Feb 24, 2007

Bond Is Back!

...as the trailers used to say. But this time, in comic form! The latest release in Titan's ongoing series of James Bond newspaper strip reprints is in stores now. The Phoenix Project (not expected in stock at Amazon until May 1) reprints several Bond strips from the mid Seventies. Unlike the first eight volumes in the series, The Phoenix Project, like the last two (The Golden Ghost and Trouble Spot), is of particular note to 007 completists because instead of adaptations of the novels, it presents original Bond adventures by writer Jim Lawrence. Artist Yaroslav Horak again provides the illustrations. Flipping through the book, what stands out immediately is the copious female nudity. There were glimpses in the last volume, but in this one it seems like there are breasts on every page. I guess by 1974 British newspapers were a lot more liberal than American ones about what could appear in their comic strips! It seems kind of strange that the strips would be so adult-oriented just as the movies, at the height of the Moore era, were becoming increasingly more kid-friendly.
In addition to the title story, this volume reprints The Black Ruby Caper, Till Death Do Us Part and The Torch-Time Affair. It's also got an introduction by Bond girl Tania Mallet (Tilly Masterson in Goldfinger), which proves among the more interesting and better-written of the Bond girl introductions to these books (but still has little to do with the comics), and more informative individual introductions to each story. In the back of the book, Titan touts Nightbird as being the next title in the series, which would make sense chronologically. But Amazon has a listing for Death Wing instead, using the same cover image! That would mean skipping a few stories, but there is precedent for that when Titan couldn't locate original strips in good enough clarity to reproduce.
Titan's Bond volumes, along with their Modesty Blaise collections, are essential reading for spy fans.

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