Book Review: James Bond: SPECTRE: The Complete Comic Strip Collection

Not only for your eyes.
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Having previously collected and released the James Bond newspaper comic-strip adventures that ran in British newspapers, including in Omnibus Volumes that were released from September 2009 to November 2014, Titan Books is now presenting the strips in hardback editions. SPECTRE: The Complete Comic Strip Collection covers Bond's encounters with the villainous organization (whose name stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, adapted from Ian Fleming's novels: Thunderball (running 12/11/61-02/10/62), The Spy Who Loved Me (12/18/67 - 10/03/68), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (06/29/64 - 05/17/65), and You Only Live Twice (05/18/65 - 01/08/66).

Running just under two months, the Thunderball storyline is brief in comparison to the three others, and according to Wikipedia, it “was cut short on the order of its owner, Lord Beaverbrook, after Fleming signed an agreement with The Sunday Times to publish a short story.” That explains why the story abruptly cuts from the cliffhanger of Bond getting attacked underwater during an attempt to stop SPECTRE from obtaining stolen nuclear bombs to his waking up in the hospital and having CIA agent Felix Leiter reveal the story's conclusion.

Presented out of order, TSWLM finds Bond dealing with mobsters at a Canadian motel that is set to be burned down. The novel's first-person narration by Viv has been dropped and SPECTRE's presence is added in an extended opening sequence that gets Bond into Canada. OHMSS finds Bond working with the head of Union Corse, the French Mafia, to take down Blofeld, who plans to use young women as biological weapons. YOLT sends Bond to Japan because of an embarrassing political situation for that country's government that ends up becoming quite personal for him.

Thunderball, OHMSS, and YOLT were written by Henry Gammidge with art by John McLusky. TSWLM was written by Jim Lawrence with art by Horak, who also drew the last strip of YOLT. The stories stay true to Fleming's work, unlike some of the movies, and should please fans of the novels. McLusky's Bond has a chiseled face, eyes that are just black pupils, and his hair frequently in place. Horvak's Bond has a slight resemblance to Clark Gable. His face is a tad wider, the eyes have irises, and Horvak uses lines to show Bond's age and the toll his missions have taken. Both artists demonstrate great skill in creating the settings, and their work can be appreciated because the book presents three strips on a 11.7” x 10.7” page.

The newspaper strips are marvelous adaptations of Fleming's James Bond stories and for those that haven't started collecting yet, these new editions, which SPECTRE: The Complete Comic Strip Collection is a part of, are a good way to go.

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