Wednesday, April 1, 2009

James Bond: Polestar

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of James Bond: Polestar (volume seventeen) (Titan, 2008).

At last, we've reached the end of Titan's reprints of the James Bond newspaper strip. Well, not quite... while this edition finishes up the run with the strip's final two stories from British papers, and three others which had only seen print in Europe, Titan was forced to skip over two books which should have reprinted 1970s adventures because of some unspecified problem or other, and those are due out later on. But arranged sequentially, this is book seventeen, even though it's the fifteenth published.

You can tell I don't have a lot to say about this one, can't you? There's just so little of interest here. Lawrence's work on the strip was frequently patchy, with clever ideas offset by downright dumb ones, but there's nothing in these five stories worth remembering. The artwork is uninspired and even the reliable Yaroslav Horak, returning for his first Bond stories in many years, was on autopilot. The villainous schemes are eye-rollingly silly and the plots are childishly simple.

Put another way, the baddie in the title story disposes of his enemies by stripping them naked and kicking them into the arctic snow to freeze to death. But they somehow die standing up, so that Bond can find gorgeous naked ladies in blocks of ice. Add to this trained attack bats and fake sea serpents and a "punk" rock star who wouldn't have been out of place on Quincy but commands the biggest worldwide audience you ever saw, and I can't even recommend this mess to Bond fans, only completists.

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