Serpent's Tooth Review
Serpent's Tooth is a James Bond graphic novel by Doug Moench with art
by Paul Gulacy. It was first published by Dark Horse Comics and
appeared in three parts from 1992 to 1993. The story begins with some
alarming developments that happened several years previously. A group
of nuclear scientists were kidnapped from Britain and not long after
that a British nuclear submarine was attacked by a mysterious force
beneath the Arctic ice and had six nuclear warheads stolen. The British
Secret Service assigned 009 to investigate the case but 009 has now
vanished. He was believed to have been in Peru looking into a company
known as Paradiso Industries and owned by a shadowy reptilian character
named Indigo. 007 is given the task of investigating the disappearance
of 009 and the theft of the nuclear missiles and his mission takes him
to South America where he meets his contact (and inevitable love
interest) Sunny Vasquez and discovers that the cold-blooded Indigo is
plotting all sorts of outrageous mischief that could have terrible
consequences for life as we know it...
This is a colourful and entertaining graphic novel that owes quite a
lot to the fantastical late seventies Roger Moore era of James Bond
when the likes Lewis Gilbert and Ken Adam were heavily involved in the
films. The plot is enjoyably ludicrous and seems to be heavily
influenced by Moonraker (the film not the book) with the South American
locations and a nefarious plot to wipe out most of the planet and
create a new super race (composed mostly of women here) to take over.
The art is slightly Todd McFarlane in style, reminding me of some of
his old Spiderman comics, and Bond himself is very square jawed and
Bruce Wayne in appearance with black hair and blue eyes. We first meet
Bond in Switzerland where he fends off an attack by a beautiful women
in his usual unflappable manner and is delighted to receive a call from
M telling him he has a new mission. 'As a matter of fact I was hoping
for a new assignment. My holiday's gone rather bust.'
Besides the Moonraker influences there is an element of The Spy Who
Loved Me too with a ruined temple secret base that can be taken
underwater. The book seems to cherry pick some of the more outlandish
elements from Cubby Broccoli's more outrageous 007 offerings. The
villain is an important part of any James Bond story and the one on
offer here is relatively good - although he does cross over into
someone you might expect to find in a Marvel Comic battling Spiderman
rather more than have anything to do with James Bond. This is by no
means an attempt to do the most downbeat or realistic Bond story.
Indigo has a rare blood disorder which makes him cold-blooded and he
has dosed himself with reptilian DNA. The DNA has given him grey skin,
slitted eyes and claws and in addition to attempting to destroy the
world from a secret jungle base he's also very into genetic
This is where Serpent's Tooth slides into Jurassic Park territory and
might strike some Bond fan readers as being somewhat preposterous even
for a graphic novel. Indigo, the rascal, is secretly trying to bring back
extinct species like dinosaurs. Ian Fleming did once have Bond wrestling
with an octopuss or something in Dr No but this is probably taking
things a bit too far. He also, in Michael Lonsdale Hugo Drax fashion,
has built up a collection of perfect women who he intends will rule
the planet with him once he's disposed of most of the current population.
If nothing else, it's a lot more exciting than the last Bond film,
where the villain's big scheme was trying to gain access to water rights!
I quite liked Indigo's henchmen, two albino twins (or clones) named
Kane and Abel who are very reminiscent of similar characters in The Matrix Reloaded.
Serpent's Tooth is often fun for touching all the bases of the often grand
scale and fantastical cinematic Bond of the sixties and seventies. You
have a villain planning to wipe out most of the planet, twin henchmen,
Bond dispensing a few deadpan quips and some mildly suggestive lines
('Don't tell me you failed to conquer your peaks'), a secret base that
Bond has to snoop around in and escape from, a casino scene, and a range
of locations from London to The Arctic to South America to Switzerland.
There are also plenty of gadgets courtesy of IQ who gets to visit
South America himself with a few toys for Bond. They include an
ultrasonic mosquito repellent, a false tooth with explosives inside it,
a compass with a homing device and speedboat with rocket launchers
and an afterburner. This speedboat is yet another element that reminds
one of the Moonraker film.
M and Moneypenny also make an appearance in Serpent's Tooth and M, unavoidably
perhaps, does have a definite hint of Bernard Lee about him. Serpent's Tooth
doesn't have the same charm as the old James Bond newspaper comic strips from
the Daily Express by Jim Lawrence and Yaroslav Horak - and seems further away
from the spirit of Ian Fleming - but it is a generally entertaining book with
the enjoyable (and at times times over the top) art and frequently bonkers
story. I really liked some of the covers and introductory art too which
takes the traditional James Bond image and amps it up to 11 with Bond girls
and a tuxedo clad James Bond striking various poses with a gun. It feels
like a nod to the classic Bond poster art of the Connery and Moore films
and is very striking in comparison with the dreadful cut and paste art of
the recent Bond films.
Serpent's Tooth is a bit too daft for its own good at times but it's not bad
at all and a decent and colourful read for anyone with a fondness for graphic
novels and James Bond.