Till Death Do Us Part

Publisher: Daily Express
Released: 7th July 1975 to
14th October 1975
Serial: #2898 to #2983
Artist: Yaroslav Horak
Writer: Jim Lawrence

Data Stream
Villains: Stefan Radomir, Vlad, Nichevo (KGB), Onyegin (KGB)
Bond Girls: Ardra Petrich
Allies: M, Moneypenny, Tanner
Locations: Chateau, Austria; Alpine Ski Lodge (MI6 safe house), Austria; London, UK; Zinkenbach, Austria; British Embassy, Austria

Above: Bond stops short of knocking Ardra out when he 'rescues' her from the clutches of double-dealing Radomir.

Ardra Petrich is the daughter of a prominent MI6 agent and, unbeknownst to her, the target of cold war factions. Her father's work as East European section chief exposed him to invaluable intelligence, and the intentions of her new lover Stefan Radomir are not strictly honourable. MI6 attempts to grab Ardra, but she flees to Austria and in to her lovers arms. James Bond is sent to forcibly extradite her before she unwittingly spills the beans to the enemy. Despite using every gadget in his all terrain vehicle, Bond fails to get clear of the Austrian border and has to go to ground.

Above: The opening panel of "Till Death Do Us Part"

Ardra suspects 007 is under orders from M to seduce her and bring her back to England, and Bond is so disgruntled by the plan (it is never made clear if they were his actual orders) he threatens to walk out and leave her to her own devices. Overhearing her lover - who is an undercover Bulgarian secret police officer - offering to sell her to a group of KGB agents for $25,000 tips the balance, and Ardra supports Bond in his efforts to thwart Radomir and get her back, willingly, to the safety of Britain.

Above: Ardra sets up the a landmine for Moneypenny's revelation at the end.

Source To Strip
With the exception of a Q-branch vehicle, writer Jim Lawrence keeps Bond's feet firmly on the ground in this taught espionage tale. Bond's mission to grab an unwitting British citizen from the clutches of the enemy on foreign soil is a more realistic approach to the 00-section, and Bond's skills are well exercised with brutal hand-to-hand combat, expert driving skills, stealth, evasion, social coercion and bluff.

The aforementioned vehicle may seem ludicrous, but it would have been well-suited for the Roger Moore era of films, especially as this strip was released a year after the flying car in "The Man With The Golden Gun". Barring the odd 'luv' here and there, Bond's dialog is fitting and Americanism's are refreshingly scant.

Of all the later strips penned by Lawrence, Till Death Do Us Part comes closest to the style of Fleming's short stories. The strip concludes with a sharp twist that really punctuates the cold-war feeling, although it is left to the reader to decide whether Moneypenny's suspicion is correct. Would Bond have really shot a fake KGB agent in strip 2943?

Artist Yaroslav Horak is back on form in this adventure, with a high-quality blend of exquisite characterisation, punchy action sequences, atmospheric locations and interesting ways of framing dialog scenes. Horak's portrayal of the main players is realistic and perfectly suit their characters. Bond is depicted as a world-weary agent who gets the job done by gritting his teeth, much like Timothy Dalton's portrayal in the opening sequence of The Living Daylights.

Above: Horak's clever method of depicting sirens conveys the police threat

The action scenes are top notch, particularly the opening vehicle chase - which is handled with aplomb despite the slightly wacky Q-branch amphibious car concocted by Lawrence. One feature of particular note is Horak's use of concentric circles to denote the approaching police sirens to readers - without actually featuring any of their cars until after Bond is clear of the danger. As with most of the later strips, Horak features the lead girl in topless nudity for the most part, perhaps in this case acting as a metaphor of her lack of trust for 007. She becomes clothed once she accepts his story.

Best Line
Ardra: "Wh-who are you?"
Bond: "Sorry I've no calling card with my name - I usually go by number."

Gadgets: Amphibious vehicle (car, boat, hot air balloon); anaesthetic nerve gas gun in car trunk

M gets called on the carpet in Whitehall to explain why a complaint has been filed by the Austrian police against Bond's kidnapping of Ardra. Bond's reputation is getting a bit ahead of him - Radomir knows of Bond's identity the second he sees him, and Ardra knows of Bond's romantic prowess through her father's past remarks about MI6.

MI6 Rating


Available Now!

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

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