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After an initial 007 miniseries written by Warren Ellis that I didn’t like much at all, I’m pleased to say that this miniseries, written by Andy Diggle with art by Luca Casalanguida, absolutely nails the tone and thrills of Ian Fleming’s classic Bond novels, albeit updated for the 21st Century. James Bond – Hammerhead #3 is sleek, cool and lethal, all attributes any 007 adventure needs to have in spades. The result is an issue, and a series overall, that wouldn’t feel out of place next to the Fleming books on your shelf, even as it fits in perfectly with the better Bond films.
The issue finds 007 in Yemen, tracking down a sinister organization known as Kraken who has recently targeted a British weapons manufacturing company. This culminates in their downing of a British Royal Navy helicopter and the theft of a Trident missile. The issue finds a grimly determined Bond (himself a naval officer, of course) single-mindedly tracking doing Yemeni mercenaries in an attempt to gain access to Kraken’s network. Of course, he exercises his license to kill and finds himself in action against a host of foes as things go from bad to worse.
While Diggle crafts a story that feels almost like an archetypal Bond story (shadowy bad guys, globe-trotting, sexy female ally/lover/possible double agent, stolen nuclear missile) he knows exactly how to pitch the intrigue so that it straddles the line between thrilling and ridiculous, as the best Bond stories so often do. Diggle also adds an interesting wrinkle that sees Kraken positioned as sophisticated from a technological view, so that one of 007’s most reliable assets, namely his remarkable gadgets, can be turned against him. This added touch bestows a stripped-down vulnerability upon the super-spy that is really effective. The story for the issue never slackens its pace for an instant, but doesn’t feel rushed either, the result being a perfectly structured action-packed issue.
Luca Casalanguida’s art is a major asset in this area. The European style emphasizes the inherent sophisticated and sleek tone necessary for a Bond story. His 007 is straight out of the Fleming novels; tall, dark and handsome, yet ruthless and somewhat cold. Fleming himself gave Hoagy Carmichael as the inspiration for Bond’s look, and Casalanguida seems to have used that as a starting point, and then took off all the roundness, creating a Bond that looks carved out of granite. The final third of the issue is a great action set piece that is just fantastically done; you can practically Monty Norman’s immortal theme playing as you read it.
The creative team has really hit James Bond – Hammerhead #3 out of the park, and anyone who loves any iteration of 007 will be immensely satisfied with this series as whole so far. With a smart and lethal Bond in the driver’s seat, up against a compelling threat, “Hammerhead” is a story blessed with great writing and top notch art that has earned its license to kill. 9/10