By Kingsley Amis (as Robert Markham), Jim Lawrence & Yaroslav Horak (Titan Books)
James Bond proves he can never die as the first of the prose “continuation novels” is magnificently adapted by the regular strip-team of Lawrence and Horak. Unbelievably, by today’s publishing practises, when Ian Fleming died in 1964, there was only the unfinished Man With the Golden Gun to be eventually released. Bond books languished on hiatus until 1968. The story of how Kingsley Amis came to write Colonel Sun is a fascinating tale, and is fully recounted in this latest graphic collection from Titan Books.
What we all want though, is chills, spills, chicks and thrills and the opening reprint from the Daily Express in 1969 is American strip veteran Lawrence’s second all-original 007 script. And what a cracker it is! In River of Death Bond has to infiltrate the Amazon River stronghold of a maniacal oriental scientist. This madman is supplying trained animals to international criminals for the purposes of robbery, espionage and murder. Horak’s intense illustration is approaching a career peak and easily copes with action, mood, cutting edge science, beautiful women and exotic locales as diverse as the Alps, Rain Forests, London’s underworld and Rio de Janeiro at Carnival time. This is James Bond at his suave and savage best.
Colonel Sun might almost have been an anti-climax after such an auspicious run by two creators on such a visionary roll, but the sheer pace, complexity and action of Amis/Markham’s only Bond novel simply encourages them to up their game.
When “M” is kidnapped and 007 is too obviously lured into a rescue attempt in the Greek Islands it leads to an unlikely alliance with Soviet agents against a mysterious third force. These devils are not beyond using Nazi War criminals to achieve their nefarious ends, and this classic Cold War Spy-romp delivers a punch with every strip.
It must have hell on the nerves to follow this adventure in short daily doses, and doubly so at the week-ends. If ever comic strips become part of the National Curriculum we can only pray that this is the calibre of material on any reading list.
Strip © Express Newspapers Ltd. 1987. All Rights Reserved.