Greg Pak, best known for his Big Two work but also the creator of some of the best-reviewed comics here at ComicBook.com over the last few years, including Code Monkey Save World and Mech Cadet Yu (both with artist Takheshi Miyazawa), heads to Dynamite next month to pit 007 against Oddjob in the publisher's latest ongoing James Bond 007 comics.
The series, which launches in the fall, will begin by pitting Bond against a familiar and iconic villain, first introduced in the 1959 novel Goldfinger: Oddjob.
"When editor Nate Cosby first approached me about writing a James Bond book, I immediately thought about Oddjob, the Korean assassin who's one of Bond's most beloved villains, and pitched a story in which we'd revisit the character from his own point of view, as the hero of his own story," Pak told ComicBook.com. "In the novel Tripmaster Monkey, Maxine Hong Kingston's lead character talks about Oddjob, saying that 'A face as big as Odd Job's should star on the Cinerama screen for the audience to fall in love with, for girls to kiss, for the nation to cherish, for me to learn how to hold my face. Take seven pictures of a face, take twelve, twenty of any face, hold it up there, you will fall in love with it.' I thought that was incredibly powerful when I read it years ago. And it blows my mind that we're getting the chance to hold this new version of Oddjob's face up to the world in an official James Bond book like this for the whole world to fall in love with. He's big and fun and cocky and passionate and might end up being Bond's greatest rival and ally -- or maybe his most deadly enemy."
The series, which takes place in the same continuity as the previous ongoing from writer Warren Ellis, already has a year's worth of stories mapped out, with the idea that as long as it is a success, Pak is game for more -- with a game-changing reveal planned for the fifth issue that could change how fans view the series long before the year is out.
The property, of course, is one of the most beloved and storied in American cinema, and while the movies certainly inform anybody's take on Bond nowadays, it's worth remembering that the character starred in a series of novels which serve as the source material for both the films and the comics.
"I grew up during the heyday of Roger Moore's Bond, so the movies left a huge impact on me as a kid," Pak admitted. "But as an adult, I've been reading the novels, which are the original source material for the comics, so in my current writing, the prose is very much in my head."
Pak, of course, is no stranger to telling stories that come with a lot of baggage and expectations. He has done years' worth of work on characters like Superman and the Incredible Hulk -- and even his oddball Code Monkey Save World graphic novel was based on characters created by musician Jonathan Coulton in his music. Even Pak can see, though, that Bond is a little different.
"I had a bit of a revelation when I actually started writing the book when I realized how much of what makes Bond so fun has permeated action adventure storytelling," Pak said. "This glorious combo of sci fi and spy thriller, the dry humor, the emphasis on a cool professional doing the impossible, the joy of mind-blowing action set pieces... all of that has a ton in common with a lot of the superhero books I've written over the years. But writing a Bond book is a special, refreshing challenge because he's not a superhero. He doesn't have superpowers and neither do his opponents. So especially in comics form, there's a great challenge to make the action visceral and real and visually thrilling even without costumes and powers. The trick is to find brilliant artists like Marc Laming who can draw folks in real-world clothes and make them as exciting as any superhero while keeping everything utterly real."
Laming, who is drawing at least the first arc, is leaving a mark on the book as he goes; Pak told ComicBook.com that while he writes full-script style, "Marc is bringing his own vibe and smarts to every page and panel. He sends in layouts that editor Nate Cosby and I get to eyeball. I really don't say that much -- I'm mostly just watching the show unfold and cheering from the sidelines."
Laming has also been sharing teases on Twitter, which Pak says are worth checking out.
While Pak has had a line on some of the most mainstream characters in comics, his success has allowed him to introduce and elevate a number of Asian or Asian-American characters in his book, helping to expand the worldview of the Marvel and DC Universes -- and arguably of mainsteam comics as a whole. The more he has become known for it, the more it seems to shape his work.1comments
"I grew up at a time when American media was chock full of stereotypical and racist depictions of Asians and Asian Americans," Pak said. "Throughout my career as a storyteller, I've made a point of including characters of all different backgrounds in my stories, with a special emphasis on elevating non-stereotypical, three dimensional Asian American characters. The point isn't to create role models or perfect paradigms; the point is just to have a wide variety of folks representing the real wide variety of folks in the real world. I'm particularly loving this book because our new version of Oddjob has big, fun flaws and is driven by passion more than anything else, which is the kind of role I'd love to see Asian actors get in Hollywood more often. Bond's the consummate professional, always determined to do his job, whatever it is. Our new guy provides a huge contrast to that -- as we'll discover, he's got a huge emotional story that motivates him in big, surprising ways. That complexity makes him so much fun to write."
James Bond 007 #1 will be available in stores and online this November.