Friday, May 11, 2012

Remembering James Bond Omnibus Vol 3.

You can read my reviews for Vol 1 Here
And Vol 2 Here

The works of Ian Fleming that were usable in comic strip format had all been used by 1968 so now Jim Lawrence (writer) and Yaroslav Horak (artist) began to produce original stories. All of the strips in this volume except Colonel Son were original stories by Jim Lawrence. Colonel Sun was an adaptation of Kingsley Amis' loan work of James Bond fiction. The stories collected in Vol 2. which contained Fleming stories with plot elements added to by Lawrence were the best the strip had to offer. Volume 3 starts off strong but the quality of the stories begin to dip starting with the strip Fear Face which with it's killer robots veers off into the world of science fiction.

The Harpies 1968-1969: 222 Strips. The first full Lawrence Original is a strong strip. I am a fan of the longer strips stories as it gives the writer more time to flesh out a good story. Eventually the strips would start running less than a 100 strips with some running only between 55-80 and the quality of the stories would suffer. Horak's art work is always first rate. A group of jet packed females have kidnapped a scientist named Phineas who has created a death ray. He's hasn't decided yet what to do with his invention and the evil Simon Nero wants it for himself so he uses his Harpies to kidnap Phineas. **** 1/2

 River Of Death 1969 126 Strips. One of Lawrence's favorite plot devices trained animals makes it's debut here. This time it's trained howler monkeys who kill people by gassing them. Bond and Kitty Redwing investigate one Dr. Cat who is training the monkeys. This is one of the most well thought of strips in the cannon but it's not with out flaw. Bond's dialogue which begins to sound more suitable for Willie Garvin with it's increased cockney slang is often mentioned for starting in the strip Golden Ghost. In actuality he starts to use "loves" and "blimeys" and the like in this strip. Why does Bond take so long to connect the store owner LT Grey with Dr. Cat? I mean come on El Tigre? One last thing. Various Bond reference books mention that it's a mistake that Bond knows Kitty Redwing's name because she doesn't introduce herself. Really? Strip 1097 "My people predate the "yanks" Mr Bond we got there before the Mayflower I'm a Sioux Indian Kitty Redwing" That sounds like an introduction to me. ****

Colonel Sun. 1969-1970 212 Strips. A straight adaptation of Kingley Amis' book. The Chinese under the leadership of one Colonel Sun Liang-tan. is going to blow up a  middle eastern Russian peace meeting and make it look like the English did it starting world war 3. Bond teams up with a communist Greek agent Ariadne Alexandrou to foil the plot. Yes the move The Spy Who Loved me borrowed liberally from this story. The book is considered by many the best James Bond continuation novel and the strip is pretty much a straight retelling of the book. It's one of the best strips of the cannon. *****

Golden Ghost.  1970-1971 124 strips. The British have created a luxury blimp and nothing can possibly go wrong. Well except that one of the pilots and builders of the thing is planning to highjack it and collect ransom on all of the high rollers aboard the ship. MI 6 gets word of the plot through a clairvoyant witch on TV who herself gets tipped off from her Boy friend. Bond visits the Witch who is murdered and boards the Golden Ghost as a journalist. It's a good strip somewhat ruined by the now complete change in Bonds dialogue. He is now full blown Willie Garvin with his Blimey's Crickey's and me love's.  ****

Fear Face. 1971 76 Strips. Its hard to flesh out a good story in 76 strips and Fear Face suffers for it. Robots are killing influential people and Bond has to investigate. it's a plot apparently taken from the British TV show avengers. Even keeping in mind the medium of a comic strip this story is too silly and too short to be one of the better strips. ***

Double Jeopardy. 1971. 115 Strips. Now we deal with the old Spanish telenovela staple of plastic surgeons being able to produce perfect doubles of people. The first is black mailed with nude photos of somebody who looks just like her unless she can get the secret plans from her husband a top minister of defense. SPECTRE is behind the whole deal and they plan to produce perfect doubles of other key people. Can a plastic surgeon produce a perfect replica of somebody else even the best of the profession? What about Body types? There will be far more improbable story lines to follow in the strips future. Not a bad strip not great either *** 1/2

Star Fire 1971 100 Strips. Hippies! A Hippy cult leader promises revenge from the stars to anybody who dares question him and SPECTRE get's a hold of the story and uses for cover to take out some of their enemies and get the plans for a new airplane. They pay Luke Quantrill to enact revenge and make it look like in fact it was Lord Astro the hippy cult leaders doing. Lord Astro is nuts and takes credit for the murders which are caused by  model remote controlled air plains made to look like celestial attacks that are triggered by a homing device planted on the victim. Quantrill takes out SPECTRES enemies and anybody else whoever done him wrong making it look like they were all the work of Lord Astro. Silly and one wonders why Bond is involved since the whole thing takes place in Britain (though that has never stopped him before) Still it's a stronger story than the last 2. ****

Vol 3 is the shortest Omnibus yet and while it maybe as good or better than Vol 1. The stories aren't as strong but they are executed better with better art work it's not as good as Vol 2. Still it's well worth picking up if for only The Harpies and Col Sun. One last thing Titan books normally has on the back page an add for the upcoming volume. There was none here. Though the stories have already been republished and the quality of the coming stories vary I do hope there is a Volume 4.

James Bond Omnibus Volume 3. ****/*****

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