an old friend's body is found in the Alps more than 20 years
after he disappeared, James Bond sets out to find the man's
killer, and is soon embroiled in a plot with Chinese Tongs
and Nazi gold...
This is the second volume in Titan's series of reprints of
the classic James Bond syndicated newspaper strip. The first
volume was The Man with the Golden Gun, which may seem
like a strange place to start, but in fact this is where the
strip began to get really interesting. Having successfully
augmented Ian Fleming's below-par The Man with the Golden
Gun with a new sub-plot, ghost writer Jim Lawrence added
even more to his adaptations of the short stories Octopussy
and The Hildebrand Rarity, both of which are presented
in this collection.
to string out the narrative of Octopussy to 165 daily
instalments, Lawrence retained the spirit of Fleming's morality
tale, but gave Bond a much more active role, two beautiful
females to accompany him, and a couple of extra villains to
threaten the agent's life. The women in question are Mary
Goodnight, who flirts outrageously with 007, and Trudi Oberhauser,
the daughter of the ski instructor whose body is discovered
at the beginning of the tale, in whose company Bond remains
a consummate gentleman. The additional villains are the murderous
Foo brothers, who manage a business front laundering the gold
stolen by Major Dexter Smythe, the protagonist from the original
This is a very strong strip, though it does take a while to
get going, with several panels merely re-treading Bond's insistence
that Smythe is a murder suspect and M's reluctance to accept
the theory. Conversely, the final instalment is extremely
abrupt, and more time could have been spent rounding off the
story. Still, it's a more faithful adaptation than the movie
Assigned to track down a top-secret robot submarine lost in
the Indian Ocean, Bond encounters a wife-beater called Milton
Crest and his hunt for an elusive fish known as the Hildebrand
The Hildebrand Rarity, Lawrence once again preserves
the vital core of Fleming's original story, in this case the
truly despicable Milton Krest, who remains every bit as loathsome
as ever. (He would resurface again in the movie Licence
to Kill, with his traits shared out between the characters
of Krest and Franz Sanchez.)
writer does an even better job of beefing up the story than
he did with Octopussy, seamlessly grafting on a plotline
concerning a missing robot submarine carrying a hi-tech "black
box" device called ULRAC (Underwater Long-RAnge Communication).
The pace of the narrative never lets up for a moment, while
the search for ULRAC notably predates the role played by the
ATAC device in the movie version of For Your Eyes Only.
scuba-diving theme links the two stories in this volume, while
Bond's changing attitude towards Germans seems strangely at
odds. In Octopussy, 007 has great fondness for his
German mentor and the man's daughter Trudi, whereas in The
Hildebrand Rarity Bond has little time for Krest's "Kraut"
henchmen (also new to the comic strip).
commendable common factor, though, is Yaroslav Horak's artwork,
which leads the eye effortlessly across the page throughout.
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