Site hosted by Build your free website today!

James Bond Jr Online


Corriere dei Piccoli / Corrierino 1993 #37
('Il Mistero del Raggio-Barriera')
by Federica Montanari

Featuring: James, IQ, Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Mr Milbanks, Dr Derange, Skullcap.

Synopsis: At Warfield, IQ excitedly tells James and Tracy that he's been invited to Paris to work with a group of international scientists who've taken an interest in his work on 'barrier beams', as they are also involved in this area of research. James jokingly warns IQ that Paris offers a lot of distractions. A few days later, Gordo tells James he's starting to miss IQ a bit; James replies that with all IQ's clutter in their room, it's like he's always here with him. Gordo looks at IQ's plans for the barrier beam projector, which James explains is capable of forming a barrier of impenetrable force around an object or location. Tracy appears at the door, and asks what it would be used for; James explains it could be used as a protective shield for anything.

Tracy tells James that her father wants to see him; and in his office, Milbanks admits to the trio that he's worried about IQ, having not heard from him in several days. James admits he hasn't heard from IQ either, but says he's probably just immersed in his experiments. But Milbanks reports that he called the hotel in Paris where IQ is staying, and that they haven't seen him in several days. Milbanks wants to notify the police if he doesn't hear from him soon, so James says he'll try to make contact. Outside in the corridor, Phoebe approaches and complains to the others that IQ didn't even phone her on her birthday. James decides this isn't like IQ, and wonders if something has happened to him.

Back in his room, James and Tracy search for the telephone number of the research centre IQ is visiting - but at that moment, IQ's computer turns on by itself. A message appears on the screen, which James decides must be from IQ, which reads, 'Help! We are prisoners of Derange!' Tracy wants to tell Milbanks, but James says they need to be careful, and thinks they should take care of it themselves. He goes to see Milbanks himself, and tells him he's just heard from IQ, who wants him and Tracy to go and visit in Paris for the weekend. Milbanks agrees to this. Meanwhile, at the research centre in Paris, Dr Derange warns IQ that he's seen his mayday message, as the computers are all online.

Derange tells IQ that if his friends turn up in Paris, Skullcap will take care of them. Derange then tells all the scientists he's holding hostage to get to work - the barrier beam technology must be ready as soon as possible. With it, Derange plans to imprison entire cities within force-fields, forcing governments to pay ransoms for their citizens' freedom. Meanwhile, James and Tracy have arrived at Le Havre by hovercraft, and hop on a motorbike to make the three-hour journey to Paris. Skullcap, however, is following them on a bike of his own, and begins to shoot at them. James takes an off-road shortcut through the countryside, but Skullcap's gunfire blows one of his tyres, and James loses control.

The motorbike runs straight into the back of a truck filled with hay, and Tracy and James get a soft landing. But Skullcap overshoots and flies over the truck, landing in a hen coop where he is pecked by chickens. James and Tracy continue their journey to Paris, where James uses his watch to track the location of IQ's matching timepiece. They eventually locate the research centre, but it's heavily guarded by SCUM henchmen. So James heads onto the roof of the building next door, and uses a grappling hook to create a tightrope spanning the two buildings, which he inches along underneath to reach the roof of the research centre. James smashes through a skylight, just as Derange is planning to test out the barrier beam on Paris.

James asks if IQ's okay, then tussles with Skullcap, overcoming him with a karate chop. Derange tells James he's ruined his plans again, but promises IQ will pay for it, and takes him hostage as he escapes the building. Shouting after IQ to assure him he'll take of things, James spots his friend's barrier beam projector device on the desk, and realises it could come in handy. Outside, Tracy tells James she has seen Derange escape with IQ in a van, so James tells her to drive the motorbike in pursuit, while he rides on the back with the projector. James fires the device, so that when Derange tries to turn the van left, an impenetrable forcefield stops him from doing so, much to IQ's amusement.

James continues to force Derange into a particular route by blocking off avenues of escape with the barrier beam projector, until the van finally ends up outside the local police station, as per James's intention. As a pair of gendarmes escort Derange away, promising his next encounter with James will be their last, IQ is thrilled to be reunited with James and Tracy. James says IQ now has proof that the barrier beam projected works as intended, and Tracy asks if he'll return to his research now. But IQ retorts that he's not even thinking about that, having taken James's advice and dedicated himself to studying 'the beauties of Paris'. James and Tracy laugh as IQ leers at a random attractive female passer-by who's foregrounded in the final frame.

Review: A solid, enjoyable outing, with a strong dose of initial intrigue when IQ goes missing - although, ultimately, really less of a mystery as the title suggests, and more of an extended road trip with action interludes. While it's not entirely clear this story justifies the extended 12-page length in the way that, for example, Labyrinth definitively does, it's nonetheless great to see James throwing everything into saving his best buddy, and the pagination does allow for some worthwhile extended action sequences. These include the bike chase that culminates in Skullcap's second crash-landing with farm animals - the first of which must have happened in a similar location, after James's first hovercraft trip to France in The Eiffel Missile - indeed, it almost feels like a tribute. To say it's so central to the story, the barrier beam technology isn't hugely well-defined, and one wonders if there are any limitations to its power and, not for the first time in the series, whether it's entirely appropriate for someone IQ's age to be harnessing it. But the final chase sequence which sees Derange bounced towards the police station is amusing enough, and more generally it's always enjoyable to see James facing off with Derange and Skullcap, who are on their usual good form here.

Highs: While she's obviously still second-fiddle to James, it's good to see Tracy getting some time in the spotlight; she's present more or less throughout this adventure, and even gets to take the driving seat on the motorbike towards the end, in a super-rare role reversal. (Although, tellingly, James still gets to fire the gun.) Milbanks also makes a welcome appearance, a rarity in the Corrierino run.

Lows: Like a number of strips in the series, this one perhaps makes a little more than we'd prefer of the rather fantastical technology IQ dabbles in. Also, as observed in the synopsis, the final frame is a little rum by modern standards - but then again, what isn't when we look back at the nineties and beyond?

Lines to Remember: James, as Skullcap lunges at him and grabs him by the legs: 'I know you're happy to see me... but I already told you, I don't like clingy people!'

Gadgets & Gizmos: The coveted barrier beam technology which is central to this story can create impenetrable force-fields around objects or places. IQ has built a projector which can create such fields, although it seems other established scientists are working in the field also. Like any BFF worth his salt, meanwhile, James has his watch tuned to IQ's, and is able to pick up pulse signals from it to lead him to his location.

SCUM on the Surface: While nobody says the name of the organisation, uniformed SCUM guards are visible outside the research facility in Paris.

Loco Parenthesis: As soon as Milbanks hears from James, he doesn't bother to check in with the missing-for-days IQ himself, rather leaving his daughter to speed around Paris in his pursuit on the back of her sometime suitor's motorbike. Not that he knows that what she's doing, in fairness, but his supreme lack of reservations is concerning.

Notes: Unusually, James is the cover star on this issue of Corrierino, pictured on the motorbike he rides in the strip itself (albeit without Tracy).

All text content © James Bond Jr Online 2009. If you would like to use any of the text from this site please ask permission first. This is an unofficial fan website and is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the owners, creators or distributors of James Bond Jr.