Dynamite Entertainment's James Bond comic book series is receiving a new creative team. In December, writers Danny Lore and Vita Ayala will relaunch the series with returning artist Eric Gapstur, and featuring covers by Jim Cheung. The two writers have been friends for a decade, with a mutual love for Ian Fleming's gentleman super-spy. James Bond marks their biggest collaboration together as co-writers
In an interview with CBR, Ayala and Lore shared what appeals to them about the iconic character and what they plan to bring to the enduring mythos.
CBR: How do we find James Bond at the start of the run?
Danny Lore: James is up to his usual antics -- we start out with a hint of where that’s landed him! From there, he’s pulling together the threads of a mission that end up crossing paths with the art fraud that one of our new characters, Brandi Keyes, is looking into.
Vita Ayala: We find him confident that he is in control and also a bit bored. But both those things change rather quickly...
What made you want to open up your run with a mission centered on art forgery?
Ayala: I think escalation in spy stories is important for the pacing, and starting off with something that is fun and has stakes but not a world ending scenario is a clean way to introduce. And the idea of taking events that don’t seem like they are connected to anything and revealing them to be at the center of something big is a big part of what makes spy stories compelling.
Lore: I’ve always been fascinated with forgery and the detail work involved in making successful ones. From paintings to wine to currency and beyond... there’s so much risk and time and research involved in this kind of crime. Because of all of that, detecting forgeries also involves a level of academic knowledge and/or unique tools. When discussing the kinds of stories we wanted to tell in our arc, we thought forgery was the perfect world in which we could get big and splashy like a Bond story, while at the same time crafting a story that requires Bond to get a couple of helping hands.
You two have been friends for some time. What is your collaborative process like as co-writers on this title? What made James Bond the right property to team up together for?
Ayala: Almost ten years for Danny and me! Feels like the blink of an eye and a lifetime. For this book, we got together and did a lot of REALLY detailed environment, prep, and outlining work. We have pages by pages of eight issues or something like that. Really intense. From there, Danny takes first passes at scripts and I take notes and further passes. I don't know anyone else on this planet that loves James Bond more than Danny. Their passion not just for James himself, but the rest of the characters and their world, is deep. I would not want to write this with anyone else.
Lore: Our process involves a lot of tea, cats, and making sure the cats don’t knock over the tea. We spend a lot of time in person, going back and forth, riffing off the bits of story that most interest us at the time. Then one of us pulls that together into an outline and we go back and forth on that -- as many times as necessary -- until we like what we end up with.
Often times we trade off on who takes the first pass on an issue, but this time Vita and I decided that I’d take first pass, and that Vita would jump in on edits. Part of that comes out of my being such a massive Bond nerd and really enjoying turning those scripts over to Vita; the other part of it is that Vita is killer at pacing, at taking what I’ve worked on and making it a snappy, smooth piece that really feels like a Bond script.
What makes Eric Gapstur and Roshan Kurichiyanil, along with Ariana Maher, the right art and lettering team for the job?
Lore: So what’s amazing about working with Eric, Rosh and Ariana is that they’ve already got such an amazing visual language worked out after working on [current writer Greg Pak's] run. They are all at the top of their game, bringing both the slickness of Bond with a little bit of the campiness of some other interpretations. Knowing you’re working with a trio of that caliber means knowing that if you decide to pivot tonally, or get a little more experimental, that’s okay. You’re constantly working to build scripts that let them work at max level!
Ayala: Eric has worked on Bond before, and not only is he an incredible artist, but he knows the character and the world very well. We are lucky to be on his team! Rosh has an amazing sense of drama and intensity. He has a head for knowing exactly how to evoke different emotions with his palettes, how to be subtle and when to explode! And Ariana is a straight up genius, and any team is blessed to have her!
James Bond can be perceived as a much more complicated character than when he was first introduced. Will this be reflected at all in your stories?
Ayala: That is one of our goals! We want to show why we love James so much, and peel back the layers so we get to some parts of him that rarely see the light of day.
Lore: I think [increased complexity occurs for long-running properties], especially if multiple creators get to add to the canon. Every creator who works on Bond has their specific points of interest, the different bits of Bond that resonate with them. When you add the fact that a new creator will always be in a different place than the world was (culturally, politically, etc) when Fleming started writing the 007 stories, and complexity (or at least change) is always part of the game.
Vita and I aren’t looking to tell a story of a tortured-soul secret agent, but the world [that] marches on alongside James Bond stories.
What does James Bond mean to each of you? Why is the character so timeless after all these decades?
Lore: James Bond is slick efficiency and the dark embodiment of cool. As readers, I think a lot of us keep coming back to his competency, to the way the world can literally burn around him and he’ll still look more put together than I ever will on my best day! You know he’s going to get the woman -- if he’s interested -- you know he’s going to land the shot, or if he doesn’t, he’ll land a cooler one in a minute, and that he’s never going to be at a loss for words. He’s control and cool all bottled up into one, and I’m always excited to read that!
Ayala: To me, James Bond is a complicated character. He enacts violence, sometimes has to kill and do other Very Bad Things, but he does them for the greater good. He has a moral code of his own and he sticks to it. He has lost a lot and is wounded deeply by that. He's also the smoothest operator on the planet.
I think James is timeless because the idea of being a sin eater is timeless. He does these difficult things so we don't have to. He saves the world over and over again, puts himself (body and spirit) in danger so we can sleep soundly in our beds. That is never not going to be compelling. Also, I mean, he is the coolest. Cool will ALWAYS be timeless.
Expanding on that, what did you both want to uniquely bring to inject new life into the venerable super-spy and his espionage-tinged world?
Ayala: I think what we brought were new scenarios, new allies and new enemies. I think what keeps things fresh is finding things James hasn't had to deal with or escape (or kill) before, and dropping him into the deep end of things. Watching him adapt is always a thrill, and we wanted to give him plenty to play off of.
Lore: I think that, with both the introduction of our new characters and the use of the art world, both of us wanted to challenge ourselves to expand the world of the classic super-spy. It’s something that feels impossible, because how on earth do you expand the world of a globetrotting MI6 agent, right, short of going to the moon (don’t do that, it doesn’t go well!). But one of the things that keeps us coming back to stories about Bond is how he’s confronted with impossible situations and still comes out on top, so it’s only right that we attempt to do that on the writing side.
James Bond #1 is written by Vita Ayala and Danny Lore and illustrated by Eric Gapstur. It is scheduled to go on sale this December from Dynamite Entertainment.