#72 (Marvel Comics #12)
Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Scumlord, Dr Derange, Dr No, Goldfinger, Captain Plank, Baron von Skarin, Ms Fortune, Snuffer, Jaws, Nick Nack, Odd Job, Skullcap.
Synopsis: A winter break in the mountains comes to a sharp close for James when, as leaving his hotel, he's accosted by Nick Nack, who tries to shoot him. Escaping through the window, James scoots down the slopes on I.Q.'s bullet-proof suitcase, as Skullcap appears in a snowmobile. Seeing the lake ferry on a jetty up ahead, James flies straight onto it as the boat pulls away from the dock. Skullcap, meanwhile, plunges into the lake. As the boat continues, James notices a submarine lurking under the lake surface - it's Walker D. Plank, who fires a torpedo towards the ferry.
James and Tracy escape and drive to the train station, where they meet I.Q. and have a close shave with Odd Job, whose flying hat just misses them. On the train, they're accosted by Goldfinger, who traps them in the buffet car and explains the situation: Scumlord has put a bounty on James's head and the various members of S.C.U.M. are now vying to be the one to finish him off. It's soon apparent that Goldfinger is working with Baron von Skarin, whose blimp grabs their train carriage from the tracks and lifts it high into the air.
At Calais, they meet Gordo, who offers to take them across the Channel in a CIA hydrofoil. Doctor No is also on the water, though, in a hovercraft armed with machine guns. James destroys the hovercraft with a heat-seeking missile, and a dishevelled No calls Scumlord from the lifeboat, warning him that all the agents have failed and that he will have to deal with Bond himself. At Dover, the customs official turns out to be Jaws, but James batters him with his suitcase and they all hop in the sports car for the final stretch.
Review: It's never clear from the series why, given James's repeated defeats of S.C.U.M. over the years, they never go after him directly as an end in itself. Even the unusual stories based in and around Warfield, Hostile Takeover and Friends Like These, had nothing to do with removing James per se, and rather focused on S.C.U.M.'s infiltration of the secret service and NATO respectively. So this final comic story provides a fitting end to the franchise - an 'all-villain special' ensues, as the organisation finally turns all its efforts on its most enduring antagonist. This results in a degree of circularity as, like in The Beginning, a new term is starting at Warfield - paving the way for future adventures that were sadly never to be. While the basic idea is a good one, the finer details of the story are sometimes poorly thought out; some of the myriad S.C.U.M. agents Bond encounters on his journey home are dispatched with almost slapstick ease within three or four frames, somewhat trivialising what would otherwise be a unique and perilous situation (see 'Lows' in particular). There's very little opportunity for characterisation because of the amount of action that has to be included in order to fit everybody in, so it may have been advisable to go for fewer villains and longer sequences for each. The novelty factor of having so many villains in one story makes this a must for diehard fans, but aside from that there's nothing outstanding. That said it's undeniably an action-packed outing, and would certainly have benefited from an on-screen treatment.
Highs: As usual, it's left to the verbose Mr Goldfinger to explain the plot for those who hadn't already worked it out themselves - and he actually does it fairly well.
Gadgets & Gizmos: James exhibits a slew of I.Q.'s inventions on his journey, not least: bullet-proof suitcase and socks, mini scuba, anti-bug toothpaste, a miniature telemetry disruptor (it deflects missiles), an electromagnet, a miniature parachute, and a vial of 'industrial strength contact adhesive' (it disables combine harvesters). Meanwhile Gordo's ultra-responsible dad Felix is more than happy to lend his son a hydrofoil sporting heat-seeking missiles, which make short work of Doctor No.
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