Adapting the James Bond films, arguably the most iconic and enduring franchise in cinema, into a comic-strip format seems a no-brainer. But the collected stories in this omnibus, the second in a series from Titan Books, go straight to Ian Fleming’s source material, predating the subsequent film adaptations and so providing an interesting, defamiliarised take of a usually instantly recognisable phenomenon.
The stories covered in this volume include “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”, all told through a series of two- and three-frame comic strips as originally published separately in the Daily Express. The thrill-laden, pulpy nature of the source material lends itself exceptionally well to this episodic, visual format, the only problem being the necessity of long, detailed captions throughout; an obvious drawback of faithfully transposing complex literary stories into a visual format.
Nonetheless, the strips are engrossing and fascinating pieces of art, capturing brilliantly the adventure at the heart of each of the stories. The omnibus covers the work of two artists: John McLusky, the original illustrator; and his replacement, Yaroslav Horak. Both did tremendous work with the stories and had similar styles, though this reviewer’s personal preference is for the somewhat bolder, more impressionistic imagery of Horak’s work, which edges it in terms of capturing excitement. But that is not to undermine McLusky’s wonderful original drawings, which first established the rugged likeness of the hero, one bearing an uncanny resemblance to Sean Connery in the first films.
This is a lovingly put-together work, surrounding the reproduced strips with attractive, pop art-style artwork and printed on high-quality paper with an attractive glossy paperback cover. Well worthy of a place on the shelves of any Bond fan.