What’s your favorite Bond movie? I am one of those old-fashioned types who prefers the halcyon days of the 1960s, of Sean Connery and shaken not stirred and secret volcano lairs. And most of all I prefer 1964’s Goldfinger. In many ways it was the first complete Bond movie. Dr. No and From Russia With Love are both fine films, but it is in the third Bond outing that all the classic elements of a Bond movie come together: the girl, the villain, the henchman, the hideout, the cold open, the stylized credit sequence, the specially commissioned theme song. Grayson has toyed with the conventions of the spy genre since its first issue, but in this installment it means into them with rapturous joy. And when it leans, it rests on Goldfinger.
The book is one part comic, one part Bond parody, and one part music video. The middle of the story features Dick Grayson fashioning his own theme song to the tune of the Goldfinger anthem once belted out over cinema screens and radio waves by the inimitable Shirley Bassey. You know, “Goldfingerrrrrr! (Ba Bow Bow),” except for Dick it’s “Agent Thirty-seveeeen! (Ba Bow Bow).” The music serves as accompaniment to a montage in which he and his ally, the Tiger (now dubbed “Tony” by the aspiring spy-vocalist) take out the agents of Spyral. Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox rise above their usual standards of excellence in this sequence, and in the opening pages, which feature a breathtaking two-page splash of a car jumping the Alps.
Having said that, for all the amusement inherent in this issue, and that is a very great deal, nothing much actually happens until the end of the story. Helena, in desperation, turns to the seven figures in shadow that have been teased for several issues. These are the Syndicate, the greatest spies in the world. Whether that name is meant to invoke organised crime or the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3, only Seeley and King know. Guessing the identities of the Syndicate members has been quite the contest on several discussion boards over the last several months, and a number come as a surprise. One that is no surprise at all, or should not be, is King Faraday, patriarch of all spies in the DCU. There are two characters from the WildStorm Universe, Grifter and Tao. Frankenstein represents SHADE, and Bronze Tiger is present as well. Then there are two new characters, Kenshi, a mannequin-like figure whose name is the Japanese word for “eraser,” and Gwisin, an eerie creature named for a kind of Korean ghost.
Grayson and Tiger, however, seek allies of their own. Learning that Helena has enlisted the Syndicate, Grayson decides to seek help from an organization that can counter Spyral’s power. As the issue closes, he and Tiger are in the headquarters of Checkmate, shaking hands with Maxwell Lord.
By the end of this issue, for all its light-hearted tone, matters have grown very complicated. Dick Grayson has no idea, we think, that Tiger is working with Frau Netz to deceive him. Helena likewise does not know Frau Netz is deceiving her through the false avatar called Spyder. The Frau seems to be deliberately provoking a war between Spyral and Checkmate. But for what purpose? Is it the insane Darwinism of her father, Doctor Dedalus? Or her rivalry with her sister, Agent Zero? And what is Agent Zero up to these days, anyway? One thing's for sure. More of these people need theme songs, like EYE OF TONY THE TIGER (Bah Bah Baaaaah).