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 Ellisâ footprints? What would you say are the differences between your writing of Bond and Warrenâs?
BENJAMIN PERCY: Well, you could probably say my whole career is some version of me chasing Warrenâs footprints in the mud. Heâs the ultimate badass, a storytelling wizard. And like him, Iâm writing across mediums â novels, comics, nonfiction, film/TV â and genres.
With Bond or Batmanâor any franchise characterâthe 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. Iâm carrying forward the characters and the world Warren cemented, but tonally, Iâm making the series a little less dark and gritty. The high-wire tension remains, but Iâve 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 Iâve 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 âminorâ 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 theyâre 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 victimsâand 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 mogulâwith Yakuza tiesâwhose phones, tablets, video game units have wormed their way into so many householdsâand heâs used that level of access to steal information from people. Heâs taken things to the next level by pirating compromising information from UK government and military officials. James Bond is after him to acquire this âblack boxâ of knowledge that has the potential to ruin many.
BB: Is that Felix Leiter tailing Bond in #3? Can you tell us anything about Leiterâs role in this adventure, non-spoilery of course?
BP: Yes, thatâs FelixâBondâs longtime frenemy. 007 doesnât 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 donât know why, but when I read Bond will be thrust into a sumo tournament in Mayâs issue #3 my fanboy mind flashed back to the scene in 2009âs 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 wasnât 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 âsuicide forestâ at the base of Mt. Fuji. And board a bullet train. And enter the ruined landscape surrounding the Fukushima reactor.
BB: This characterâs 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! Whatâs your take on Raphaâs 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: Iâve got a novel dropping this summerânow available for pre-order. Called The Dark Net. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Itâs like a Black Mirror episode on steroids or â¦ like some combination of The Matrix and The Exorcist. I hope people will check it out.