The Black Ruby Caper
||19th February 1975 to
15th July 1975
||#2781 to #2897
||Herr Rubin (AKA Mr Ruby), Kurt Schall, Max / Gunter,
Isle Kreuzner, Mboto
||Damara Carver, Roanne Dreux, Suzi Kew
||Jack Nguvu, M, Moneypenny, Bill Tanner, Roscoe Carver
||Zurich, Switzerland; Montmartre, Paris, France; London,
UK; Accra, Ghana
Above: Bond is back
to being a cold hearted bastard as he uses Roanne Dreux
for his own gain, showing none of the sympathy he had
for those caught up in the previous adventure The Phoenix
Herr Rubin, better known as Mr Ruby, is in James Bond's cross-hairs.
Fellow MI6 agent Suzi Kew is on hand to assist, and 007 ruffles
Ruby's feathers by: breaking in to his Swiss chalet, shooting
him with an anaesthetic dart, photographing his cipher book,
stealing his jewellery, and framing his girlfriend Roanne Dreux
- causing Ruby to suspect she is in league with him. Bond then
sets up a fake safe house in Paris, where Suzi Kew acts as
Bond's jilted lover and provokes Ruby in to sending his men
them with photos of 007 and Roanne in a compromising position.
Ruby's goons try to kill Roanne, but the MI6 team whisk her
away just in time. It was all a setup to convince Ruby that
she was double-crossing him all along, and Bond gives her the
stolen jewellery and ticket to Rio De Janeiro as compensation
for her status as a wanted woman.
Above: The opening panel of "The
Black Ruby Caper"
The action then switches to Ghana in Africa
where Ruby is supervising the building of a statue that will
conceal a bomb. The sculptor Roscoe Carver was once wanted by
the FBI due to his connections with a bank robbery and jailbreak
staged by the Black Brotherhood of Freedom, but Ruby arranged
for him to flee the US and away from trouble. Ruby is now calling
in his payment, although Roscoe is unaware of the end game. Carver's
daughter and Harlem model Damara is anxious to know of her father's
whereabouts, and joins up with 007 to track him down via Kurt
Schall, the Rubaiyat operative who smuggled him out. With the
help of Damara and local MI6 agent Jack Nguvu, Bond infiltrates
the cover outfit (The Omar Trading Company) and discovers Operation
Black Storm - a supposed SMERSH plan to kill the President of
the Republic of Bowanda via an exploding statue, whilst framing
Ghana in an assassination plot. Bond creates a trail to the foundry
where the bronze statue is being created, which Ruby follows,
and dispatches the villain by pouring molten metal over him.
Above: Damara knows how to use her
sexuality to get what she wants.
Source To Strip
Writer Jim Lawrence over complicates this tale, which uses
too many twists and turns with little payoff. Although
each act is neat and well thought out, when combined
the bigger story fails to convey a logical plot. The
first half of the adventure, which largely revolves
around Bond convincing the villain that his girlfriend
been tipping him off for some time, is too convoluted
and could have been concluded after the initial chalet
raid. In the previous story, The Phoenix Project, Bond
a means to
but in this adventure he shows no compunction when
using it against Ruby's girlfriend. Perhaps he deems
it OK when the plan is his own, and not M's?
The adventure really gets underway once Damara Carver appears
and they are on the track of her father. Lawrence makes Bond
reference a SMERSH plot, but this is never confirmed and it
is not made clear who Ruby was ultimately working for. Bond
also makes several assumptions throughout the story which prove
incorrect. On the positive side, Lawrence brings back MI6 agent
Suzi Kew as a foil for Bond to good effect in this story, following
her debut in Beware Of Butterflies. The lead Bond girl Damara
Carver uses her sexuality in a powerful way, and is a far stronger
character compared to facsimile Rosie Carver who appeared in
the film Live And Let Die a couple of years previous to publication.
Lawrence also creates a YASO (Yet Another Spy Organisation)
in the shape of the Rubaiyat, which we can only assume is dissolved
at the end of this adventure. In a nice nod to Bond's backstory,
Lawrence makes reference to his Scottish heritage in the third
strip of the story.
Above: One of the better action
scenes by artist Yaroslav Horak as Bond takes out
Yaroslav Horak's artwork is hit and miss
in this adventure. The backdrops for the three main locations
researched, especially the African settings and local characters.
But unusually for Horak, his action sequences oscillate
between iconic brilliance (Bond vaulting on his flip stick)
and bland (any of the shootouts). His depiction of the
main players is also patchy, with the stunning Damara easily
the bland (but still beautiful) Roanne, and the main villain
Ruby looking slightly unreal. Fans of Horak will not be
disappointed by one aspect though, as both the main girls
topless or naked for the most part.
Damara Carver: "Call it a cultural exchange programme! Later on at the hotel,
we can lay out all the specifics in black and white!"
Q-Branch has developed a vaulting pole which conveniently folds
down into 'flipstick' of telescopic sections, and also acts
as a spring gun that fires anaesthetic darts. The name of Ruby's
bodyguard changes from Max to Gunter at the start of the story.
The opening panel of the story goes back to the two cell format
following the experiment with a title card in the previous
Publisher: Titan Books
Released: 23rd February 2007
Titles Included: "The Phoenix Project", "
The Black Ruby Caper", "
Till Death Do Us Apart", "
The Torch-Time Affair"
"The Phoenix Project"
by Titan Books
Newspaper Strips Index
All Comics Articles
Images courtesy Titan Books and Amazon Associates.