If you’re a comic book fan, Bond fan or a history-phile you’ll love the recently released The James Bond Omnibus Volume 004. It’s an incredible primer for the upcoming James Bond movie Skyfall, comes at a perfect time as October 23rd marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, the first 007 film, and provides compelling examples of just how far the character has come over the years.
This book collects weekly comic strips originally printed in the Daily Express newspaper from 1971 to 1975 with art by Yaroslav Horak and stories by Jim Lawrence. The comic strips follow James Bond through 9 story arcs (the entire series lasted 52 story arcs over 25 years) which pit Bond against a vampire cult, have him seeking “The Box” or generally carousing with hot chicks that’ll nearly always double cross him.
Similar to the Flash Gordon comic strip I reviewed earlier this year, these strips follow a formula. Typically it starts with Bond getting involved with a scantily clad woman, going on an adventure and then beating the villain (usually by simply doing something on the fly). It always concludes, similar to the pre-Daniel Craig James Bond films, with Bond ending up with the girl and the girl expressing her need to bang the hell out of him. Conventional formula aside, Bond gets into some extravagantly hairy situations in this book, which are exciting and usually surprising.
The only criticism I could find is the pace of each comic strip. Since these comic strips are typically two to three panels per strip the story does move slowly and it does repeat itself quite a bit in order to fill in those readers who didn’t see the last issue. After the first few pages though you’ll ease into the formula and ride the wave of Bond badassery.
In the chart above you’ll see a breakdown of the average martinis, conquests and kills per James Bond film. It’s safe to say the comic strip version has far less kills and martinis (you’ll be surprised how rare it is to see a death) but he always gets the a conquest. If a bar was added to represent this book it’d read 13 conquests at the very least. My guess is drinking and killing may have been frowned upon in the comic strip format, but boy is there a lot of sexy ladies.
To count the ways this book amazed, let’s break down the top five reasons why James Bond is and always will be awesome.
These comic strips deliver nudity, sexual situations and sometimes laughably awesome plot elements. Each of the 9 stories contain at least one strip tease, but for those of you who are faint of heart or grew up in a convent — there are no actual sex scenes. It goes without saying James Bond has always been about the Bond girls and his sexual escapades. Sadly the movies are PG-13, which means no nudity. Even the much darker 200 million dollar Skyfall is PG-13. Maybe one day we’ll be lucky enough to get a tinsy bit more adult James Bond, at least when it comes to sex and nudity.
A good example of the comic strip infusing sex into its story is Bond uncovering some kind of mind control over sexy women. Of course the bad guy claims it’s to relax them, but later Bond finds out the hard way that some kitty cats don’t play nice.
In another comic strip Bond catches a woman lurking around. Why of course he requires her to strip down for him!
To find The Box, Bond must find the wife of a dead KGB agent who just so happens to be living in a nudist colony. Bond’s girl states, “What better place for a girl to avoid notice than a nudist camp?” Is that because no one’s looking at faces? Makes sense, plus we get a super sexy location for Bond to do detective work.
In another comic strip, a very Penguin-esque villain demands Bond’s girl be whipped in the nude in order for her to reveal her secrets. Of course, Olga tells the villain she can’t possibly do any whipping until she strips down herself. Stupid clothing — it’s so cumbersome!
Probably the most outrageous nudity I came across in this book is the opening strips of the Isle of Condors story arc, where Bond nearly runs over a Lady Godiva analogue; a naked woman on a horse. A naked woman on a horse is quite possibly the most obvious symbolism for sex that I’m aware of. (Or is that donkeys?) Being the chivalrous man that he is, Bond rescues the woman and tells her he’ll help her out of her predicament, with constant allusions to getting it on once that’s over and done with.
“I’ll show you what hung like a horse really means, my dear.”
James Bond has always been about the action sequences and set pieces. Part of the fun of watching or reading James Bond is watching a dapper gentleman kick some ass. Seeing Bond calmly enter a room and take out 5 assassins, then sip a martini without breaking a sweat exemplifies why he’s that damn cool. Though this collection of strips does stray towards more of a nudity first, plot second mentality, there are some exciting action sequences that shouldn’t be missed.
