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BOND, STRIPPED DOWN AND BOUND UP
on 2 December 2011
A high-quality, well-produced book, containing every Bond serialisation to have appeared in The Daily Express between 1958 and 1962. Drawn by the gifted JOHN McCLUSKY, I was initially a bit underwhelmed by the rather straightforward style, but I soon realised why: three-panel strips had to conform to the newspaper format - a format that still remains to this day. Duh. Following that, it didn't take long to become fully absorbed by some quite excellent adaptations of the original novels. In the first few pages of the opening story, CASINO ROYALE, the likeness of Bond to IAN FLEMING is quite striking, but then the style settles down and 007 becomes quite a craggy angular type, not exactly bland, just resembling no-one in particular. And even though the scale is considerably less than we've been used to seeing on the big screen for nearly 50 years, there are still many recognisable story set-pieces. Additionally, a fair amount of torture features throughout (although rendered with subtlety by McClusky) and this clearly reflects Fleming's rough and tumble take on Cold War espionage. The monochrome worlds of James Bond's broadsheet adventures are therefore certainly not without their quota of highly-charged excitement, which ensures everything moves along at a fast pace and the attention never flags. Each story's respective characters are vividly realised and, yes, all the early Bond racial stereotypes and female 'affectations' are present and (politically in)correct. To be fair, PC was very much a thing of the future in those days so to criticise it too harshly now is to miss the point somewhat. With that in mind then, it's not exactly difficult to see why the novels were snapped up by EON Productions soon after publication, and why the suave British Secret Service agent became such a worldwide success. These comic strips were yet another phase of the burgeoning 007 phenomenon, bringing it to an even wider audience. If you're prepared to go with the (ink)flow, THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS Volume 1 is a ride well worth taking, perfect for the genuine fan who wants more than just celluloid thrills. And the same, not surprisingly, applies equally to Volume 002.
Featuring: DR NO (check out the deadly centipede!); FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE; GOLDFINGER; THUNDERBALL; DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER; LIVE AND LET DIE; MOONRAKER; FOR YOUR EYES ONLY; FROM A VIEW TO A KILL; CASINO ROYALE and, er, RISICO(?)