Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dynamite Entertainment Presents 'M'

Every intelligence agency is run by a spymaster who's qualified to last in the business long enough to know how things are tackled, strategized, delivered and organized in full form without any leak of a whole, preferably, to be compromised for the benefit of the opponents. SHIELD has Nick Fury, The Circus has George Smiley, and the most recognizable of them all, Her Majesty's Secret Service has 'M'. A codename for the head of the British Intelligence (or MI-6 in the later films) in the James Bond universe, given to various people over the years, with Ian Fleming's original incarnation remaining Vice-Admiral Sir Miles Messervy.
Comic books publisher, Dynamite Entertainment, has been running the Bond saga in the department since November 2015, with many entries poured under their belt as well as spin-offs centering on characters other than James Bond himself. Felix Leiter had his six-issue miniseries, last year, Moneypenny had her one-shot, and now M gets to have his. Quite a satisfying one, at that, delivered by creators Declan Shalvey and P.J. Holden.

M begins with the debriefing of a rather disastrous mission conducted by one smug and reckless Agent 005 who caused mayhem in Belfast by blowing up an entire building and causing the deaths of innocent civilians while, in a manner, succeeding in accomplishing his objective by bringing an unnamed Duchess to safety. Of course, it's always assumed that some operatives join the world of espionage on for their own thrill of the chase without having respect nor care for anybody else other than glorification of their own. Those smug agents always end up dead in fiction, paving the way in for a specific protagonist to takeover and right the wrong of their predecessors in the shoes. 005 is the sort of agent who has a target on his back, but has not been heard of, since M knocked him off his chair and kicked him out of his office.

Shortly after the debriefing, M receives a palette of a message only he himself recognizes - a piece of ammunition. Without losing any moment, he decides to take a leave and head to Belfast where it was revealed he had been awfully familiar with the region as well as carrying memories that haunt him to every end. Memories that date back to the Troubles, which incidentally, the film franchise's current counterpart, Lieutenant-Colonel Gareth Mallory, also had spent sometime and had experience of the dreadful period. Unarmed in a region where problem could easily bring harm to one's life, M barges in directly to a pub where he meets an old acquaintance. An acquaintance from his past with a bundle of unpleasant encounters he has had with, which dates back to his days in Belfast during the Troubles.

Samuel "Sammy" Wells is the man sought for, an elderly man by now, who used to be young Miles' commanding officer in Belfast back in the day, now retired, who has a leverage on M that is punishable by crime if revealed. Unless M delivers him a list of legally pardoned IRA members - pardoned due to the Good Friday Agreement - Sammy will expose his secret to the public which will be putting the head of the British Intelligence in a pickle he could hardly get out of: A murder. A murder he did not mean to commit but was tricked to pulling the trigger on a presumed IRA informant who was meant to be shot with a rubber bullet as opposed to a lethal cartridge.

Without throwing too much spoilers into the open, it's best to resort to describing the one-shot comic rather than narrating it. M is very much a decent spy thriller that does not involve nor even feature the character of James Bond, anywhere. Starring in a title of his own, M proves that he is a very worth spymaster who can think on his feet and outsmart the opponent using the skills of a master strategist he acquired over the years, isn't afraid to apply his use of variable types of combat on his enemies, and holds on his own rather well without the need of any agent or a bodyguard in his disposal, which is why it makes the character worthy of the spin-off he was given.

David Harewood
This one-shot comic book, M, is a welcome addition to the Dynamite-published Bond comics, narrating a story set in the universe 007 moves around, yet it isn't a pastiche of an adventure that would copy a James Bond thriller. It's nothing groundbreaking, to be honest, but it's definitely not an average entry in the franchise, either. The reader would definitely feel the vigorous character with poise that M is, which would beg the question whether there'd be any feature-length spin-offs planned for the character with proper execution.

With all the constant talk of the 'Bondverse', a common ground for separate films that share, a "universe" originally conceived by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, striking to utmost popularity that every film industry tried to copy ever since. There's been a talk - though unconfirmed - that Eon Productions might initiate a 'Bondverse', which is, frankly speaking, unlikely, given the way they operate. But, if they ever do, I'd like to see M get his one-off film where he goes to solve a problem no one ever could. Either with Ralph Fiennes in the role of Gareth Mallory, or Dynamite's incarnation of Miles Messervy/M come to life, preferably played by David Harewood, who's the most suited actor for the job, both acting and looks-wise as well as the mannerisms. See Spooks: The Greater Good and The Night Manager for his brilliant performances, albeit as a supporting character in both.

M is supposed to be collected in a series of one-shots entitled James Bond Case Files Vol. 1, which also includes Moneypenny as well as titles starring Bond: Service and Solstice, set to come out on 17th of July 2018, later this year.

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