We have flashback to James' training with "V" who got him up to speed on foreign languages. She mainly focused on German and French, which would seem to be what he would need the most in WW2. So as you'll see in the rest of the story, he's somewhat at a loss since he's in the USSR. Anyway, the real lesson here is that V is reminding him of not being quick to trust a friendly face.
Page 9- Here's where we get to use the strength of comics storytelling, and look inside James' thought process as he interacts with Oksana. It's one of those times where we can emulate the novels a bit more. James is doing mental chess, trying to figure out what he can and should say.
Page 10 – Fortunately, James is quite clever. I like how Ibrahim isolates their hand-holding in panel 3.
Page 11- Now James meets the enigmatic "Yegor." He seems to be important in rank, but we can't tell what his station is. He has a rain slicker over any uniform that might give more detail, and doesn't let James know anything about his rank. All intentional, in case James makes it back to Britain so he doesn't have enough useful intel on these Soviets.
Page 12 – The most terrifying place on any continent, the doctor's office. And surprise! An INJECTION.
Page 13- 14-15 – I love this scene, Moustafa dives into the weirdness of showing us what it's like from James' perspective as his brain starts to lose control. Yegor is trying to rearrange things and introduce new "facts" in James' memory. This is something Fleming alluded to in the novels too, the concept of brainwashing was coming around at this time.
Page 16- Hey, maybe Oksana is not so bad…
Page 17- And now we start to get into truly scary territory, whenever a drill is fired up. The practice of lobotomy was coming into light at this time too, and James is clearly not too keen on it!
Page 18 – A lucky break, and only in James Bond's life is a bomb blast outside a lucky break.
Page 19- Good storytelling as always by Ibrahim, James working his way out of this place, only to find …
Page 20: … WAR! The Germans and Finnish are attacking because this is the time of Operation Silver Fox. It was an ongoing effort for months. Probably even more disorienting if you were just injected with mind-altering drugs. But at least now James has a fighting chance to make it to part 3!