James Bond Omnibus: Volume 2 by Ian Fleming

8/10 A good introduction to Fleming's original stories.

Adapted by Henry Gammidge and Jim Lawrence; Art by John McLusky and Yaroslav Horak

The daring James Bond is back in a definitive bumper edition collecting Ian Fleming’s earliest literary adventures in comic strip form! Seven of Bond’s most thrilling and dangerous missions appear in a single volume: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Living Daylights, Octopussy, The Hildebrand Rarity and The Spy Who Loved Me!

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The first omnibus of James Bond newspaper strips brought us adaptations of Ian Fleming’s original stories presented in the same order in which the books were published, from Casino Royale through to Thunderball.

This second omnibus begins where the first ended, with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The collections bring together the long running newspaper strips which ran daily and originally consisted of just two or three panel instalments. It is surprising just how well the stories flow as a continuous narrative considering the brevity of the original format, the transition is barely noticeable.

The cover advertises the strips as being “based on the novels that inspired the movies”. In fact, unlike the film adaptations, the strips are in most cases true to Fleming’s original stories to the extent that anyone familiar with them will find little new here.

Probably the most interesting elements of this book for the seasoned Bond reader will be the presentation of some of Fleming’s short stories and, in particular, the full length novel The Spy Who Loved Me. The Bond tale least representative of Fleming’s body of work is in its original form a character piece and in order to make the tale compelling as a bite-sized daily strip much of the characterisation has been omitted while originally minor plot details have been elaborated upon in order to sustain the action.

For anyone not already familiar with Bond, or only familiar with the film franchise, these books provide a good introduction to Fleming’s original stories. The novels themselves would of course provide the truest example of his work, but the black and white newspaper print, line drawings and textured paper of the James Bond Omnibuses comprise a pulp pleasure well worth investigating for Bond fans new and old.

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