Following a fruitless search for Ernst Stavro Blofeld and
his sinister organisation SPECTRE, James Bond finally enjoys
a change of fortune. He finds himself ingratiated with the
Mafia, back on Blofeld's trail and in love with a beautiful
first two volumes of Titan's reprints of the Daily Express
strip cartoon seemed to be in the process of working their
way through the strip's third series of adventures. For some
reason, though, volume three steps back to the second series,
which comprised Henry Gammidge's adaptations of the Ian Fleming
novels On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only
never mind, because OHMSS is probably the strongest
story that Fleming ever wrote (as actor George Lazenby acknowledges
in his introduction to this collection). Gammidge wisely remains
extremely faithful to the Fleming original, just as the makers
of the 1969 movie would ultimately choose to do. As a result
(as Paul Simpson comments in his own introductory text), some
of John McLusky's artwork looks almost like storyboards for
the eventual film. In particular, the character of Marc-Ange
Draco looks remarkably like Gabriele Ferzetti, the actor who
would play him on the big screen.
aspect of Fleming's novel that Gammidge actually manages to
improve upon is the absence of Tracy during the Gloria Klub
segment. The writer provides a very good reason for this,
with Tracy checking into a clinic of her own.
that the movie has over both the strip and the novel, however,
is 007's discovery of the true purpose behind Blofeld's programming
of the Gloria Klub girls. The strip slows down considerably
when M calls in the scientists Franklin and Leathers to solve
this puzzle, whereas in the film Bond finds most of this stuff
out while in the field. An additional storytelling problem
is that Gammidge is forced to rely on a lot of description
and "thinks" panels near the beginning of the story in order
to convey Bond's depth of feeling for Tracy.
However, these are relatively minor points that only slightly
detract from an otherwise excellent yarn.
To get 007 out of a rut, M sends him on an apparently hopeless
mission to gain access to the Japanese government's enviably
efficient decoding device, Magic 44. To do so, Bond must brave
the mysterious Dr Shatterhand and his "Garden of Death"...
OHMSS and You Only Live Twice provide interesting
grounds for comparison and contrast. OHMSS preceded
Twice in the novel series, but this order was reversed
when the books were adapted for the big screen. Whereas the
OHMSS film stayed faithful to the plot of the book,
the movie version of Twice only retained its Japanese
setting, some of its characters and a few other ideas.
Unlike the movie, the strip serialisation of You Only Live
Twice sticks fairly closely to Fleming's original story.
Film fans may recognise the names of the characters "Dikko"
Henderson (though here he is an Australian), the Ama diving
girl Kissy Suzuki and "Tiger" Tanaka, with his ninja training
school, but don't expect any space capsules or hollowed-out
volcanoes to show up in this adaptation! Having said that,
Gammidge dispatches the villain in a more spectacular fashion
than Fleming did in the book, and he tightens up the plot
by dispensing with some of the novelist's background detail
concerning Japanese culture, including Bond's haiku.
must say that I don't find John McLusky's art to be as crisp
or clean as that of his successor, Yaroslav Horak. Nevertheless,
this remains a commendable collection.
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