Friday, April 15, 2011

James Bond Omnibus Volume 2.

4 months? 6 months? After being released in the UK JB Omnibus volume 2 is finally here in the states and after UPS delivered my book to the wrong address yesterday I finally got it today. However since I already had these comic strips which were originally released in 17 Titan Comi...err... Graphic novel collections I can give an honest review of the book already.

I'll save you the blah blah blah that follows. This is a fantastic book and if you're looking for a cheaper way to check out these comic strips for yourself this is perfect for you because it contains many of the best strips.

Many is the time I have been asked Count I just find the Fleming novels to difficult to read is there anything I can read that will allow me to get the feeling of Flemings work with actually having to read Flemings work? Well actually I have NEVER been asked that thank goodness BUT if you want the flavor of Fleming with out having to read the books than the Titan reprints of the Daily Express comic strips are for you.

The strips ran in the Daily Express and Sunday Express from 1958 to 1983 expect for a few years in the 60's when Fleming and a the Express head honcho's were in a pissing match. Originally the comics were faithful straight ahead retellings of Fleming novels however in the mid 60's they made the change in writer from Henry Gammidge to Jim Lawrence. Lawrence began add characters and plot lines to stories such as The Man With Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me. Eventually once Fleming's work was used up The express got the OK from the Fleming's to have Lawrence write his own stories for the comic strips.

The best of these strips were the strips which were rooted in Fleming but added to by Lawrence. And those strips are why Titans James Bond Omnibus Volume 2 is so essential to Bond fans. The first 2 stories of the omnibus are On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice written by Henry Gammidge with art work by John McLusky. These are with out question the duo's best strips. At 274 panels OHMSS is the longest strip in the series. Just like the wonderful movie it is very faithful to the wonderful book. The strip actually often comes off as a story board for the film even though it was written years prior. It's simply a fantastic comic strip.

You Only Live Twice is another long strip at 201 panels which allows Gammidge and McLusky to completely flesh out Fleming's story. The next strip The Man With Golden Gun was the first for Lawrence and artist Yaroslov Horak. Horak's art work is legendary in Bond fan circles. Whether Fleming died before he finished TMWTGG or only finished and early draft or finished it but his health was so poor that the book suffered is up to debate. What isn't open to debate is that after 1/2 of a very good book the story goes straight into the crapper. This is where Lawrence came in adding characters and plot lines to the story making a 100% improvement. What you end up with is a comic strip that is better than the book it is taken from.

The living Daylights was a short story and it's a very short strip 54 panels. For you JB movie fans who haven't read Fleming the Living Daylights is about the female cellist who is also a KGB sniper. Of the 7 stories in this omnibus this is clearly the prelim or breather story of the group. it's well done but very short.

The Next two stories in Vol 2 are Octopussy and The Hildebrand Rarity. Octopussy was a short story about Bond having to investigate a WW2 hero who was implicated in a murder involving Nazi gold. The story is made mention by the character Octopussy in the 1983 movie of the same name. Again Lawrence takes a short story and adds extra plot to make a fine strip that is arguably better than Fleming's short story. 164 strips

The Hildibrand Rarity was a Fleming short story about a man named Milton Crest who collects rare breeds of fish and is abusive to his wife. (story is used as part of the plot for 1989 License to Kill) Again Lawrence takes Fleming's short story, in this case one of his best, and adds to it creating another very fine comic strip. 183 strips.

The last story of Volume 2 is one of Fleming's most controversial The Spy Who Loved Me. I am in the minority as I love what is often (wrongly) called Fleming's worst book but even I admit the book doesn't translated into an exciting comic strip story. Lawrence takes an off hand mentioned job in Canada changes it and adds to it to create the first half of the story. The second half of the story is the final 2/3rds of Fleming's novel that takes place at the Dreamy Pines Motor Court in Lake George New York and sees Bond save Vivien Michel from the villains Sluggsy and Horror. Again the combination of a Fleming Lawrence production creates a great comic strip one of my favorite strips of the series. 212 panels.

If I were asked by someone who wanted to look into the James Bond Daily Express comic strips but didn't want to invest in the 17 individual Titan books this is with out question the book I would recommend. 6 out of the 7 strips here are over 150 panels and the extra length allows Gammidge and Lawrence to flesh out a full exciting story. I am looking forward to Volume 3 which is due out in 2011 in Britain and who knows? maybe 2019 in the United States. Volume 3 will contain The Harpies, Colonel Sun and the River Of Death and those stories alone will make Volume 3 worth it however after the River of Death the wheels begin to fall of the wagon just a little bit as stories are often kept under a 1oo panels.

James Bond Omnibus Volume2 344 Pages *****/*****

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