World Comic Book Review

2nd March 2024

The Secret Lives of Dead Men: Brubaker’s Velvet, the James Bond mythos, and the Spectre of Ian Fleming

The Secret Lives of Dead Men Brubaker's Velvet

Ed Brubaker’s comic book Velvet (Image Comics, 2015) sees the writer again explore gritty realism in a strong female character, albeit this time channelling the violent charm and loose sex of Ian Fleming.

Fleming wrote a series of novels in the 1950s and 60s featuring James Bond, an English spy, world-saver, and womaniser- those priorities sometimes in jumbled order. These novels have spawned thirty-two movies, becoming one of the world’s most successful character franchises. One of the more enduring supporting members of the cast was Miss Moneypenny, the secretary to Bond’s boss, M.

In the novel Thunderball, Fleming wrote that Moneypenny “often dreamed hopelessly about Bond.” Moneypenny’s primary function is to frame Bond as an object of desire. She is less than the inevitable Bond girl, the object of desire of the audience and Bond’s inevitable conquest – Moneypenny is merely a prop. The character doesn’t have much of a purpose otherwise in the novels, and not much more than that in the movie series until the 2007 continuity reboot, the second Casino Royale.

Wired Magazine’s review of Velvet makes the fundamental error of assessing the comic as “Bond imagined as a secretary”. The concept is instead more subtle than that. Brubaker makes that clear by having a spy who vastly resembles Bond on the receiving end of a shotgun within the first three pages of the very first serialised issue.

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The Sandman: Overture (review) and the Elves That Come in the Night – Why Comic Book Release Dates Matter

Gaiman’s Sandman Overture and the Elves That Come in the Night

In an interview with CNN, writer Neil Gaiman said, “The biggest pitfall to avoid is not writing. Not writing is really, really easy to do, especially if you’re a young writer. The hope that elves will come in the night and finish it for you, is a very common one to have. That is my main recommendation. You have to write, and you have to finish what you write and beyond that, it’s all detail.”

The first issue of The Sandman: Overture was released in November 2013.

In March 2014, Vertigo announced, a day after the delayed second issue of the six-part miniseries hit shelves, the series will be published as one issue every few months, instead of the bi-monthly publishing schedule first promised.

Issue #2 was delayed from a December release to a February, and was released in March 2014. Mr Gaiman noted on Tumblr:

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The Smasher of Thousands

“The Dying & The Dead” 1
Image Comics, January 2015
Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Review by DG Stewart, 6 January 2015

This comic, written by Jonathan Hickman, features about a third of the way into the first issue an assembled cult of ostensible villains, shouting the words “Bah al sharur!” at their leader. According to Wikipedia, “”Sharur”, which means “smasher of thousands” is the weapon and mythic symbol of the god Ninurta. Sumerian mythic sources describe it as an enchanted talking mace. It has been suggested as a possible precursor for similar objects in other mythology such as Arthurian lore.”

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Sidekick Lost

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier Volume 1 – The Man on the Wall
Marvel Comics, October 2014
Writer: Alec Kot

Marvel Comics, an American publisher of predominantly superhero themed comic books, is almost certainly lost on what to do with its character The Winter Soldier. A legacy child sidekick character written to have died in World War Two, and thereby providing a tragic backdrop to Captain America’s fight against evil, the character was revived and then served as a substitute Captain America in 2013. Once the original Captain America returned from the dead and resumed his name and costume, what to do with the Winter Soldier? This problem was especially pronounced by the success of the movie “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” released in April 2014. Interested and new readers might like the character and want to buy a title featuring its adventures.

When the star of the show returns, the understudy quietly leaves the stage. The challenge is to do this with finesse, to repurpose the character in a way which preserves its fundamental integrity. Marvel Comics decided, oddly, to place the character in space, serving as an intergalactic assassin and agent provocateur. It makes no sense having regards to the character’s history and does not work.

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