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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

James Bond 007
Death Wing


Author: Jim Lawrence
Artist: Yaroslav Horak
Titan Books
RRP: £11.99, US $19.95, Cdn $24.95
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 517 0
ISBN-10: 1 84576 517 6
Available 27 July 2007

James Bond and fellow agent Lilla Kerenyi inspect the tomb of a long-dead resistance hero, but are shocked to find that he still walks! Their own near-death experience lands them in the middle of a conspiracy involving the most dangerous enemies of MI-6...

This graphic novel contains the stories When the Wizard Awakes, Sea Dragon and Death Wing, the latter two of which have never been published in the UK before, as they were never printed in a British newspaper.

When the Wizard Awakes was serialised in the Sunday Express, and the fact that it ran weekly rather than daily probably explains why it is so short - just 54 panels of three frames. The plot does feel as though it has been hacked down from a story that should be at least twice as long. Bond barely lingers in any location before zipping off to the next one, much information is conveyed in the caption boxes, and Jim Lawrence’s complex tale of deception involving not only SPECTRE and the Mafia but also the KGB is very hard to follow. The story probably took as long as it should for me, though, simply because I had to read it twice in order to understand it!

Yaroslav Horak’s art is getting a little sloppy by this point - but then, by this point he had been drawing the strip for just over a decade, so perhaps that’s understandable. There’s some bad continuity as the minor character of Janos undergoes an unintentional change of appearance: he starts off balding with dark hair and ends up with long, light-coloured hair.

This strip has some memorable moments, though, not least of which occurs early on in the story, when a dead body seems to come back to life. 007’s use of a powered hang-glider and his quip, “I’ll bet you still have one or two interesting points left to reveal” (said to an exotic dancer), should appeal to fans of the Bond movies.



Oil magnate Sir Ivor Morlock is murdered in an explosion on his private boat in the Bahamas. Bond barely manages to escape with his life - but the mystery only deepens when a second member of Morlock’s oil consortium is killed, apparently by a sea monster...

The high-tech wizardry continues unabated in Sea Dragon, which features a helicopter backpack and a submarine disguised as a sea monster. Though the latter sounds far-fetched, it’s really just a development of the phoney dragon in Dr No, while its ability to “devour” hapless victims is possibly inspired by the submarine-swallowing Liparus in the then most recent Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

Despite this strip never having appeared in a British newspaper, I wonder whether the movie production team saw it and took note of its content, as it contains elements that would resurface in subsequent Roger Moore films. The villain, Magda Mather, like Octopussy in the movie of the same name, controls a large organisation run entirely by women. The name Magda also turns up in the 1983 movie, as that of one of Octopussy’s henchwomen. The strip also features a female assassin who makes her escape by means of a parachute, a plot element that would later appear in A View to a Kill.

In appearance, Magda Mather resembles Pussy Galore, as played by Honor Blackman in Goldfinger.

Needless to say, Bond defeats this particular dragon, though notably he doesn’t slay her, as he tends to do with male villains. Sexist pig!



Bond is pitted against a gang of highly organised aerial smugglers who’d think nothing of sending him to his doom, trapped inside a falling bomb! Even with the beautiful 00 agent Suzi Kew at his side, can he derail their sinister plot of theft and assassination...?

A technologically advanced glider is the central plot element of Death Wing, in which ingenious smugglers use the device to convey people and materials in secret. 007 ends up in one of these during the gripping, action-packed finale, which would be worthy of any Bond film.

American author Lawrence continues to have difficulty with Bond’s British speech patterns, having him utter the word “blimey” on several occasions in this and the preceding strips. We even have a “crikey” from Miss Moneypenny in Sea Dragon! The writer is far more at home writing for American characters, such as the FBI agents 007 encounters here, which makes me wonder why Lawrence didn’t set his stories in the USA more often. Ian Fleming and the makers of the Bond movies had no aversion to doing just that.

The strip and indeed the volume ends with a double entendre of which Roger Moore would be proud, concerning a “debriefing”.



This volume also contains an introduction by Live and Let Die’s Madeline Smith (a rather random choice) and the first part of a feature about the (surprisingly few) Bond comics that have been published in the States.

All in all, this is a mixed bag, but worth winging your way to the bookshop to buy.

Richard McGinlay

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