The James Bond Omnibus Volume 002
James Bond Omnibus Volume 002 is a collection of the famous vintage
newspaper (three panel) comic strip adaptations of Ian Fleming James
Bond novels and short stories. It was published in this collected
edition in 2011. There are seven stories here - On Her Majesty's Secret
Service, You Only Live Twice, The Man with The Golden Gun, The Living
Daylights, Octopussy, The Hildebrand Rarity and The Spy Who Loved Me.
The first two were adapted by Henry Gammidge with art by John McLusky
and then Jim Lawrence and Yaroslav Horak take over the writing and
illustrating duties respectively. The comic strips all made their first
appearance in The Daily Express in the sixties and are often - unlike
the films - surprisingly faithful renderings of Fleming's work. They of
course soon ran out of Fleming stories to adapt and had to start coming
up with completely new ones so this second compilation from Titan Books
is enjoyable for its very Fleming-esque aura.
real star of the strips is the superb art by McLusky and Horak. McLusky
is more traditional and Horak more modern and noir but both really
capture the atmosphere of James Bond and are wonderfully inventive.
They make the panels come alive with plenty of background detail and
momentum. The first Gammidge adaptation is On Her Majesty's Secret
Service with art by McLusky (this story made its first appearance
1964/65). This is one of the best Fleming stories and made the greatest
James Bond film - probably because just for once it was a faithful
adaptation from page to screen by Broccoli and Saltzman. The comic
strip version here is probably the finest hour for Gammidge and
McLusky. The story begins with a nice montage of James Bond in various
places around the world. In classic gun pose, punching the lights out
of some unfortunate goon, looking incognito with a hat as he steps off
of an aeroplane. All very spiffy and James Bondian.
has spent a year searching for Ernst Stavro Blofeld and the remnants of
SPECTRE but the supervillain and his nefarious organisation has
remained frustratingly elusive. "This is ridiculous. Blofeld's dead! So
why does M keep turning me into a detective looking for a ghost?" Tired
and disillusioned, he drafts a letter of resignation and returns to the
casino at Royale-Les-Eaux. But back at the scene of his first
adventure, he ends up saving the life of the complex and suicidal
Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo. This brings Bond into the orbit of Tracey's
father Marc-Ange Draco - head of a crime organisation named The Union
Corse. Draco is most impressed by 007 and wants Bond to marry his
wayward daughter so he gives him a lead on Blofeld. Blofeld has come
out from under his rock to claim the dubious title of a Count and Bond
will have to pose as Sir Hilary Bray from the Royal Collage of Arms to
infiltrate Piz Gloria - Blofeld's mountain retreat.
is a really good adaptation. McLusky has refined Bond somewhat (and
remember the film series had started by now and was at its peak) so
he's less Basil Rathbone and more Sean Connery. He also occasionally
changes the standard three panel format into one sweeping single panel.
A nice touch and very cinematic. The story is the most human of
Fleming's novels (Bond falls in love and gets married) and one of the
most exciting (some great action packed alpine panels) so you really
don't need to change anything much. I think this strip actually ran for
an entire year in the newspaper and it's very impressive as a complete
piece. One minor drawback is the habit the strips have of the
cliffhanger/recap device because of their three panel format. Once you
get used to this though and are engaged in the story it isn't a major
"Now bring on the twelve
she-devils and if they're all as beautiful as Fraulein Bunt. We'll get
Noel Coward to put it to music and have it on Broadway by Christmas.
How about it?" You Only Live Twice was the last strip that McLusky and
Gammidge worked on together and a fitting way to go out. It first
appeared in 1965/66. This is the last part of Fleming's Blofeld Trilogy
and makes a nicely macabre and strange story to adapt. Bond is still
reeling from the events of On Her Majesty's Secret Service and is sent
to retrieve a Japanese device that can decipher coded Soviet messages.
"Magic 44" is to be a gift for services given to the Japanese
government. A mysterious Swiss botanist known as Dr Shatterhand has
created a "Garden of Death" where suicides are rife. Bond must
undertake a mission to this deadly garden to secure the code machine
but the identity of Dr Shatterhand will come as a huge shock and give
him the chance for revenge.
is another fine strip and nicely evokes the fashions and atmosphere of
the Connery era Bonds. One of the guiltily enjoyable things about this
and the other adaptations is that this is a James Bond from a very
different time and much more of a hybrid of the book and early film
Bond. You even get a disclaimer in the compilation! "This book is a
work of fiction. Characters may have views and use language which some
of today's readers may find offensive." McLusky throws some nice one
and two page panels in to shake things up and once again is obviously
very inspired by the look established by the films. This is of course a
much more faithful rendering of Fleming's story than the film although
Gammidge dispenses with a lot of Fleming's (sometimes it has to be said
superfluous) prose to get to the heart of the story. James Bond versus
his most famous foe amidst a rich exotic atmosphere.
Man with the Golden Gun was adapted in 1966 by Jim Lawrence and
Yaroslav Horak (art). What is the difference between Horak and McLusky?
I would say that Horak's art is more film noir and his physical
depiction of James Bond is more modern and action man generic. I like
this myself. Bond now looks like Bruce Wayne in the Batman comics which
is fine by me. Let's be honest, James Bond is not supposed to look like
Daniel Craig. He has to look a bit superhero or there is no real point.
