I was somewhat surprised to learn that the adventures of James Bond had appeared in comic strip format in England. I supposed I shouldn't have been...after all James Bond is certainly as revered a character to the English as Superman is to Americans. That's why I really love Titan books! They have undertaken the daunting task of reprinting all of Bond's comic strip adventures into several volumes, each featuring two or three separate Bond stories. Readers will recognize many of the stories that were eventually adapted into film although there are many more which will no doubt be new to many Bond Fans.
Now, the first time I ever went to a drive-in movie was around 1970 when I was eight years old. My parents load me and my older brothers up in the family station wagon and we went to see a bond triple feature of Dr. No, Goldfinger, and From Russia with Love. Bond films probably were not ideal for an eight year old with their complex plots but even at that age I knew this was a character much different than I had ever seen before. Dr. No remains one of my all-time favorite Bond pictures.
This volume titled "Dr. No" features that story, along with "Diamonds are Forever" and "From Russia with Love". In the bibliography section I would be somewhat surprised again to see that the chronology of the comic strip adaptations differed quite a bit from the film. While the film version of "Diamonds" didn't arrive until nine years after Dr. No, it actually appeared before in the comic strip version.
In Dr. No, Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of two operatives. The mystery seems to center on the mysterious Chinese Dr. No, who owns Crab Key Island where he has made a fortune selling sea bird guano to be used as fertilizer, but Bond would soon find out that the he has far more sinister goals. Dr. No has developed technology that allows him to divert American missiles fired from a nearby missile base, and sending them to other targets. It's a technology that his Russian customers would love to get their hands on. Bond must find a way to escape No's gauntlet of death and stop the mad man, and rescue Honey Ryder all at the same time.
The story has everything that has made Bond so popular over the years: an evil madman, ruthless henchmen, a diabolical plot, and a beautiful yet resourceful damsel. The art of John Mclusky is perfectly suited to these stories as it has a very cinematic feel to them, almost like reading finished storyboards. His art is crisp and his action sequences are deftly handled, not always an easy thing to do within the restrictions of a panel strip. It was just a superb story. This strip originally ran from May 1960 to October 1960.
The other stories are wonderful as well; particularly Diamonds are Forever which I've also always liked as a film. Bond is sent to the states to bust up a diamond smuggling ring and ends up in Las Vegas involved with the deadly Spangled Mob.
These Bond comic strip collections are just fantastic, especially to those of us who have never read them before and most of this material is being re-printed for the first time in decades. The books also contain a number of well-written articles on Bond history. Kudos to Titan Books for reprinting these classic comic strips!
Reviewed By Tim Janson