Friday, November 6, 2009

James Bond: The Girl Machine

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of James Bond: The Girl Machine (Titan, 2009).

By this point, everybody's familiar with what you get in these Titan editions, right? Three newspaper stories from the mid-70s, full of grandiose villainy, topless ladies, fisticuffs and great artwork by Yaroslav Horak, right? Yeah, but this time there's an extra treat. It turns out that a year or so after the strip was cancelled, the Daily Express considered relaunching it, and hired the great Ron Embleton, whom you may know from Oh, Wicked Wanda! and several Gerry Anderson strips, to illustrate twelve tryout strips.

That the project wasn't continued is a huge shame. With no disrespect to Horak, John McLusky or any of the great artists who did such a fine job with Bond over his quarter-century run in newspapers, Embleton was clearly the man who should have been drawing James Bond since the beginning. The actual content of the book is as interesting as ever - Bond's ally Suzy Kew has an awesome moment modelling undercover as a "big game hunter" - but this time out, the stunning supplementary material completely overshadows everything. Well done, Titan, uncovering this fascinating might-have-been! Recommended for older readers.

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