[+++ WARNING: Possible spoilers! Buy and read James Bond: Agent of Spectre #3, then come back here for some covert commentary! +++]
Besides the fact that it’s always fun to open with a fight, I wanted to establish that Titania can credibly face Bond in physical combat. She has a military background and owns a security company, so she’s in excellent shape and well trained. Maybe not his equal, Bond being a field agent while she’s more of a boss, but not someone to take lightly, either. Also, it’s canon now: James Bond wears a Kevlar codpiece. I mean, wouldn’t you?
Double and triple crosses are fun. The tricky thing is making sure none of your characters seem stupid, careless or naïve. My take on this is that Bond, Blofeld and Titania don’t trust each other, but have calculated the risk/reward ratio of joining forces and found it acceptable. It also shows they all feel pretty confident about their ability to manage the situation.
I wanted to try to gender-swap a trope of spy fiction here. Especially in the 70s and 80s, it wasn’t unusual for a female agent – both “good” and “evil” – to romance and sleep with a target in order to get information. Often that target was an older and not especially attractive man, and you have to imagine the woman isn’t thrilled about this part of her job, but feels the stakes are worth it. Titania is far from ugly, but is older than Bond and a pretty nasty person, and I wanted to give the impression that even the notorious ladies’ man, James Bond, isn’t thrilled about sleeping with someone he finds reprehensible, but is making the sacrifice “for Queen and country” as they say. So it’s not always Pussy Galore or Corporal Tatiana Romanova.
More of the games of trust and manipulation, this time between Bond and Blofeld, plus Bond wanting a shower as another way to show he wasn’t enjoying himself with Titania. Keep an eye on the scratches on Bond’s back…they’re not there just to show things got wild between the sheets.
Come on, you didn’t really think Felix Leiter was dead! Or that Bond had killed him! I was trying to play fair with the reader: yes, Bond DID shoot Leiter, but it was to save his life. He felt Leiter’s chances of survival were greater with himself, being a crack shot, grazing Leiter’s skull than Titania getting a center head shot. And scalp wounds really do bleed a great deal without being life threatening. That’s the basis of the old pro wrestling trick of “getting color” or using a tiny razor to make a small cut that bleeds like crazy and makes the crowd feel like the match is really brutal. I very much enjoyed writing the part where Felix calls out Bond on their bromance. Bond is far too British to not be uncomfortable by that. But it’s true.
Next issue: the story moves to Greece, where I used to live back when I was a kid, and we have the craziest action set pieces yet! Don’t miss it!
James Bond: Agent of Spectre #3