Dissecting The Body – James Bond #4 Through 6 Wraps Everything Up In Style

by Richard Bruton

After covering James Bond: The Body Issues 1-3, I really wasn’t too sure if it was working or not. The brilliance of that first issue only highlighted the failings of issues 2 & 3. But now the series is done, it’s really ended up being a great series with only a minor dip, and pleasingly, writer Ales Kot has pulled everything together in a totally satisfying fashion through these final issues.
The masterstroke in The Body is in Ales Kot’s storytelling, crafting a story that wends its way through four issues of seemingly disparate threats for Bond to deal with. But, with issue five, effectively the climactic action issue of the series, Kot ties all the individual threads together with a breakneck pursuit across London, Bond in pursuit of the terrorist, desperate to stop a viral attack on the capital.

(James Bond: The Body – Issue 4, art by Eoin Marron)

Again, the character of Bond is something Kot nails, with the man weakened and weary in both issues four and five. Issue four sees a broken Bond once more, tracked by the assassin that he thwarted far too easily, losing blood, knowing death is stalking him. For his saviour to be a mysterious female writer, living far from a society she’s withdrawn from, merely gives Kot a way to force Bond to see his failings, the life he might once have wanted.
For issue five, Bond is still questioning himself, his path, even as he races to track down a terrorist in London. And it’s here that Kot pulls everything in, the beatings, the virus from issue two, the neo-nazis in issue three, the assassin in issue four, everything connects, everything leads to the race against time.

(James Bond: The Body – Issue 5 – art by Hayden Sherman)

And it’s a spectacular race, perfectly paced, Kot and artist Sherman slowing everything down on the page, making the reader pause to absorb the action, yet doing it in such a way as to create speed, tension, and excitement over the 22-pages. And through it all, Kot has Bond analysing himself, finding fault, even as he’s fully on mission. And, just as with the events of issue 1, I particularly enjoyed the moments of pure Bond, the failure to get his man first time, the beating he takes, the indignity of being tasered by local police, all of it portraying Bond as he should be.
The body falters, but the man is dogged, determined, mostly since it’s the only thing he knows what to do, the only thing he can. He is a body trained for violence, to do the bidding of the state, and Kot has absolutely painted a picture of Bond as the blunt instrument, relentless, yet questioning who he might end up being.

(James Bond: The Body – Issue 5 – art by Hayden Sherman)

And then there’s issue 6, the comedown, the debrief, the resolution. Deliberately anti-climactic on Kot’s part, yet perfectly done once more, crafting an issue of basically talking heads as Bond meets Felix Leiter in a London pub, three weeks after the events of issue 5.
Everything is explained, picking up details from the previous five issues and giving them context. It could have been too much, an exercise in over-explaining, but it’s not at all, it’s got the theatre of a Poirot reveal, as Leiter and Bond compare notes and put things together. Watching the room in the background is a fascinating thing, and the way Kot delivers the final punch of the series is wonderfully low-key.

(James Bond: The Body – Issue 6 – art by Luca Casalanguida)

The artist on that final issue is Luca Casalanguida, whose work on the covers has given the series a striking presence on the shelves, and whose work on issue one was a huge part of selling the series to me. His return for issue 6 is a perfect artistic finale, and his Bond is truly a great Bond. But the artists on 4 & 5, Eoin Marron and Hayden Sherman, are also more than up to the tasks set for them by Kot. Everything is just as it should be again, with the artist detailing all the action perfectly, with special mention having to go once more to Sherman’s control of Bond’s pursuit of the terrorist bomber in issue 5.
All in all, James Bond: The Body might have had a couple of issues that failed to convince me, but the overall storyline, and the masterful way Kot pulls everything together with the artistic talents of Casalanguida and Sherman in particular has made this a series to really enjoy.
If you’ve missed any of the issues, I’ve no doubt that Dynamite will be collecting this, and I’d imagine that reading it all in one will actually make the whole far greater than the sum of its parts, with the dips (for me) of issues 2 & 3, subsumed within the greater enjoyment of the overall story.
James Bond: The Body was published by Dynamite Entertainment and was written by Ales Kot. Art for issue 4 was by Eoin Marron, for issue 5 was by Hayden Sherman, and for issue 6 was by Luca Casalanguida. Colors for the series were by Valentina Pinto, letters by Thomas Napolitano, and covers by Luca Casalanguida.

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