I seriously can’t believe that throughout 22 James Bond flicks — not one has introduced a Vampire sex cult. Come on Hollywood!
How about James Bond fighting a puma? Bond always was good at slaying pussy.
Hell, you even get a gadget car in these comic strips! Q doesn’t make any appearances (Can any Bond fanatics tell me if Q was a movie creation? Let me know in the comments) and there’s a lack of gadgets throughout the series, but heck it was the 70’s. Maybe Bond hadn’t acquired them yet in the mythos. In all of these stories Bond is either in the middle of a mission or just about to start one. He’s never at headquarters hanging around.
Or how about James Bond operating a crane…versus a helicopter!
The sequence that will blow your mind however pits James Bond’s versus a mermaid.
You’d think, considering many of the Bond films have a sense of humor, these strips were half joking with a few of the situations seen above; surprisingly there’s not much humor within. Instead of being tongue-in-cheek, the mermaid is understood as real; a set-up figure to ensnare Bond within a trap. There are no Scooby Doo, “It was Old Man Smithers all along!” endings in this compilation.
3. Detective Work
In these strips Bond generally follows a lead until he beats the villain or finds what he’s looking for. However, there are instances of him being a badass detective. It should come as no surprise that these moments are rare; the man was never a Sherlock Holmes type, and how can you blame him when a gun and a sick karate chop is usually enough for the job?
4. James Bond is human.
Throughout this book James Bond makes mistakes. He’s a man after all. If he does have a super power it’d be to the power to make the right decision at the last possible moment. I found it refreshing when Bond made mistakes in these comic strips, sometimes really stupid ones, because it’s easy to forget he’s human. The mistakes also heighten the tension and keeps things interesting. If he was superhuman these bumbling bad guys wouldn’t even stand a chance.
One incident, which quite frankly is embarrassing, see’s Bond get taken out by a rock.
If this ever happened in a movie I’m pretty sure many Bond fans would be disgusted. Considering Skyfall appears to be showing a broken James Bond who can no longer hit a target, maybe this is something we should prepare for: a fallible James Bond. Most likely the movie version won’t be as easily stopped however so we can rest easy. Chucked stones should probably never beat a gun wielding Bond after all.
5. Bond gets the girl. Every time.
James Bond lives every man’s fantasy life: The ability to beat any enemy without breaking a sweat, drink 10 martinis, save their country and then sweep a lady off her feet is something most men can only dream about. This is largely because it’s impossible, but you can’t blame a man for dreaming.
Ah the swinging 70’s aka the decade nobody needed a reason to get jiggy wit it.
Each of the 9 story arcs ends the same way: with Bond getting the girl, sometimes a girl you didn’t even expect. In one strip, Bond breaks social taboos (it was the 70’s after all) and hooks up with a black woman. That’s all well and good, but the dialogue is a bit odd when read in 2012. You be the judge:
Somebody cue up Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s Ebony and Ivory.
The Bond films have always been about the machismo, but even considering this was the swinging seventies the overt chauvinism and portrayal of women as objects is pretty hard to ignore. Albeit it’s more than likely the audience was predominantly men who hung out in stuffy cigar rooms. If you can get past this issue and enjoy the comic strips for what they are, representations of the male ideal in the 1970’s with a thick layer of action, you’ll enjoy them immensely.
Of course, what would Bond be without the sex appeal? It adds a sense of humor to a very serious job. One of my favorite lines from the films comes from Tomorrow Never Dies when Bond says, “I always enjoyed learning a new tongue.”
Moneypenny replies, “You always were a cunning linguist, James.”
You Don’t Need 5 Reasons
It’s safe to say the Daniel Craig Bond films are moving towards a darker place, but that doesn’t mean these five reasons won’t continue to apply. This film property recently came off a disappointing release with Quantum of Solace and its producers know they can’t deliver another stinker so at the very least it’ll be a competent and entertaining movie.
Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, hits theaters this Friday. To celebrate the character and his history, it’s highly recommended to pick up the sexy, savvy and incredibly satisfying The James Bond Omnibus Volume 004.