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James Bond: Felix Leiter (Ian Fleming's James Bond 007: Felix Leiter) Hardcover – November 28, 2017
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Okay, I've got that out of the way. Felix Leiter was a supporting character in several of the James Bond books and movies. He's even made a couple of appearances in the new comic series. Leiter is currently ex-CIA (he has some medical issues, i.e. - he's missing some limbs and has prosthetics). He now "works" as a private investigator, which is how this book begins. Leiter has been hired by an old acquaintance, Tiger Tanaka (from You Only Live Twice), to find and identify another old acquaintance, Alena Davoff. First, Tanaka is sort of the Japanese James Bond. Second, Leiter and Davoff go back to a joint Russian/American mission involving a war on Afghanistan's heroin trade. There relationship is complicated, to say the least. While he's in Japan, Leiter and Tanaka investigate a biological terror event stemming from a cult. The plot thickens from there.
I've read nearly every Fleming James Bond story and seen nearly every movie, and enjoyed them all on one level or another. However, I found I knew little about Felix Leiter. And I've got to say, I find him an interesting and fun character. The voice Robinson has given him is very much in the old noir detectives style, minus the slang. Leiter is very self-effacing but ready to take on anything. He knows what his strengths are, yet finds he often overestimates his abilities. He is a complicated man, living with the knowledge of the spy he used to be, and the physically broken P.I. he is now. Altogether, this makes him a terrific lead character and narrator.There is also room for character growth, which sets him apart from James Bond.
Robinson also does a nice job fleshing out the supporting characters, like Tanaka and Davoff. They are believable in their abilities and play vital roles in the story. Robinson has also provided a couple of nods to the traditional Bond tale, and has set this story very much in the Bond world of Warren Ellis's comic stories.
Further, because this is a collected edition, there are several bonuses. Various covers are collected in the book, as well as the script to issue #1, and an interview with James Robinson.
To echo my earlier statements, I really enjoyed James Bond: Felix Leiter by James Robinson. It was fun, exciting, and entertaining. I look forward to seeing where this character goes in the future.
I received a preview copy of this book from Dynamite Entertainment and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The writer, James Robinson, who is, I think, is British, does an excellent job of establishing Felix Leiter’s character in the relaunched Bond comic-book world. And as an aside, the main Bond title has been given to an American writer, who also has managed to keep Bond Bond. In the text pages at the back of the book, Robinson makes the observation that Ellis has based his opening volumes on the novels, rather than the film Bond, and that the original Fleming novels could be considered Earth Two, with the new series as Earth One; a good description for those of us old enough to appreciate it.
Anyway, this Leiter is established as a former CIA/special forces operative, former Pinkerton detective, and now a freelance PI, all done in the odd flashback at the appropriate spot in the course of the story unfolding.
Said story opens with the traditional pre-credit sequence, where we find Felix in Japan, hired by Tiger Tanaka (“Japan’s James Bond”) to identify a former Russian agent who Felix has worked with in his Company days – a veritable Black Widow, but not a comic-book one.
A major terrorist attack occurs and soon Felix finds himself drafted in to help with the intelligence gathering – and he makes the point that he was always better at the backroom stuff than the action hero side of things – though that might be part of the (currently) run-down noirish detective persona that he is sporting, and which could be part of an intended long running character-development plot; this is the sort of writer who would be up to something like that.
There are twists and turns, big and small action scenes, international intrigue, and, basically an out and out declaration of which international criminal organisation is poking its tentacles into the plot.
The artwork is really superb, not to labour a point, and the character of Leiter deepens and develops as we go along, and there are flashback scenes involving James Bond, just to remind us who’s who, and who is his own character, going his own way, and not just an American Bond. Play to your strengths, as they say in cards.