James Bond is known for his license to kill, and writer Warren Ellis and artist Jason Masters certainly delivered a killer opening arc on Dynamite Entertainment’s “James Bond” comic book series that began last November. At the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the publisher announced 007 will kill again this June with a new storyline, titled “Eidolon.”
The new arc begins in “James Bond” #7 on June 15, the same day the initial storyline, “Vargr,” is collected in hardcover. Vargr is an Old East Norse word that means ‘wolf,’ ‘evildoer’ or even ‘destroyer.’ All three terms aptly describe Slaven Kurjak, the new Bond villain Ellis created for his opening salvo.
Following the announcement of the new arc, CBR News has the exclusive first interview with Ellis, who spoke about the origins of his take on Bond and revealed which Ian Fleming Bond stories he recommends for readers who want greater insight into his comic stories. He also discusses dreaming up a perfectly absurd name for a Bond Girl but, ultimately, is unlikely to ever use it. Speaking specifically about “Eidolon,” Ellis said a fan-favorite supporting character from Bond’s past will make an appearance in the arc, though it won’t be Ernst Blofeld despite “Eidolon” being heavily steeped in SPECTRE sublimity with sleeper agents primed for an awakening.
CBR News: I loved your first arc on “James Bond,” and I’m certainly not alone in that. Brian K. Vaughan called it “the best contemporary take on 007.” In preparation for your run with Ian Fleming’s secret agent man, did you go back and read the original novels and novellas or were you inspired by a specific actor’s take on the character in film?
Warren Ellis: We have nothing to do with the films. These books emerged from a specific partnership with the Ian Fleming literary estate. This is specifically the James Bond of the books, not the films. When I started, the estate sent me a big box containing every single Fleming novel and novella and I had a fine time re-reading the ones I knew and reading some for the first time. The key to my books is actually in the novellas — you could, if you looked, find the DNA of “Vargr” in “Risico,” for instance.
This is why our Bond doesn’t strongly resemble any of the actors, by the way — Jason [Masters] worked from Fleming’s own description of Bond, the sketch Fleming commissioned by an artist I never learned the name of, and the adaptation of that sketch by the first Bond comics artist, John McLusky.
Beyond “Moonraker,” we don’t get much science-fiction from James Bond but I love what you did with Dharma Reach and Masters and their cyborg-inspired body enhancements. The character of Bond, for me, works so well because he is timeless and able to adapt to any situation — or storyline — but what strengths does he possess to confront what are basically fighting robots?
Well, in the novel “Goldfinger,” Oddjob is almost superhumanly strong without any enhancement. The prosthetics in “Vargr” aren’t especially superhuman, and you can find early versions of them in the press right now. The nature of the threat has to move with the times. What remains the same is Bond is an ordinary man with a small gun throwing himself into insanely lethal situations.
Dynamite has shared solicitation text for your next arc, which is called: “Eidolon.” I turned to Google and found that “eidolon” is ancient Greek for ‘an image or representation of an idea’ or more eerily, a ‘phantom’ or ‘ghost.’ What can you share about the ghost cells of SPECTRE loyalists that await their awakening in “Eidolon”?
Oh, did it give that much away? Damn. [Laughs] I could have told you which novella gave me the idea, but that probably would give the game away. I landed on this while reading Umberto Eco’s last book, “Numero Zero,” which reminded me of Gladio and the ‘stay-behind’ forces embedded in Italy after World War II. I’d been looking for a way to introduce asymmetrical warfare and modern combat conditions into Bond without being too clunky about it — AQ, Daesh, the movement of money, all the stuff that didn’t necessarily pertain when Fleming was writing. Just as “Vargr” was about drugs, a subject Fleming barely grazed.
As this story includes SPECTRE, will we see Ernst Blofeld in “Eidolon?” If not, do you have plans for him and other classic Bond villains like Goldfinger and Le Chiffre in this series or are you planning to stick with original characters like Kurjak?
No. I’m fudging the timeline a little bit. The Fleming estate is on board. SPECTRE is over as a threat at this time in Bond’s life, and Blofeld is gone. This is something new. As I’m working generally within the framework of the books, bringing back characters whom Bond has already planted in the dirt would be a mistake. But I did figure out a way to bring Felix Leiter back into the story, which pleased me. If people want to play science fiction games, that element might even constitute a divergence from the main timeline of the original work. But I am trying to stay focused and faithful in regard to producing a Fleming-like experience.
Because I have to ask, are we going to get a Bond girl in “Eidolon?”
I tend to think of the ‘Bond Girl’ thing as a movie thing, and also kind of dismissive and bullshit. There is usually a female presence in the books, of course, because that’s the nature of Bond himself. “Eidolon” has more female characters than “Vargr,” but I don’t conceive of them as ‘Bond Girls’ per se. Even though I finally came up with a name for a female character that is as ridiculous as any that Fleming amused himself with. So absurd in fact, that I don’t think I can top it, so “Eidolon” might actually be peak Bond for me. [Laughs]
“Eidolon” begins in Dynamite’s “James Bon” #7 on June 15.