Finally got around to reading Eidolon, and I have to say I’m not feeling the love. Aside from little things like the underwhelming artwork (admittedly, a matter of taste), I had a hard time getting past the endless scenes of nauseating violence. I mean, I get it: James Bond is a killer and the people he fights are killers. But there is so often a lingering, I might even say lustful focus on heads exploding that I have to wonder if Dynamite misinterpreted Bond as a horror franchise. (Though in the interests of full disclosure, I should share that by the end I was almost desensitized to it, to the point where I actually laughed at one image of twin plumes of blood erupting from a bald guy’s temples, making him look like Larry Fine by way of The Walking Dead.)
Again, though, that’s a matter of taste. For all I know Bond fandom is full of people saying, “You know, I like Bond, but I’d like it a lot better if there were more scenes of brains coming out of heads.” But for me, the story itself exists largely as an excuse to get from one violent episode to the next, most of which are confusingly choreographed and sometimes involve actions I’m pretty sure are physically impossible (at least, I hope they are).
Characters don’t fare much better. The females look a bit different to each other and have different occupations, but plot-wise they all get the same role: “Hi, I’m smart and capable and you’re a reprehensible pig, Mr Bond. Let’s shag.” Usually they don’t even wait for him to try and seduce them. Spilling people’s brains on the sidewalk in front of them is aphrodisiac enough.
Bond himself is something of a cypher, a generic hard -ass in expensive suits who could’ve been given any name in the story and it would’ve played out the same. He doesn’t really seem related to the guy Fleming wrote or the guy in the classic films. To some extent, that’s a complaint I have about the Craig films, but at least Craig anchors his Bond with a certain humanity. This guy is just a killing machine; to the extent he has a personality at all, he’s a pr*ck.
His chief adversary is a disillusioned war vet with a scarred face. If there’s any suspense to be foundl, it comes from the fact that he’s as good at killing as Bond, but of course this isn’t the first rodeo for any of us, so the outcome of their grudge match is never in doubt. Bond’s going to take the day, but only because his name’s on the book, not because he’s a “good guy” by any sane person’s definition. Bond is the “hero” because he looks good, the other guy is the villain because he’s disfigured, otherwise they’re the same guy. Again, a criticism often leveled at the films, but made bluntly real in this iteration.
I don’t know, I just feel like there’s a tremendous superficiality to this whole thing, an indulgence in borderline pornographic violence, masquerading as something “ironically post-modern” in its deliberate moral ambivalence. I hesitated for a while to type “pornographic” because I thought it might be over-the-top, but ultimately I decided it’s the perfect word, because just like those little Tijuana Bibles used to be all about getting cartoon characters into sexual situations as quickly as possible, this book has a similar feeling of, “Geez, it’s been two pages already and nobody’s head’s exploded. What a lame book! Oh, no, wait a minute, here it comes…OH, YEAH!”
I think I’ll be giving the rest of the “updated” Dynamite Bond books a miss, but I still have high hopes for the CR adaptation. Won’t buy it without a chance to page through it first, though.