On first impressions of Bubbles O’Seven I thought I was going to be indulging in a spoof of James Bond. Well I was sort of right. The narrative itself isn’t a spoof and rather a serious story but it does certainly in both clever and cheeky ways mimic the classical tales of 007. Only in this version our protagonist is a monkey, or more accurately a modified monkey that has been turned into a special agent.
I can’t say I’m a James Bond fan, nor am I really a fan of the Spy-Thriller genre, but Bubbles O’Seven did intrigue me with its inventive approach to the genre. It’s not an uncommon thing these days for genres to be shaken up a bit and reformatted to create something fresh to excite audiences who have become too acquainted with specific genres or tropes. I do honestly believe that the idea of a modified monkey being a James Bond figure is a great idea and it works well at providing something different and unexpected.
All the usual James Bond elements are there, right down to the protagonist being British, suave and sophisticated. Bubbles as a character is quite stereotypical but it doesn’t make him unlikable and rather interesting because you’re seeing the usual tropes of a Spy-Thriller protagonist in the form of a monkey. Bubbles is certainly confident in his job and is able to outwit his adversaries through superior thinking and reflexes, as well as being good with a gun. What makes Bubbles’ character intriguing is his past. Hinted through flashback panels we see Bubbles and his time spent in a secret facility where he was experimented on. There are signs that this was a dark experience for him and I hope to learn more about what happened to him in later issues.
The other characters, though not giving much panel time or development as of yet, do add there parts to the on-going narrative. We have Miss. Prime who acts as Bubbles’ lady friend, though her character is complex through her agenda being slightly unknown having attempted to first kill Bubbles before later teaming up with him. There is then Bubbles’ old friend Leroy who acts as his wing-man on certain missions, as well as hinted at being apart of the gruelling experiments that ultimately created Bubbles. Finally there is The Professor who acts as Bubbles’ technical guy, whom Bubbles speaks to through video-calls.
As for the villain, well, he wasn’t all that interesting and certainly wasn’t much of a threat. Clearly a play on a James Bond villain, Dr. O is a typical stereotype from the Spy-Thriller genre, right down to hanging our protagonist over a death-trap and having an army of minions. But considering how long he was in the narrative for and his lack of real threat and lack of speech, Dr. O was pretty pathetic and disappointing, especially when you consider the first volume of this series is called “Dr. O” which made me think he was going to be a big baddy for Bubbles to face. Here’s hoping he either gets progressed as the volumes go on or that we see some better villains.
The narrative is, for me, where some of my issues lie. At times the narrative feels very immersive, especially when we get hints of Bubbles’ past or simply seeing him being a badass but there are other times were the narrative feels disjointed or rushed. There were points where I didn’t understand what was going on or that a time-skip appeared with little indication of where the narrative was heading. There was a bunch of location changes, followed by different plot-threads that came and went and it felt all over the place in terms of pacing and structure. An example of this was where one scene depicted Miss. Prime trying to kill Bubbles whilst the next scene had them hanging out on the beach, which is suddenly followed by Bubbles’ random capture by Dr. O who had no relevance to the plot prior to this segment or afterwards.
Then there was the whole narrative surrounding Specimen 67 whom Bubbles is assigned to locate. There is little indication as to where this side of the plot was heading, other than the importance of this mysterious character and their blurred backstory which has some kind of relevance to Bubbles’ past. But this part of the narrative was later pushed aside and completely forgotten about (or at least to my awareness, as I said the narrative isn’t entirely straight forward or I’m just not following the story very well, in which case I apologise). Maybe things will improve, or simply get explained, in future volumes but for an introduction piece it can be hard to jump into when you lose track of the plot and where the character motivations lay.
In terms of art-work, this is a solid comic. Matt Rooke does a great job at capturing the feel of the Spy-Thriller genre and certainly gives this series a look that defines it. The characters all look distinctive and the panels themselves flow nicely and capture all the little details and action sequences, allowing for an immersive read. Certainly him and Grainne McEntee, writer of the series, have created something different with Bubbles O’Seven and though I’m not a fan of Spy-Thriller stories this did grab my attention. It’ll be interesting to see where they can take Bubbles as his adventures progress as well as seeing how they can further put a spin on James Bond and the Spy-Thriller genre.
And there you have it, my verdict on the first volume of Bubbles O’Seven. Have you read this alternative Spy-Thriller yet, in which case please share your thoughts and opinions about the project in the comment section below or on our Twitter Page! If you haven’t read Bubbles O’Seven yet please track it down here: http://bouncecomics.co.uk/product/dr-o/.