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#67 (Marvel Comics #7)
'SURE AS EGGS IS EGGS'
by Dan Abnett

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Mr Milbanks, Scumlord, Tiara Hotstones, Jaws.

Synopsis: Just outside the Warfield grounds, James and his friends are enjoying the sunshine when James spots a rider who has lost control of her horse. Jumping on his bike, James rides alongside and helps the girl to safety. She introduces herself as Kalinka Rubels, the daughter of Russian special envoy Maxim Rubels, and explains she's only in Britain briefly while her father oversees the visiting Faberge Eggs exhibition. On hearing of his daughter's rescuer, Rubels sends a letter to Mr Milbanks inviting the gang to the opening of the exhibition.

That evening, at the private viewing, Rubels thanks James for his efforts. But when James spots Tiara Hotstones at the museum, he and I.Q. follow her down to the Thames, where she rows out to the middle of the water for a meeting with Scumlord, who surfaces in a minisub! She promises to steal the Faberge Eggs for him, as part of his plan to cause a diplomatic incident between Britain and Russia. Overhearing their conversation with I.Q.'s electro-binoculars, James and I.Q. rush back to the museum, where Tiara soon makes her entrance, lowering herself down from a skylight with rope and pulleys to avoid the alarms and steal the Eggs.

She escapes, and the boys just miss her, mistakenly flooring Rubels instead. When Boris, his assistant, notices that the Faberge Eggs have gone, James and I.Q. are suspects. Convincing him of their innocence, and imploring him not to complain to the British government and cause a crisis, James is granted twenty-four hours to retrieve the Eggs. Rubels sends Boris to follow him and make sure the Eggs are returned safely. At his base at Wyrmchester Castle, Scumlord orders Jaws to kidnap Kalinka to strengthen their position, so he drives to the house they're staying in and throws her in the back of a van.

I.Q. and James follow the van in the sports car back to the castle. Jaws catches them, and drags them to the throne room where Scumlord has Kalinka tied up, and is awaiting Tiara's arrival with the Eggs. However, when she arrives, Tiara is unimpressed to find that Scumlord's plan involved kidnapping teenagers. She takes her cash payment, but then throws a gas canister back into the room as she leaves, allowing James, I.Q. and Kalinka to get away.

They steal some horses from the courtyard and ride to freedom, but Jaws pursues on a motorbike, and a jousting match with fenceposts between James and Jaws ensues. Jaws is about to grab James when Boris turns up, causing a distraction and allowing James to knock Jaws to the ground with I.Q.'s binoculars. Back at the exhibition, James is annoyed that he couldn't retrieve the Faberge Eggs. Soon, however, Tiara turns up with the Eggs in tow and hands them back to him!

She explains that, since Scumlord has double-crossed her before, she gave him substitute eggs until she was sure he'd paid her properly. Tiara disappears as quickly as she arrives and, as the real Eggs are returned to Rubels, Scumlord and Jaws leave the castle by helicopter, believing their plan has worked. But there's a bad smell in the air - and they are furious to discover that the case Tiara delivered only contains real, broken eggs!


Review: The second James Bond Jr story to discuss Anglo-Russian relations (expanding on a theme alluded to in Red Star One), this is an unusual and enjoyable outing that features both a rare appearance by Scumlord, and the return of jewel thief Tiara Hotstones. Tiara is a far more complex character here than elsewhere in the series, elaborating considerably on her fondness for James that's subtly alluded to in Dance of the Toreadors. Not only does she help James escape from Scumlord's clutches, she also returns the real Faberge Eggs to him following Scumlord's defeat, suggesting that her conscience has developed a great deal since the events of Rubies Aren't Forever and Dutch Treat in which she played a far more conventional villain role. Interestingly, she doesn't mention whether or not the money Scumlord gave her was in fact all there (or indeed real), leaving open the intriguing possibility that she was paid properly but double-crossed S.C.U.M. anyway. It's also interesting that Scumlord's prime motivation for stealing the eggs appears not to be wealth, but the hope of a diplomatic crisis between Britain and Russia. This mirrors Doctor Derange's plan to create hostility between France and Russia in The Eiffel Missile, and raises the question of S.C.U.M.'s own allegiance - or is it simply a nudge towards the anarchic 'Mayhem' of the organisation's name? In the TV series, Tiara Hotstones appears to have a Russian accent whereas Scumlord's is English. Could this be the true reason behind her failure to deliver the real Eggs: to protect her own national pride and bag some cash in the process? Whatever the motivations, it seems highly unlikely that such an incident could cause any significant hostility between the two nations - surely the Russians would recognise that the British state wasn't remotely responsible for the theft. Or was it? Does S.C.U.M.'s influence go deeper than anyone ever suspected? In any case, an intriguing and enjoyable installment of the comic series.

Highs: The complexity and moral ambiguity of Tiara's character in this story is otherwise unheard of for recurring villains in James Bond Jr.

Lows:
Several rather suggestive references to 'birdwatching' are made at the beginning amidst Kalinka Rubels' horsey misadventures. They're unnecessary and a little puerile (see 'Lines to Forget').

Lines to Forget: James spots a pretty woman in trouble while 'birdwatching' through I.Q.'s binoculars: "Why, from here, I can see all sorts of endangered species!"

Gadgets & Gizmos:
I.Q.'s electro-binoculars not only allow the user to see things that are far away - they also let you hear them. Plus the infrared attachment allows night visibility. He's also programmed the onboard computer in James's car to predict where villains might be headed on the scantest of evidence. 

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: Very much so. Crucially, this is the only instance in either the TV series or the comics in which a face-to-face meeting with actual dialogue between Scumlord and James occurs. (The nearest we get in the cartoon is their glimpse of one another at the crime conference in Barbella's Big Attraction.) Even here their exchange is relatively brief, disrupted as it is by Tiara's tear gas attack - and although Scumlord speaks to James, he doesn't actually get a chance to respond. Another similarity this outing shares with Big Attraction is the significant treachery that takes place within the villains' ranks, with Tiara essentially betraying S.C.U.M. three times in succession - and this time, to help James.

O Mother, Where Art Thou:
The first of the original comic stories to feature a junior Bond girl features her important father prominently, but eschews any mention of her mother, tallying exactly with the usual modus operandi of the TV series.

Notes:
Before they're distracted by Kalinka's kidnap, James and I.Q. are seen wondering how Tiara Hotstones got her invitation to the private showing, and preparing to check the Embassy files to find out who sent it to her. Again, since she's likely a Russian character, it's quite possible she would have had a mole within the Russian Embassy.

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