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The three previous issues of Dynamite’s 007 miniseries “Hammerhead” delivered sleek, stylish and lethal 007 action, and after the third issue ended with a killer cliffhanger, James Bond – Hammerhead #4 doesn’t disappoint at all. Writer Andy Diggle and artist Luca Casalanguida succeed in escalating the already high stakes of the story, while simultaneously adding twists and turns that serve the world’s greatest secret agent as well as he deserves.
When we last left 007, he had been captured in Yemen in a fiery car wreck while on a mission to track down Kraken, a shadowy anti-capitalist terrorist with designs on Hammerhead, a new British WMD. This issue finds Bond faced with finding a way out of captivity, while M and Moneypenny attend a secret meeting that may lead to more than they expect.
Where this miniseries has the ongoing title beat is in its approach to the central character, which accentuates the cold ruthlessness of the character in the Fleming novels and contrasts it with his stylish and charming veneer. This mini doesn’t feel miles away from the current Daniel Craig iteration, but I never got the sense the creative team is trying to ape the film series either. This does in fact feel like a solid match to the tone and strengths of the original novels, even as it embraces a wide-screen, blockbuster approach to its actions scenes.
James Bond – Hammerhead #4 is very well-structured, with the narrative divided between 007’s predicament, and M and Moneypenny’s. The Bond sections are tight and paced at a quick clip, packed with action and two set pieces that I wouldn’t call major, but do deliver the thrills you expect from 007. The other narrative seems more cursory or expository in nature at first, which it is, but it soon delivers twists and turns of it own, culminating in a great cliffhanger that beats the one that closed the third issue.
Diggle’s approach to Bond himself is pitch-perfect. There’s a wit on display here that is charming but never arch or casual. 007 doesn’t feel indestructible, but he is formidable and capable and lethal, and in that way the script makes a character that we all know and are hugely familiar with feel contemporary and interesting. He doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel or add complexity, but just lets Bond be Bond in a real way, and it works.
If there’s a flaw to the issue, I’d have to say it’s in the way the plot has a couple of turns that don’t really surprise. Aside from a cliffhanger that is a novel twist, there are a couple of other reveals that feel pretty familiar. I wouldn’t say they hurt the story too much, but if you’ve seen a James Bond movie, read one of the books, or seen an action movie….ever…really, then most of what happens here won’t surprise you. But the rest of the story is enjoyable and and the action works so well that the familiar twists hardly matter.
Casalanguida’s art continues to impress. There’s a classical style here, very European, that effectively communicates both the elegance and the action of a Bond story. Even though there’s no elegant settings to this issue per se, Casalanguida’s keen eye for moody atmosphere ensures that the story retains its sleek stylishness throughout.
James Bond – Hammerhead #4 continues to cement my opinion that this is the best 007 book on the stands right now, and for fans of the character or just a solid action story, you can’t ask for more. 8.5/10
James Bond – Hammerhead #4 will be released January 18, 2017