MI6 reviews Titan Books' newly reissued graphic novel "James Bond 007: The Golden Ghost" by Jim Lawrence and Yaroslav Horak.

"James Bond 007: The Golden Ghost" Review
30th April 2006

In the early 60's James Bond gripped the World. He was everywhere, including national newspapers. This new title in Titan’s impressive re-issue series continues with material from series three.

Bringing the daily Bond back to the public in this timeless form, the strips saw Bond fighting his foes in three panels and on the odd occasion two. Due to the unique structure of the comic strip, each had to be carefully crafted to clearly communicate location, plot and character development to the reader.

Today sees the launch of the revised Jim Lawrence and Yaroslav Horak graphic novel based on four original stories – The Golden Ghost, Fear Face, Double Jeopardy and Star Fire.

Above: Cell from Double Jeopardy

The first of the three additional features contained in The Golden Ghost is an introduction by Richard Kiel, best known for playing Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Entitled Biting Back the article is a look at how playing the role as one of the best-loved henchmen of the film series changed his life, as well as comparing the films he was involved in to the comic strip versions.

Above: Panel from "Star Fire"

The other two articles share a theme – James Bond's cars – first looking at the Fleming era followed by the cars featuring in John Gardner's books. Both articles contain box-outs with trivia on order of appearance of Fleming’s cars and Gardner’s modifications list to the SAAB 900.

The Golden Ghost
The story takes its name from an airship, about to take its maiden flight. The introduction mentions the main weakness of this original yarn, the transformation of 007 from gentleman spy to a Harry Palmer style working class hero who sprinkles his conversation with "mate" and "luv"!

"Moneypenny, me old luv", he says to M's secretary at one point in the story, although he thankfully remains deferential towards his boss, and it is difficult to read Bond’s dialogue without Michael Caine making an appearance in your head.

The plot contains more action than any of Fleming's stories and in some respects the plot is reminiscent of Moonraker.

The blame for Bond's uncharacteristic words lies squarely at the feet of writer Jim Lawrence, an American who was clearly struggling with James Bond's identity. What is inexplicable is that Lawrence must have seen Sean Connery in the role, if not George Lazenby too, and to draw from the big screen version would not only have been natural but also have provided the public with a much more familiar version of their hero. But perhaps the change of actors was the trigger to all this schizophrenia – Sean Connery returned to the role in Diamonds Are Forever the same year.

Fear Face
While The Golden Ghost is familiar, albeit original, Jim Lawrence stepped firmly into the realm of science fiction with Fear Face.

Possibly inspired by the technological leaps made for the moon landings, as well as 2001 - A Space Odyssey in 1968, Fear Face sees Bond investigating a series of murders, seemingly at the hands of a faceless robot, the "fear face" of the title.

Above: Front cover

The plot also sees Bond sheltering a double agent, on the run from MI6, but all is not as it seems. However, we are back on familiar territory as far as Bond’s dialogue goes – he has given up his previous linguistic habits.

Double Jeopardy
Another slightly far-fetched story in which some powerful figures are kidnapped by SPECTRE and replaced with surgically altered doubles. This idea was perhaps taken from the film version of Thunderball, where Duvall‘s double was used to capture the Vulcan bomber with atomic bombs.

The first crimes undertaken by the theft of some paintings and a secret chemical formula, but later SPECTRE plans on upping the stakes and wrecking relations between the Americans and Russians in a story that takes Bond to Morocco.

Star Fire
When the leader of a hippy cult curses people who criticise him, it always results in their death. James Bond is sent to investigate what – or who – is behind this strange phenomenon.

The Complete James Bond Syndicated Newspaper Checklist
Rounding off this first reissue is a checklist of every Bond newspaper strip including dates of print and reference numbers in a table format.

James Bond will return in 2006 in Trouble Spot...

Above: Cell from Fear Face

The Golden Ghost is a reasonably strong story, albeit with strong influences from Ian Fleming’s books. However, although the following three stories are interesting, they are a long way from being traditional Bond plots. However, the artwork is crisp and easily up to Horak's usual high standards and Titan's source material is mostly excellent, with just a few poor quality frames.

What is noticeable about all these stories is that they all have some scenes in the UK and both Fear Face and Star Fire do not set foot outside Britain at all, while Bond is only supposed to work aboard unless given special dispensation, as in Moonraker. As well as working outside MI6’s usual remit, it also breaks one of the golden rules of the Bond stories, discovered by Fleming after the lukewarm reception to Moonraker - always give the readers exotic locations


30th October 2006
MI6 Price $11.67
21st April 2006
MI6 Price £7.91

Images courtesy Titan Books and Amazon Associates.