The Complete James Bond: Goldfinger by Various

The Complete James Bond: Goldfinger book cover
Rating 9.5/10
I can wholeheartedly recommend this collection to fans of the novels, films and the comic strips.

The Complete James Bond: Goldfinger - The Classic Comic Strip Collection 1960-66
Written by Henry Gammidge and Jim Lawrence
Illustrated by John McClusky and Yaroslav Horak
Published by Titan Books
The second volume of the classic comic strip collection sees Ian Fleming's James Bond travel to the USA, Italy, France, Canada, Jamaica and Germany. Serialised in the 1960s before international travel was affordable by most of the British public, these comic strips must have enthralled its readership.

Former Bond actress Tania Mallet notes in her introduction that the Express comic strip was already enjoying widespread popularity. This collection marks the transition from Bond being known through the comic strip and novels to the huge cultural icon of the cinema. By 1966 (and the last stories of this volume), the Bond films starring Sean Connery, were so popular and grossed so much at the box office that this era was known as Bondmania.

Of course to enjoy mass appeal, the films altered the tone of the much darker and grittier novels. The character of Bond himself was developed into a laconic gentleman spy armed with one liners as well as his Walther PPK. This incarnation was far removed from the introspective and frayed at the edges intelligence officer that Fleming created. This is where this collection gains in importance and significance, because the Bond in these early comic strips has much more in common with the book Bond than the Bond of the films. The adventures too, are faithful to the novels. The first in this collection, Goldfinger appeared in 1961, three years before the lavish Guy Hamilton directed smash hit.

For the initiate, this is Fleming's Bond without having to delve into the books. All his mannerisms, looks, habits and faults are present. This is the Bond as described by Fleming: with the thick black hair, parted to the right, with an unruly forelock falling just above the right eyebrow. Bond has a livid vertical scar under his right eye. Blue - grey eyes, a strong jaw-line and a 'cruel mouth.' He is also a chain-smoker and a heavy drinker. Far removed from the charmer of the films!

I enjoy both the books and the films. What I love here is that another interpretation has been captured here in comic strip form. This is the Cold War - Iron Curtain era with James Bond as a fallible human being. The attitudes and social commentary reflect the 1950s and1960s and will certainly raise a few eyebrows! What was acceptable then would most certainly not be today.

The other adventures include: Risico, From a View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only, The Man With The Golden Gun and The Living Daylights. Here Bond is involved in espionage, heroin smuggling, political assassination, terrorism and revenge.

The 'blunt instrument' Fleming described is excellently conveyed in these impressive and engrossing stories. McClusky illustrated Bond from 1958 until being succeeded by Horak in 1966. This collection shows the contrast in style between the two artists. Again this will appeal to aficionados of the genre.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this collection to fans of the novels, films and the comic strips. It is an impressive volume of historical and cultural interest, showing one of the most iconic characters of the last century at his very best.

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