Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review: The James Bond Omnibus Vol. 004!

With Skyfall exploding all around the world, why not reminisce with some James Bond action of the past? Our friends at Titan Books have been reprinting omnibi of classic Bond comic strips, which originally made their debut in British newspaper The Daily Express from 1958. But don’t fret, the strips collected in this volume are from the far sexier seventies!

Admittedly I’m kind of late to this party. Titan have recently released The James Bond Omnibus (vol. 004) - written by Jim Lawrence with art by Yaroslav Horak - and this is the one I have in hand. So I’ve missed the comic adaptations of Fleming’s original novels such as Dr. No - but if tales with names such as The League of Vampires, The Girl Machine and The Nevsky Nude pique your interest then there’s still plenty of hard-drinking, villain-punching, woman-pounding fun to be had. So put on your white tuxedo jacket - we might be late but we’re at the party now!

To find out what I thought of all this... join me after the jump!

I’m going to gush again. I love this book. At first the newspaper strip format makes the storytelling feel very stilted. At the beginning of each row of new panels the main idea of the strip above it is repeated, and this feels odd when reading it all in one hit, but after a few pages I began to adjust. And the stories themselves are very solid, with plenty of breakneck action, colourful villains, and flitting around the globe. They each have enough mystery about them to keep me driving forward, eager to see what was going to happen next.

And I loved Horak’s stunning art from the beginning - he draws a rock-hard, quintessential James Bond who feels like an amalgam of every actor who has played him. I can even see a bit of Daniel Craig in there which is eerie considering he was three-years-old when these strips were created. He’s also unrestrained by the newspaper strip format. Although Bond is confined to tiny rows of boxes Horak packs a lot of detail into a very small space. Car chases, exotic vistas, giant machinery and wild animals all thrive comfortably on each densely packed page.

But as shallow as it may seem, one of the things that surprised/delighted me the most about this book was its bounty of boobs! Not even the films have the naked nipples that liberally scatter these pages. In fact even Connery’s own nipples were nestled behind a heavy mask of luxurious chest hair to protect conservative audiences. That alone makes these strips better than the film adaptation, and better than most newspaper strips out there. Has Blondie or Garfield ever popped out their jugs to please a crowd? Nope! Hats off to The Daily Express! James Bond can barely turn his head without having a pair of baps bounce against his granite-like face!

These Bond stories are far sexier than any of the movies. He confronts completely naked women constantly, whether they are stepping out of his shower, escaping on horseback, or lying en masse in villainous thought-tanks. If Bond meets a new woman she is guaranteed to be naked within a page. He gives one poor woman a full body search moments after meeting her, erroneously thinking she’s relieved him of a trinket. Bond also spends a fair amount of time naked himself. He enjoys some uncovered undercover at a nudist camp, and attends a vampire cult party wearing nothing but a domino mask and a cape! Writer Jim Lawrence, will exploit any opportunity to relieve a character of his/her clothes and for that he should be commended. I kind of wish that he had written some of the films!

He also captures the brutality of Bond. James doesn’t bat an eyelid at condemning the villains to hideous, often ironic, deaths. The villain’s demise in The Isle of Condors is especially cold-blooded, even though James has a slight change of heart at the end. In fact my only real qualm about the writing is that Bond insists on constantly referring to everybody as “luv” which makes him sound a lot more Cockney than we’re used to. Come on, Lawrence! James Bond is not a chav! He’s sophisticated! We know this from his smoking, early morning drinking, and casual racism. Okay... maybe he’s a bit of a chav...

I adore the world of James Bond that this book creates. It’s the perfect puerile male fantasy. In 2012 some of the attitudes may elicit giggles or even groans, but it’s still totally awesome super spy action. If you’re a fan of either James Bond or classic comics then I would recommend this for your collection.

You can find out more about Titan’s James Bond books at their site!

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