Written and Drawn by John Byrne
Published by IDW
I guess the big question behind John Byrne’s “Cold War” is why bother? “Cold War”, from the looks of it, is an attempt to recreate the James Bond franchise without the fantastical elements. It’s not bad. It’s just not all that original. Or that good. I guess it’s competently drawn but its not great art either.
Our story involves a one Mr. Swann. It starts off in East Berlin and we’re treated to the kinds of things one expects in your standard spy story. Our story starts off with him killing someone who looks very Russian with one punch to the throat. We then see Mr. Swann go off on a chase through the streets of East Berlin. It reminded me of the much more exciting Jason Bourne chase scenes except I was just looking at still panels. Our British hero, presumably, manages to escape East Berlin (I wonder how he did that?) and gets back to Britain where he complains that he was set up and can no longer work for such an ineffective outfit. I just found myself not caring at all. I guess Byrne makes a kind of storytelling mistake in that I have no reason at all to like or care about what this character does. Yes I can see that you’re establishing him as a man of action who can break out of East Berlin barehanded but how is that original or even interesting?
Two years later it turns out that he’s still working as some kind of operative although its not clear for whom.
Here’s a scene and let’s see if you can see the lifts from the James Bond franchise.
Really? Miss Thorogoode. Seriously. Oh and they’re having sex, really? I suppose I might think this was slightly enthralling if the Internets weren’t full of porn, even better comics porn that you can get online or even in old collections of Heavy Metal. Apparently, the plot deals with a British rocket scientist who wants to defect to the Russians. I just find myself not caring one whit. Did the Brits even have an interesting rocketry program?
I guess this is where I do the unfair thing and compare it to other spy comics that are probably much much better. The best espionage comics ever were the Steranko “Agent of Shield” comics. A close second would have to the Doug Moench/Paul Gullacy “Master of Kung Fu” comics that not only had a lot of action but a completely serious and involved espionage plot involving Fu Manchu. Where “Cold War” doesn’t even have the trace of quality that those comics had and/or have. Just completely uninspired unoriginal work. The only thing remotely likeable about is the cover, which looks interesting from a design standpoint. The only thing I can think of is that he’s hoping that some Hollywood studio might pick it up and develop it into something. Highly not recommended. 2 out of 5 stars.