Site hosted by Build your free website today!

James Bond Jr Online


Corriere dei Piccoli / Corrierino 1993 #40
('Un Problema Ecologico')
by Federica Montanari

Featuring: James, IQ, Tracy, Dr Derange, Skullcap

Synopsis: James, IQ and Tracy are attending a concert of singer Sheena, whose lyrics are focused on ecology and saving the planet. However, someone has their crosshairs on the singer; Skullcap has appeared in the audience, and prepares to make an assassination attempt. He fires, and narrowly misses, destroying one of the speakers behind Sheena. Recognising Skullcap, James dashes through the crowd and kicks the gun out of his hand. Skullcap escapes the scene, and James, IQ and Tracy go to talk to Sheena in her dressing room. Sheena's bodyguard isn't keen on letting them in, but when Sheena hears James's name, she tells her guard to let them in as she knows him 'indirectly'.

IQ is starstruck in Sheena's presence, despite James's reminder that IQ usually thinks celebrity enthusiasm is childish. James asks Sheena if she knows why Skullcap tried to shoot her. She says she does, and that it's not the first time. We learn she is performing a series of concerts to raise public awareness of the ecological problems afflicting the Amazon rainforest, having become aware herself of the issue of deforestation when she was touring there. But in one particular area, the vegetation was disappearing at a much faster rate, so she went to have a look. The area was fenced off, but she did see a 'guy who spoke French' and a 'man with a metal skull', who noticed her and shot at her, so she ran away.

Deciding the presence of Dr Derange and Skullcap in the rainforest doesn't bode well, James proposes a trip to the Amazon. The gang and Sheena soon arrive via Sheena's private plane, and James asks Sheena why she says she knew him indirectly. She explains that when she overheard Derange and Skullcap talking, Derange said he hoped James wouldn't get in the way of their plans. The gang trek into the jungle led by a local guide, João, who leaves them on a riverbank while he goes to look for a ford to cross a stream. However, he's kidnapped by Skullcap. When
João doesn't return, the gang start looking for him, but to no avail.

Happily, IQ has brought along a geocomputer linked to satellites, which helps them find their route in
João's absence; and he's also brought some waterproof superglue, which comes in handy when they need to sail down the river, enabling him to repair some broken canoes the gang finds - although IQ briefly becomes stuck to one of the canoes, so effective is his formula. As the two canoes approach a huge waterfall, IQ and Tracy get safely to shore - but before James and Sheena can join them, a seaplane appears, piloted by Skullcap, and begins firing at them from above. They keep their heads down, but have come too close to the waterfall. Luckily, a fortuitous rope is extending over the falls, and James and Sheena leap to safety as the canoe crashes over the abyss.

The rope, it turns out, was placed there by a local tribe Tracy and IQ have stumbled across, whose members include
their guide João's brother. Speaking Portuguese, the brother explains that João is a prisoner of 'the French professor'. Tracy is surprised when James understands what he's saying; James reveals he speaks Portuguese 'modestly', explaining that his mother is a linguist. Shortly after, the gang, now joined by some of the tribesmen, arrive at Dr Derange's base of operations, where trees are being felled in their thousands.  Inside the facility, Derange berates Skullcap for letting Bond get as far as he has, and explains that he has developed a sophisticated system capable of extracting a very powerful fuel from trees. It will mean the end of the world's forests, but will make him very rich.

However, James has overheard this, and rushes in with Tracy and the tribesmen, telling Derange that the trees will stay where they are. Skullcap attempts to charge at James with a headbutt, but James ducks and Skullcap flies over him and his head crashes into a wall, knocking him out. James asks IQ if he has any of his superglue left, and he does; so James sets about applying it to Derange's fuel extraction machine. It clogs it up completely, rendering it useless. While Derange despairs over his wasted efforts,
João is freed from captivity. But IQ is unhappy; in order to avoid Mr Milbanks finding out that they've been absent from Warfield, he's not going to be able to tell everybody back home that he's met Sheena. Everyone laughs.

Review: Another strong outing for Corrierino, which combines a South American rainforest setting not seen since the TV episode Barbella's Big Attraction with a worthy environmental theme, also explored to an extent in that episode - via Trevor's abortive efforts to lobby the Brazilian government. But it's far more of a central focus here, as Dr Derange gets in on the deforestation action, an industry in which he seems very much at home. The Sheena concert provides a great in-road to the action; Skullcap can be rather menacing as a villain when the writers put their minds to it, and this is one of those occasions, opening with his brazen assassination attempt on the singer in the middle of a live gig. He starts as he means to go on, providing unusually competent crookedness as the gang trek through the jungle by kidnapping their guide, then almost succeeding in sending James and Sheena over a waterfall. In comparison, Derange himself comes across as fairly impotent when he finally rears his head in the final pages, although it's nearly always good to see him and his defeats always satisfying. There's also time for a little characterisation of IQ, who seems to be afflicted with one of his very occasional crushes.

Highs: We love Sheena - a celebrity very much unafraid of getting her hands dirty. On the other hand...

... Sheena has a private plane. Talk about a carbon footprint.

Lines to Remember:
We're just recording the snippets of of Sheena's song lyrics for posterity here. Translated from the Italian, they are as follows...

Sheena: 'Once there was a forest ... endless trees before us ...
What used to be mud is now a motorway ...
Every falling tree makes a noise, but no one hears it ...'

Gadgets & Gizmos:
IQ seems to have created an early precursor to Google Maps; his geocomputer is connected to a satellite that detects an area's geographical characteristics and returns them to the terminal, indicating the best route to take. He's also brought along a pot of waterproof superglue in case he needs to repair any broken canoes - which he does - and it later comes in handy in disabling Dr Derange's own gizmo of the day, a machine that extracts a powerful fuel from timber.

SCUM on the Surface:
The organisation isn't mentioned.

O Mother, Where Art Thou:
Gobsmackingly, given the absolute dearth of references to his parents in the TV episodes or any of the other comics we're aware of, James actually mentions his mother in this story. When Tracy remarks that she didn't know he spoke Portuguese, James reveals by way of explanation that his mother is a linguist. This is a detail that was originally conceived as part of the show's premise; in the early stages of development, James's parents were to have an ongoing role, having been kidnapped by SCUM and providing an ongoing motivation for his efforts against them. It was evidently later decided that no reference whatsoever would be made to his parents, only his uncle - but this gem seems to have slipped through the net.

Blunders & Bloopers:
IQ says he designed his geocomputer for James' Aston Martin. But James doesn't have an Aston Martin; he only borrowed it from 007 in The Beginning (and managed to write it off). His red sports car, a gift from his uncle in the same episode, is a non-specific make.

To the English reader it isn't necessarily very apparent, but when
João's brother speaks in Portuguese, this is presented as actual Portuguese in his speech bubble; and James then translates for the Italian audience.

During their altercation on the last page, James dodges Skullcap as he lunges at him, declaring, 'Sorry, but you're not my type!' We would have thought this would've gone without saying.

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.