Tuesday, December 25, 2018

James Bond comic by Russ Heath and Doug Moench, 1994

This was a one shot James Bond comic published in Dark Horse Comics #25 in 1994.  Too bad it didn't continue because this creative team is an excellent pairing.  Moench is really writing towards Russ Heath's strengths here.  Heath, whose comics career dates back to the 1950's was particularly skilled at drawing airplane and fighter jet scenes.  So much so, that Roy Lichtenstein copied Heath's drawings in some of his paintings which later sold for millions of dollars.  Of course the humble Health never received royalties in any way.  So sad.  I wish Heath did more of these stories aimed at an adult audience.  He later teamed up on a four issue series written by Howard Chaykin called Gladiator for DC/ Wildstorm which was also quite excellent in that it featured Heath's renditions of beautiful women - which he is excels at.  Unfortunately, earlier in his career he did not get to draw so many women when he was basically illustrating war stories that featured men.  Later in his career it is clear that Heath enjoyed drawing sexy women in his work for Warren, The National Lampoon and a wild Iron Fist story that needs to be seen to be believed.

Anyway, back to this particular issue.  Moench's James Bond: Minute to Midnight starts out with an interesting splash page by Heath of a homeless drunk with a wine bottle on a desolate urban street.  A couple of pages later, we find out that this was Bond in disguise.  When he removes his disguise he immediately begins flirting with a female secretary who he later sleeps with.  While he is asleep, it turns out that she too is a spy who double crosses him!

Later when Bond boards a plan, a man gasses him and plans to kill him.  But Bond knocks the man out of the plane, steals his parachute in mid-air and then lands back inside the plane before it crashes.  Within the context of the comic book these unbelievable circumstances do actually seem quite believable due to Heath's parred down but impeccable rendering of this sequence of events.  It is one of the most marvelously constructed action scenes I have ever seen in comics and a testament to Heath's experience and talents.

The episodic story presented in this issue ends on a cliffhanger and really leaves me wanting more of the same.  Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.

All above artwork is by the great late Russ Heath (1926-2018) RIP.

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