When SPECTRE offers MI6 information about a soon-to-be-launched
nuclear-powered airship, The Golden Ghost, Bond is
sent to investigate. Is the craft really in danger, or is
Madame Spectra luring 007 into a trap...?
compilation of newspaper strips shares its title with the
first story in the collection, The Golden Ghost. It's
not a very Bondian title, unfortunately. I would have gone
for one of the later strips' titles, such as Starfire
or Double Jeopardy.
tale recycles the keelhauling sequence from Live and Let
Die, but also pre-empts several subsequent Bond storylines.
A brutal fight in the galley of The Golden Ghost is
not dissimilar to sequences in the movies Never Say Never
Again and The
(though to my mind, the one in Daylights remains the
grittiest). An airship would, of course, later be used in
View to a Kill: I couldn't help thinking of
John Barry's "Airship to Silicon Valley" music as the craft
takes to the skies.
sexual content of this tale is relatively risqué, with the
love interest, Velvet Lee, getting her tiny minidress ripped
during a confrontation with the villain, Felix Bruhl, revealing
her underwear. In line with the Bond films of the time (1971),
Bond utters a double entendre regarding the heroine's name
at the end of the story.
A strip-club dancer is apparently attacked by a man with
a blank metal face. Meanwhile, Bond seeks to clear the name
of fellow agent and former lover Briony Thorne, who is accused
of betraying secrets to the Chinese...
Face sees the first appearance of a female double-0 agent,
Briony Thorne, 0013. However, 007's decision to take the word
of this suspected traitor on the basis of the flip of a coin
is rather worrying!
insubordination is somewhat more stimulating. The punching
of Bill Tanner makes his behaviour in Licence
seem restrained by comparison.
Jim Lawrence appears to be a fan of the classic TV show The
Avengers. Not only does this story make use of humanoid
automatons that closely resemble John Steed's recurring robotic
foes, the Cybernauts, but Briony Thorne briefly assumes the
alias of Belinda Thorsen, a variation on the name of Tara
King actress Linda Thorson.
of artist Yaroslav Horak's villains look unfortunately similar
to one another, but otherwise this is an enjoyable strip.
M sends Bond to Morocco on the trail of Fritz Kumara, also
known as "Mister K", Red China's top gun. But the agent stumbles
upon a SPECTRE plot to replace high-ranking officials with
not as far-fetched as Fear Face, Double Jeopardy
shows further signs of the newspaper series aping the fantastical
elements of the Bond films. Here we see 007 using a briefcase
that fires bullets and (two years before a similar sequence
and Let Die)
doing a spot of hang gliding. As in Thunderball
SPECTRE employs plastic surgery to create doppelgangers.
author Lawrence experiences some difficulty writing British
speech patterns for Bond. The previous two strips had the
agent calling people "luv", while in this one he describes
a woman as a "bonny bird"! Not for the first time, the author's
plot hinges on an unlikely coincidence. Not that this is uncharacteristic
of 007's exploits: many of Ian Fleming's novels, such as Goldfinger,
relied on improbable happenstance.
now the villains are having a go at witty one-liners. SPECTRE
agent Pujar borrows one of Sean Connery's famous utterances
as he informs Bond that his electro-torture will be "quite
Meanwhile, Bond has a go at flashing the flesh this time,
as he spends more than half the strip in just his swimming
A series of victims are apparently slain by supernatural fire
brought down by cult leader "Lord Astro". When a CIA agent
is killed, Bond's investigations reveal that the truth is
at once more down-to-earth and more complex...
Like The Golden Ghost, Starfire (note that the
title is one word, unlike the erroneous two-word spelling
used by Titan in the introduction to this story) begins with
a suggestion of the paranormal. In the The Golden Ghost
it was a doom-laden prediction made by the witch Bridget Penwyn;
here is it the "astral fire" that is supposedly summoned by
Lord Astro. In both cases, there proves to be a rational scientific
explanation. The X-Files' Agent Scully would be proud.
still struggles a bit with his use of British English. Bond
uses the American term "airplane" and says "inquire" (whereas
a British speaker would most likely say "enquire"), while
Tanner uses the adverb form "backward" (when a British speaker
would more likely use the form "backwards").
all important respects, however, this is a strong story to
end a fine collection.
This volume also includes an introduction by Richard Kiel
(who played Jaws in The
Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker,
and so unfortunately has lots to say about the comic-strip
versions of those stories but practically nothing to say about
the strips featured here) and an article about the various
cars that Bond has driven in the novels. But these are just
the icing on what is already a rich confection.
In a disclaimer, Titan is at pains to point out that the material
reproduced here is exceedingly rare, so the quality of the
printing is variable (especially during Double Jeopardy).
Like Mr Kipling's cakes, these four original Bond adventures
are also exceedingly good.
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