A secretary's terrifying visions of fire and doom, followed
by the assassination of a top scientist, put James Bond on
the trail of a vicious arms dealer. But when a young woman
and her boyfriend also become involved, will 007 be able to
discover the secret of Project Phoenix? Also in this volume,
Bond antagonises a bomber known as Mr Ruby by appearing to
be having an affair with the man's mistress; kidnaps another
villain's lover to prevent her from divulging sensitive information
she learned from her late father; and, while trying to locate
a missing agent, rescues the man's feisty girlfriend from
drowning when he finds her buried up to her neck on a deserted
should keep its press releases up to date! The one I received
with the recent Superman graphic novel The
Man of Steel - Volume 5 had a pull-quote from
a review relating to the writer of a previous volume, For
Tomorrow - Volume 2. The release for this latest
compilation of James Bond newspaper strips boldly announces
that: "The 21st Bond movie has been confirmed as Casino
Royale, for release November 2006, with Daniel Craig ...
taking over the role of 007." You heard it here last!
In other respects, though, Titan is getting ahead of itself.
This graphic novel contains the stories The Phoenix Project,
The Black Ruby Caper, Till Death Do Us Part
and The Torch-Time Affair. That means we have skipped
The Girl Machine, Beware of Butterflies and
The Nevsky Nude. This is potentially rather confusing,
since Butterflies introduced the female Double-0 agent
Suzi Kew, who reappears in both Black Ruby and Torch-Time
(though to be fair, the chapter openers do explain this fact).
Those two strips also mention SMERSH, the Russian counter-intelligence
organisation reintroduced, following a lengthy absence, in
Nevsky (though its remit seems to have changed). I
do hope Titan will get around to these stories before long.
Ah well, though we don't get to see The Nevsky Nude,
there is certainly no shortage of other nudes here! Following
the precedent set by Bond's trip to a nudist resort in Trouble
the "Lady Godiva" horse rider in Isle of Condors and
the naked ceremony in The League of Vampires, the last
three strips in this collection feature almost wall-to-wall
female nudity. However, whereas artist Yaroslav Horak previously
kept things reasonably tasteful, here bare breasts are clearly
visible throughout. Not that I'm a prude, but I'm more used
to seeing this kind of thing in the likes of Axa, Jane
and George & Lynne than in the world of James Bond.
Despite all the nudity, one bloke's trousers manage to reappear
when they shouldn't for one panel in The Phoenix Project.
A further shortcoming of Horak's art in this strip is that
the characters of Margo Arden and Jenny Starbuck look almost
identical to Miss Moneypenny and Suzi Kew respectively. The
appearance and Harlem origins of Damara Carver in The Black
Ruby Caper are also very reminiscent of Rosie Carver from
the movie Live
and Let Die, which was released just two years
before the strip was published, though Damara is a far braver
and more confident character than Rosie.
Some of the plots in this collection even seem similar to
one another. Both Jenny Starbuck and Damara Carver wish to
exonerate their disgraced fathers. In both The Black Ruby
Caper and Till Death Do Us Part Bond abducts the
main villain's lover, turning her or using her towards his
own cause. However, the tables are turned on him somewhat
(without wishing to give too much away) in the cleverly devised
Torch-Time Affair. Another flaw is that writer Jim
Lawrence seems to forget about his Starbuck plotline until
close to the end of The Phoenix Project. And why, in
the same story, doesn't Kazim simply deal with Dr Baar's betrayal
legally? However, this is otherwise a very original and enjoyable
The book also contains the second and final part of an analysis
of the Bond girls from Fleming's stories and their comic-strip
counterparts. There's no reason why this feature should not
continue in future volumes, turning its attention instead
towards the women of the original strips.
far from being the best work the Lawrence/Horak team has ever
produced, this collection is still a worthwhile project.