MI6 looks at Dark Horse's last offering of James Bond in "Minute of Midnight" released in September 1994...

"Minute of Midnight" Review
1st June 2005

The Story
This fractured three part story begins with us meeting an undercover James Bond in Washington D.C, eavesdropping on a group calling themselves Lexis who are planning their diabolical scheme 'Operation Miasma'. Bond is set upon by street thugs while in his undercover garb as a tramp. After rendering the thugs unconscious, he learns more information about Lexis and his group.

Above: Front cover


Returning to an undercover CIA office, Bond meets his soon to be female conquest Miss Shadow Breight. While discussing his findings with a CIA section chief, Bond is charged with delivering the sensitive information by hand to London, via Military transport that is scheduled to leave the following morning.

After spending the night with Miss Breight, we are shown a inquisitive Breight looking through Bonds clothing. The morning sees Bond leaving with his CIA escort Mr Robert Nagell, after saying fair well to Miss Breight and Part Two begins.

After a smooth takeoff, Robert Nagell reveals his true colours activating a gas canister to knockout Bond and the flight crew. With a little acting and some fast hands, Bond disables Mr Nagell only to have him open the emergency door and exit the plane with the only parachute. In a very similar scene to Moonraker's skydive, we see Bond wrestle the parachute from the ill-fated Mr Nagell and return to the airplane. Once aboard he takes control of the aircraft and radios ahead reporting that he still on time.

Business at Hand is the final of this short three part adventure. We see Bond hand over the documents to Mr Nigel Redditch, who delivers a message from M to exercise his licence to kill. Later that evening we see Bond sneaking on to the Lexis estate to murder Mr Lexis the head of the established organization. Once the 'Joker' looking villain is silent we see Bond reflect on the cold-blooded murder, which is the strongest and most original aspect of this story.

Bond reflects upon his actions via a conversation will Bill Tanner, and is advised to take a short break to relax. The story concludes with Mr Redditch discussing with a counterpart about a plan to kidnap M.

Above: James Bond is in disguise in the opening cell of "Minute if Midnight"

The flow of this story is poor and disjointed. With this being the last of Dark Horse's James Bond comics before losing the license to Topp's, there may have been a rush to publish all the remaining James Bond stories in a single issue, rather then the obviously butchered story arc. The comic ends with the promise of more but with the loss of the license this was not to be.

Each of the three chapters could have been expanded with more character and plot development. The villains aren't threatening nor appear insane, or enough to be formidable foes. The villain's plot seams borrowed from Gardner's Licence Renewed, whereas part two seems like a poor rip off of Thunderball's aircraft crew gassing and Moonraker's mid-air fight.

The subplots aren't explored but are planted throughout all three parts. Lexis' daughter is built up and then never address as a valued character, and the group working within the respective agencies is not named or even a motive established. With M not making an appearance, or being addressed in the comic as a serious player in Bond's universe, the dynamic of the final discussion is hollow.


Above: Cell from "Minute of Midnight" Part 2.

Overall if more time was available to the creator of this story it would have been a more enjoyable read.

Above: James Bond deals with the dirty task of murder - cells from Minute of Midnight Part 3


Cover Design
This flip book features on one side James Bond and the opposite side Aliens vs Predator. Dark Horse Comics produced this final issue before losing their Bond licence; the Bond cover features Moonraker-esque imagery. Bond is in freefall resulting another character for the single parachute. In the background a large military cargo plane is bearing down on Bond and foe. The image sets the mood, but does not feel dynamic enough. With simple detailing the cover works, but could have been improved with time.

Overall this cover is by no means the best offered over the course of Dark Horse's run of Bond comics.

Russ Heath has created a believable visual world, which is lacking the final background details. The layout of the cells is standardised and there are no detailed backgrounds which link a page or double page spread. A rushed story has blended into rushed art, however, the imagery does keep the story moving.

As with the story, the dialogue suffers - fractured and poorly delivered. Moving the story along and planting many unneeded subplots, the dialogue really shows the mini arc which was meant for a larger format.

Best Line
"Kinky with your drinks to!"

MI6 Briefing
Title: 007 James Bond - Minute of Midnight
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics, Inc. / Acme Comics Ltd.
Released: #25 September 1994
Writer: Doug Moench
Cover: Russ Heath
Colorist: Raymond P Murtaugh
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Robert Boyd

Above: Cell from Minute of Midnight Part 1
  Data Stream (Issue #25)
Villains: Lexis, Robert Nagell, Nigel Redditch, Mr Sykes
Plot: Bond learns of a plan to sabotage nuclear power plants around the world, and he must get the information to London for special branch to review. Before he has had the chance to deliver his report to M in person, Bond is ordered to strike first and kill the villain behind the sinister plot.
Bond Girls: Miss Shadow Breight
Allies: Bill Tanner
Locations: Washington D.C, High Above the Atlantic Ocean, London, Lakenheath Airfield

MI6 Rating

Images courtesy Dark Horse Comics.

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