The Phoenix Project
||23rd September 1974 to
18th February 1975
||#2656 to #2780
||Kazim, Nelson Gregg (AKA George Ness), Mirza, Achmet,
||Margo Arden, Tom Thorp, Dr Hendrix Baar, Ogle, Jack
Donner, Jenny Starbuck
||H.M. Defence Research Laboratories, UK; London, UK;
Yesilkoy Airport, Istanbul, Turkey; Bahcekoy, Belgrade
Above: Dr Baar has a nasty surprise
in store when a saboteur decides he has been peddling
his Phoenix Suit technology to too many potential buyers
(note: the doctor's name is misspelled 'Barr" in this
cell, conflicting with all other instances where 'Baar'
A woman in charge of security clearances for a new defence technology
is on holiday in Istanbul when she is unwittingly hypnotized
into later adding a rogue party to the list. The recurring
nightmares of a ghostly figure bursting in to flames haunt
her every night. Later, when the Phoenix - a new suit
of armour made from bonded boron filaments that protects the
wearer against fire, bullets and explosions - is demonstrated
by its inventor Dr Hendrix Baar, things go horribly wrong.
The suit has been sabotaged and the doctor is killed. The
rogue spectator 'George Ness' then makes his escape, killing
Margo Arden and destroying the evidence.
Above: The opening panel of "The
The trail is picked up by James Bond in London
where he attempts to interrogate Margo's holiday tour guide
by blackmailing him about his past, but he is killed before he
talk by the same mysterious spy. With the last known lead dead,
Bond travels to Istanbul and teams up with female Agent Hafford
to pursue Kazim - a known arms dealer who Dr Baar is suspected
of meeting before offering the Phoenix Suit to the British. Bond
coerces his way into Kazim's inner circle by taking out their
(coincidental) attacker Jack 'Tex' Donner, and is ordered to
take care of the American couple who have been annoying Kazim.
The American woman is Tex's fiancee Jenny Starbuck,
who is on a quest to get Kazim to admit to framing her father
Starbuck for the theft of a space tracking device from the Houston
Space Centre. Kazim amuses her by informing her he sold it on
to the Russians, knowing full well he will have Jenny killed
before she can tell her story. Bond is eventually exposed as
a double-agent by Kazim's henchmen and makes good his escape
from the burning villa by using a fully-working
Phoenix suit which Kazim was hoping to sell after monopolizing
Above: Jenny Starbuck spends most of
the adventure stripped to her undies - not that Tex or Bond
mind, of course.
Source To Strip
Jim Lawrence creates yet another sci-fi MacGuffin device
for James Bond to chase after, but this time around
the technology is reasonably well grounded. Unlike
previous stories by Lawrence where early plot elements
fade out, the Phoenix Suit is crucial to the
end of the adventure.
There is a small echo of Ian Fleming's
experiment with "The Spy Who Loved Me" as Lawrence puts
the first third of the adventure from the perspective
of Margo - with James Bond entering the story later. The
time is well spent and Lawrence places plot strands
which are tied together neatly at the story's conclusion.
Lawrence also gives Bond so old-fashioned spying to do,
even planting a bug at one point.
Some of Bond's uncharacteristic American-isms have been toned
down, and he is back to speaking the way a British agent should
- for the most part. M is also back to his old self, coldly
ordering Bond to a slimy blackmail job. Unusually, there is
not a strong female character in this adventure, and MI6 agent
Hafford really serves only for Bond's titillation at the end
of the adventure.
Artist Yaroslav Horak is back on form with The Phoenix Project,
delivering his imitable blend of unusual perspectives, strong
characterizations and punchy action sequences. The strips feature
some iconic cells which are some of Horak's best work from
the latter adventures, particularly the fight scene with Tex.
depiction of Nelson Gregg as a wily, scarred British gun-for-hire
is very much the antithesis
of Bond and perfectly captures his character from his first
appearance onwards. Horak also shows restraint with the sci-fi
elements of the suit, giving it a reasonably realistic appearance.
For the first
time in the series, Horak uses the opening strip as an abstract
adventure to come.
Above: Artist Yaroslav Horak
at his best - Bond disarms Tex
Bond: "If I understand you, sir - you're asking me to squeeze this wretched
bloke, Ogle - over a dirty little episode in his past"
M: "Not 'asking' you, 007 - telling you! So spare me your sentimental drivel!"
Bond shows he has some pidgin Turkish, and can recognise the
American couple are from Texas from 'that Felix Leiter twang'.
It takes over a month's worth of daily strips to set the story
up for Bond's appearance, and Bond has to wait
until the penultimate strip of the adventure before he gets
lucky. This is the first adventure to use
a teaser strip at the beginning of the story. The full compliment
of MI6 staffers are present: M, Moneypenny and Bill Tanner.
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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Images courtesy Titan Books and Amazon Associates.