BENJAMIN PERCY talks JAMES BOND #3, on sale in MAY!

BENJAMIN PERCY talks JAMES BOND #3, on sale in MAY from Dynamite!

BYRON BREWER: Ben, even though the first issue of James Bond: Black Box just recently debuted, you can tell from what we have seen that you are putting your all into this one. How closely are you following in Warren Ellis’ footprints? What would you say are the differences between your writing of Bond and Warren’s?

BENJAMIN PERCY: Well, you could probably say my whole career is some version of me chasing Warren’s footprints in the mud. He’s the ultimate badass, a storytelling wizard. And like him, I’m writing across mediums – novels, comics, nonfiction, film/TV – and genres.

With Bond or Batman—or any franchise character—the readers never want you to simply ape what someone else was doing. The expectation is that the characters have some elasticity, and every writer will put their own unique stamp on the series. I’m carrying forward the characters and the world Warren cemented, but tonally, I’m making the series a little less dark and gritty. The high-wire tension remains, but I’ve got more gadgets and quips and romance and general playfulness. My take on Bond is a true stew of all the 007 movies and novels I’ve loved.

BB: Issue #3 of your first Bond adventure, on sale in May, sees No Name coming after 007. Tell us about this great character, in the great tradition of the “minor” villains like Jaws, Odd Job, etc. Did you create/name him?

BP: I like the bad guys best. King Kong, Dracula, Joker steal every scene they’re in, and in the Bond universe, Jaws and Odd Job are among my favorite henchmen. So I put a lot of thought into creating No Name, a nightmarish assassin who collects the death masks of his victims—and wears them to camouflage his hideous scars.

BB: What can you tell us about Saga Genji?

BP: Saga Genji is the equivalent of an Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg with bad intentions. A tech mogul—with Yakuza ties—whose phones, tablets, video game units have wormed their way into so many households—and he’s used that level of access to steal information from people. He’s taken things to the next level by pirating compromising information from UK government and military officials. James Bond is after him to acquire this “black box” of knowledge that has the potential to ruin many.

BB: Is that Felix Leiter tailing Bond in #3? Can you tell us anything about Leiter’s role in this adventure, non-spoilery of course?

BP: Yes, that’s Felix—Bond’s longtime frenemy. 007 doesn’t know this yet, but the CIA is after the black box as well. And in later issues, Felix will be both an ally and an obstacle.

BB: I don’t know why, but when I read Bond will be thrust into a sumo tournament in May’s issue #3 my fanboy mind flashed back to the scene in 2009’s Man with the Golden Gun where two young female students kung fu the crap out of some experienced ninjas. Hysterical! Probably no reflection of that in your tourney?

BP: That film stands out as one of the weirder and funnier installments. I wasn’t thinking about it, only spectacle. Japan is a treasure chest of story possibilities. And every Bond story takes full advantage of its exotic backdrops. So in Tokyo, we have scenes in the Shinjuku district, in underground casinos, in a sumo tournament. And later we travel to the so-called “suicide forest” at the base of Mt. Fuji. And board a bullet train. And enter the ruined landscape surrounding the Fukushima reactor.

BB: This character’s Dynamite book in all its iterations has been THE PLACE for great writing and art talent, and Black Box is no exception. With the very first issue, Rapha Lobosco has been kicking on all cylinders! What’s your take on Rapha’s 007?

BP: Rapha is so much fun to work with. He loves drawing Bond, and it shows. His art is perfectly staged, beautifully composed, and the pages blur by cinematically.

BB: Ben, what other projects would you like to tell our readers about?

BP: I’ve got a novel dropping this summer—now available for pre-order. Called The Dark Net. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s like a Black Mirror episode on steroids or … like some combination of The Matrix and The Exorcist. I hope people will check it out.

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