Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dynamite's third 007 spin-off centers on 'M'

With two spin-off comic books released in 2017 by Dynamite Entertainment, one being Felix Leiter, a six-issue miniseries, and the other being Moneypenny, a one-shot, a third entry in the bundle will see the light of the day in February 2018 in a 40-page one-shot format. This time, it centers on the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (better known as MI-6), Miles Messervy – we known him more famously as 'M'.

First appeared in VARGR by Warren Ellis and Jason Masters approximately two years back, this incarnation of M is rather different from the source material as well as those portrayed in the film franchise. Unlike the original Sir Miles Messervy, a full Anglo-Saxon, this version of M is British of African descent, much like Moneypenny herself in the comics as well as the rebooted 007 timeline of the movies. Although, this incarnation of M also happens to play a more prominent role in running the field operations and more personally involved in the bureaucracy of worldwide intelligence politics as well as being an active spymaster rather than placing himself behind the seat of his desk back at the MI-6 headquarters. His real name was not revealed up until Hammerhead by Andy Diggle and Luca Casalanguida.

Evolution of the M character by Dynamite Entertainment
Though, not much is known regarding his background, which is where this one-shot spin-off comic book comes in. Entitled M, the official blurb claims that the story will delve into his past and his time in the field before his ascension to the head of Her Majesty's Secret Service. But, things get rather heated once a traumatic event from his early days in the service comes back to haunt him, which puts him on trail to Belfast where he finds himself in the scene of a crime – His crime. The authors of the comic book are announced to be writer Declan Shalvey and artist P.J. Holden, both of who are from Irish descent, hence the excitement to bring the story onto the streets of Belfast. A place where history has seen more than one could tell.

An image from the interior art by PJ Holden
Writer Declan Shalvey says, "I'm delighted to play around in the Bond playpen for this one-shot. Myself and PJ Holden have talked a lot about what we'd like to see in this story, we want to take a British spy and put him in a world that is both foreign and familiar. Belfast is such a unique place and a really great opportunity to do something different with a Bond character yet will still feel very much of that world. PJ is such a fantastic storyteller, I'm excited to see what he does with this story, being from Belfast himself. I love one-shots, and I know that PJ, along with Dearbhla Kelly are going to make this a beautiful package."

Artist PJ Holden says, "Look I've walked the streets of Belfast checking dead letter drops and wanting to be a super spy since I was 7 years old, I'm pumped and primed for this. Bringing Bond's boss M to Belfast is the job I was born for."

It could safely be said that the title is in safe hands, as Dynamite Entertainment is doing helluva of a job by bringing the James Bond universe to life quite capably than imaginable. The one-shot comic book will be solicited in December later this year among the Diamond Comic Distributors' catalog of the month, with a release date aimed for February 2018.

David Harewood as Francis Warrender in Spooks: The Greater Good
Having said that, I do personally find this incarnation of M the second best next to Bernard Lee's characterization of the part. Being a more hands-on spymaster rather than a deskbound diplomat and a strategist, it gives M credibility of being a very effective crown on the throne of Britain's foreign intelligence agency, who's responsible for neutralizing the foreign threats to the United Kingdom and keeping tabs on his spies closely so they wouldn't muck up their assignments, and especially the 00-Section. If Eon Productions ever were to bring this version of the character to live-action screen, my personal choice of actor would be no other than David Harewood, whose presence in The Night Manager and Spooks: The Greater Good didn't go unnoticed, especially in the latter when there were many parallels of personas with his character, Francis Warrender - himself the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee - that matched with Dynamite's very own M.

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