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James Bond #5 gets the adrenaline pumping in the leadup to the concluding issue of the VARGR storyline. What could have been a meandering 24 pages of explanations, revelations, and set-up is really an action-packed, brisk read with critical tidbits communicated so the reader knows where Bond will be heading for the final lap of his mission, and why.
Everyone knows that Bond survives his missions. He isn’t the sort of character franchises kill off only to resurrect a few months or years down the road. 007 is, essentially, immortal, but without the cheap shock value of ‘deaths’ that will clearly be reversed shortly thereafter by fantastical means. Part of the fun is witnessing how he remains alive despite the odds, with special joy provided in discovering how he flees traps laid out by his enemies.
The title to this 9th and final story included in Omnibus 004 is a bit of a misnomer. More accurately, it is a collection of a term, name, and colour that together combined make it sound as if Bond will be involved in an adventure with a heist as its focal point, be it as an agitator or protector of whatever is sought after. The caper in question is only fleetingly important and dealt with very early in the story as Bond and Kew successfully retrieve from Herr Rubin’s office a little book with information protected by code language that requires demystification.
Writer Kim Lawrence makes a strange decision for the latest newspaper strip story by keeping James Bond set firmly on the home front. When prompted to describe what about the 007 brand that attracts its fans, they will be quick to add ‘globe trotting’ to the list of fantastic activities they would love to emulate. As such, having 007 spend an entire adventure in Britain seems counter-productive to expanding on the character’s mythos. From a visual standpoint, Yaroslav Horak is held back from letting his imagination go with exotic flavours, restricted to conveying the English countryside mostly.
Some astute fans of the James Bond film franchise (as well as those that do not hold it in high regard) will point out that in a plethora of adventures, 007 is frequently sent off by M to investigate one thing, only for an extraordinarily convoluted and lucky series of events leading Bond to handle a completely different sort of threat by the climax. Even in the best of Bond adventures, this is a storytelling technique that is by now long accepted as just the way things are done sometimes.
It is interesting to note that the second and presumably final issue predominantly concerned with exposition arrives in December. Fans have been given two months to test the waters with the new series, get into the exceptional artwork, see Bond do his thing just a little bit and take in a fair amount of exposition. One gets the underlying sensation that by issue 3, which arrives in early January, things will really start flying…or exploding…or doing whatever crazy things Bond is best known for. Ellis and Masters have our attention. In the New Year it will be time to deliver the goods.
The fifth story in Titan Book’s James Bond Omnibus 004 is the real standout thus far a bevy of brilliantly creative reasons. For starters, the above synopsis barely scratches the surface of what transpires throughout this whirlwind, politically relevant (for the time, anyways) action-packed adventure. Whereas the previous story, Die With My Boots On, was too short for its own good, The Girl Machine aims for the opposite, proving to be the longest strip in the book up until this point.
Die With My Boots On is curiously much shorter than the other stories featured in Omnibus volume 004. Whereas most of the adventures last approximately 30 pages, Boots concludes barely 20 pages in. Preliminary research has not disclosed the reasons for this, but whatever the logic behind the decision, it produces a Bond adventure that sorely could have used an extra few pages to flesh out the climax.