Review: James Bond: M

Review by David Ferguson

Art by PJ Holden and Dearbhla Kelly
Written by Declan Shalvey
Lettering by Simon Bowland
Cover by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire

Growing up, James Bond was one of those franchises that I followed a lot as one of the movies was generally on every Saturday night. We had action with Sean Connery, over the top silliness with Roger Moore, grittiness with Timothy Dalton, mad gadgets with Pierce Brosnan (who I don’t count) and back with grittiness with Daniel Craig. The current gritty world of James Bond tries to set the character in more of a real world spy situation so, writer, Declan Shalvey linking Bond’s boss M to The Troubles in Northern Ireland is no real leap if you think about it. That comment is in no way meant to take away from the idea. I mean it to highlight his cleverness in coming up with the concept in the first place. Writing about The Troubles can be a difficult and delicate balance (which is probably why we never saw it on screen to my recollection) but Declan manages to incorporate it in a way that is balanced and plays to the story he is trying to tell. An enhancement to this is the addition of an artist in PJ Holden whose style, I feel, is really suited to this kind of story. PJ was born to draw realistic down in the dirt gritty stories and his art plays well with the shadowy nature of the world of the spy. The book being mostly set in Belfast helps as he is drawing what he knows. Being paired with a talented colourist like Dearbhla Kelly does a lot to bring out the best in his art too. The cover work, as usual from this team, is exemplary as Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire come up with an image that mixes the shadowy world of M the spy and Belfast. A cover that really peaks your interest.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot but it is about M’s past in Northern Ireland coming back to haunt him. Declan comes up with a realistic back story that does a lot to flesh out the character of M so he becomes more than a man behind the desk pulling strings. I haven’t read Dynamite’s Bond books at all before this (the creative team drew me in) but I like this take on the M character and I hope the creative team gets to do more in this world. I’m hoping that this book doesn’t fly under peoples’ radars. A must for Bond fans. Everybody else should try it too.