The novel was Fleming's last and he died before it was finished. It
isn't considered to be one of his best works. The plot is fairly
simple. Bond is brainwashed and attempts to assassinate his boss M. He
is stopped and it transpires the Russians were behind this brazen
scheme. 007 is rehabilitated and given a mission to see if he is still
fit for service. His target is Francisco "Pistols" Scaramanga, a famed
Hitman known as 'The Man with the Golden Gun' for his chosen instrument
of choice, a gold-plated Colt 45. Scaramanga has killed several British
agents. Will Bond be his latest victim?
transition of a new writing and art team is very smooth here and the
spirit of pulp and Fleming remains intact. Horak's art is superb at its
best. Love the POV panel of Scaramanga's gun dispensing with another
unfortunate victim as the story opens. Although not the best Fleming
story it is of course always novel to enjoy it through the prism of a
comic strip and so gains a new lease of life. Again, this is very
faithful with one key difference. In this adaptation, M sends an
injured victim of Scaramanga named Margesson to the nursing home where
Bond is recovering from his brainwashing. This is a ploy to make Bond
more personally connected to the case.
it, chum! If you want me sacked from Double-O go right ahead! They can
shift me to a nice paper-shuffling job!" The Living Daylights was again
adapted in 1966. This is a remarkably faithful adaption of the Fleming
short story and finds a depressed Bond grudgingly accepting a mission
to kill a Soviet assassin in no man's land in Berlin. A British agent
is on his way back to the West and Bond must kill the Soviet sniper
before the agent is terminated. The story is updated to include the
Berlin Wall (which hadn't been constructed when Fleming wrote his
story) but otherwise this is a superbly faithful and atmospheric
rendering of the story. This is Fleming in melancholy mood and is about
James Bond's distaste for killing. Sometimes it is a necessary part of
his profession but he doesn't like it at all and will avoid doing it if
he can. Love the opening panel here. The ever encroaching wall,
searchlights, barbed wire, an armoured jeep. Great stuff.
is another adaptation of a Fleming short story and although it first
appeared in the Express in 1966 (what a great year that was) it
eventually ran into 1967. This is not a hugely faithful adaptation and
Lawrence throws in a few twists and aquatic coda capers of his own
bent. The story has Hans Oberhauser found dead, frozen in the Alps.
Oberhauser was a mentor to James Bond when the future super secret
agent was a very young man. He taught him how to ski and was like a
father. As you can imagine, Bond is very interested and emotionally
connected to this case and suspicion seems to fall on Major Dexter
Smythe - the last person to see Oberhauser alive. Once again, Horak's
art is the star here and really great. City panels, alpine panels,
panels at sea. Mary Goodnight also appears in the story and as usual
there are one or two lines in the strips that are rather of their time.
'Forgive Barbarian tactics, but humble servant object most strongly to
being tailed,' says Bond after confronting the Chinese man who had been
following him. Octopussy isn't the best of Fleming but the comic strip
is fun anyway.
Rarity is another 1967 adaptation of a Fleming short story and like the
last one includes a number of changes (presumably because Fleming
material was so thin on the ground now and they wanted to pad the short
pieces out). While on holiday in the Seychelles, Bond falls in with
dubious millionaire Milton Krest and is persuaded to join a search for
a rare spiked fish known as The Hildebrand Rarity which Krest must find
as part of a tax dodge. Krest beats his wife with a whip and poisons
countless fish looking for The Hildebrand Rarity and the millionaire
will be lucky to survive the boat trip without getting his comeuppance.
Lawrence prefaces the search for the Hildebrand Rarity with a backstory
where Krest steals a high-tech drone submarine known as the Sea Slave
during its test run. The Sea Slave was a joint American and British
project and Bond is looking for clues as to its current whereabouts.
Will Bond discover Krest's secret and will the unpopular and boorish
Krest survive the cruise intact anyway? I've always liked the literary
version of this with its languid tropical atmosphere and the comic
adaptation nicely captures some of that aura.
final strip here is The Spy Who Loved Me. This is a 1966/67 adaptation
of Fleming's most experimental novel. He absolutely hated it and
stipulated that only the title could be used in any film or comic strip
version but I quite like it myself. The literary story had Bond on the
way back from a mission in Canada and arriving at a lonely mountainous
Adirondacks hotel where a woman named Vivienne Michel is alone and
closing it down while she waits for the owner to arrive. She is menaced
by two criminal goons named Sol 'Horror' Horowitz and Sluggsy Morant
who plan to torch the hotel for insurance purposes and quite obviously
plan to rape and kill Vivienne. Until that is the unexpected arrival of
the mysterious man named James Bond.
novel was told from the perspective of Vivienne (very unusual for
Fleming) but Lawrence makes big changes to adapt it to the comic format
and adhere to Fleming's instructions. In this comic strip version, the
story revolves around a test pilot in Canada named Mike Farrar who is
part of the trials for a secret new stealth aircraft called the
Ghosthawk. Farrar is being blackmailed though by someone called Horst
Uhlmann and this information is passed onto the British Secret Service.
Uhlmann used to be a member of SPECTRE and the British are interested
to find out if he is still connected to them and if SPECTRE is still
operational and able to pose a threat. James Bond is sent to Canada to
impersonate Farrar in an attempt to get more information and hopefully
entice SPECTRE out.
It's a shame
that Horak's film noir style couldn't have given the story a go in a
more faithful sense but The Spy Who Loved Me is very enjoyable and you
even get a new SPECTRE villain named Madame Spectra. The James Bond
Omnibus Volume 002 is obviously a bit dated in terms of its language
and attitudes but anyone interested in james Bond and British comics
should enjoy this a lot. It has extra value too for being the last
batch of Ian Fleming adaptations before they ran out of Fleming
material. Love the Bond girl full size splash pages too. The James Bond
Omnibus Volume 002 is well over 300 pages long and great fun.