James Bond: Felix Leiter; #6
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Colors: Salvatore Aiala
Letters: Simon Bolland
Cover: Mike Perkins and Andy Troy
Review by PeteR
James Bond: Felix Leiter issue #6 is the final installment of what will hopefully be the first of many miniseries, chronically the adventures of Felix Leiter. Felix Leiter is a participant in the James Bond franchise, who works for the C.I.A. and always conveniently pops up to help Bond when he needs it. One of the primary reasons I really appreciated Dynamite’s James Bond: Felix Leiter title is, I could completely relate to the main character. Leiter had a high paying job full of excitement and travel. He was considered to be good at his vocation and he derived a lot of his self-worth from it. In the novel Live and Let Die (and the movie License to Kill) Felix, after being mauled by a shark, loses his right arm, his left leg, his job and his pride. He is no longer the man he used to be and believes his best days are clearly in the past. The future holds no real value for him. All he has are his memories and a failing storefront private investigation practice.
Chances are, if you are over the age of thirty-five, you have probably felt similar to this at some point in your life.
Leiter, is hired by C.I.R.O. (the Japanese version of the C.I.A.) to identify Alena Davoff, a beautiful Russian agent he had a relationship with while fighting in Afghanistan. Davoff is now somehow involved with a nerve gas attack in downtown Tokyo. She has also succeeded in wiping all trace of herself from all data banks so there are no pictures of her, hence the need for Felix as he is the only person who knows what she looks like. C.I.R.O.’s top spy, Tiger Tanaka convinces Felix to stay on and assist in discovering the who and why of the terrorist attack
I have previously raved about James Robinson’s writing. I didn’t care if it was for Leave it to Chance, Golden Age, Starman or his run on the Fantastic Four, his writing has always fascinated me. James Bond: Felix Leiter, the mini-series, was the first time, though I felt like Robinson was writing for me. At one point, in issue #6, Felix is reflecting on what he feels was his meager contribution to the mission and thinks, “And I wasn’t completely useless.” At another point Leiter is fighting a large angry Russian who has invaded his hotel room. In the midst of the battle, Felix muses that to survive means; “’Course, I gotta stay on my feet. You need this to remind yourself you’re not stuck in the passenger seat of your own life.” I know I can’t be the only person who has felt like that. (No, not the fighting giant Russian thugs’ part)
The art by Aaron Campbell in James Bond: Felix Leiter has a terrifically cinematic tone to it. In issue #5, there is an amazing three page scene that tracks the choreography of both Leiter and Tiger Tanaka as they invade the villain’s fortress. It is a fabulous homage to the running rooftop battle in the movie version of You Only Live Twice. Campbell’s depiction of Felix, as he’s swimming for his life after being tossed overboard into the ocean, is the closest I ever want to get to drowning. You can virtually taste the invading salt water from the artwork.
As good as Aaron Campbell’s art is, Salvatore Aiala’s coloring completes the vivid filmic sense of the comic. His use of palate to highlight the neon lights of Tokyo at night, during a rain storm is dynamic. In James Bond: Felix Leiter issue #6, Aiala’s transition from a scene amidst a murky blizzard in Helsinki to a radiantly sunny day on a beach makes the reader feel like they fell into a luxurious travel guide.
Why you should buy this book? I am not trying to imply that James Bond: Felix Leiter issues #1 through 6 are maudlin. Quite the opposite. Felix’s portrayal is heartfelt and the emotions feel real. His journey to find his self-respect is believably charted in this series. In the novels, James Bond has little actual personal depth. To quote “M”, he is “a blunt instrument”. The closest Bond ever achieves to real emotion in the books is in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when his wife, Tracy dies. Not so in James Bond: Felix Leiter
I have focused a great deal on the emotional aspects of James Bond: Felix Leiter. Have no fear, there is plenty of action and intrigue. You have knife fights, gun fights, sword fights and a couple of impressive beatings. The mystery of who is using a horrifically advanced form of nerve gas on Japan crosses an international spectrum. Robinson, Campbell, Aiala and letterer Simon Bowland channel the best aspects of Ian Fleming and John Gardner’s novels as well as the visual excitement of the movie franchise.
The Felix Leiter series ends with enough of a cliff hanger to warrant another series. If Dynamite chooses to publish a second installment, I would absolutely purchase it.
Issue #6, the final installment of James Bond: Felix Leiter is scheduled to be available June 17th, 2017.
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