18 June 2019

Review: The James Bond Omnibus, Volume 001 by John McLusky, et al.

Comic trade paperback, 303 pages
Published 2009 (contents: 1958-62)
Acquired and read June 2019
The James Bond Omnibus, Volume 001

Adapted by Anthony Hern, Peter O'Connell & Henry Gammidge
Art by John McLusky

Alongside my reading of James Bond novels, watching of James Bond films, and listening to James Bond radio dramas, I've also been reading James Bond comics. This volume collects the installments of the James Bond comic strip that ran in the Daily Express from 1958 to 1962, adapting the plots of Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever, From Russia with Love, Dr No, Goldfinger, "Risico," "From a View to a Kill," "For Your Eyes Only," and Thunderball into strips of 2-4 panels; each novel gets condensed into about 125 strips.

They're heavy on the narration and the recapping; I wouldn't say the writing of the adaptations is any great achievement. Except for Thunderball, which is massively cut down (once SPECTRE steals the plane, Bond defeats them in six strips!), the plots are pretty much intact, with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies. Because so little plot is cut, the opening of Goldfinger goes on too long just as it does in the novel; the need to communicate so much means that most conversations are disjointed and expressed in narration. In the first couple stories, the narration is in the third person, then it switches to first person from Bond for a couple, then it goes back to third for the rest. I did think the short stories from For Your Eyes Only really shone at this length; I think they have less compression, and don't feel as drawn out. They become cracking little action pieces, especially "For Your Eyes Only." I did note that these are the only Bond adaptations to maintain Fleming's careful inventories of Bond's meals; on the other hand, they change the third ingredient in the vesper from Kina Lillet to vermouth!

The art is great, though. Sharp black-and-white stuff that suits the mood of Fleming's stories admirably. John McLusky does his best with landscapes and creatures; Bond battling the occasional sea creature also looked great. His villains are grotesque, his women stylish, and his Bond cruel. I don't know that I really recommend sitting down and reading them all through in a couple days as I did, but if you're a Bond devotee (and maybe I am?), they're worth investigating.

Next Week: I'm caught up on James Bond reviews, so I'll be switching gears to catch up on my Legion of Super-Heroes comics!

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