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James Bond Jr Online


Marvel Comics (UK) #2
by Dan Abnett

Featuring: James, IQ, Tracy, Gordo, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, the Chameleon.

Synopsis: Warfield Academy is playing host to a visit from a government minister, who is welcomed by Mr Milbanks. The minister in question is from so-called Department Omega, whose main function is to perform inspections of institutions like Warfield. Milbanks explains to the minister that IQ, Gordo, Tracy and James will show him around the premises and give him VIP treatment. The students show the minister the gymnasium, the library, and the labs, which IQ explains contain 'quad alogarythmic mainframes'. The computers are used for academic work but also handle the academy's administrative duties. Seemingly very interested, the minister asks what the output potential is of one of the computers. IQ says you could run all the world's stock exchanges through it. As he surveys the room, the minister keeps clicking a button on his watch; and after he leaves, IQ notices that the computer has registered a sudden drain in its data banks. The computer houses all school records, including confidential secrets of the students and their families. The information would be valuable to SCUM, and the gang conclude a data-theft gadget has been deployed. James realises he recognised the minister from somewhere, and IQ agrees - so they give chase, just as the minister is saying goodbye to Milbanks in the car park. James asks the minister if he knew Miles Fortesque, who he claims is a friend of his uncle's and works at Department Omega. The minister claims he does, but then James reveals it was a test - there is no such person at the department. The 'minister' reveals his true colours, changing his face to reveal he is in fact the Chameleon. As he's driven away by his accomplice, James explains to a baffled Milbanks that the data the Chameleon has stolen could put hundreds of government agents, diplomats and ambassadors at risk. James, IQ, Gordo and Tracy speed off after the crooks in James's car. Just as the villains are escaping Warfield grounds, James launches some kind of missile from the front of his car into theirs, sending it crashing into a tree. During the crash, the Chameleon's watch, which he used to steal the data from the computer, is broken, rendering the data on it irretrievable.

Review: Perhaps of all the mini-stories, this is the one that's most deserving of extension into a full-length plot for a 22-minute TV outing. The Chameleon disguising himself as a government minister seems like one of the most obvious ways of effectively utilising the character, but the problem here is that it's all resolved far too easily because of the length limitations. Far better, surely, to have him return to Whitehall and Westminster, and wreak havoc in the corridors of power. Still, this is an effective instalment, with echoes of Hostile Takeover and the longer comic story, Friends Like These, in terms of its unusual and effective choice to set the action on the homefront and have SCUM actually infiltrate Warfield.

Highs: As one of the rarer and more entertaining villain concepts from the franchise, it's great to see the Chameleon getting a reprise in the comic stories.

Lows: There's no firm resolution here, besides establishing the failure of the villain's plan, as we don't see whether or not he's carted off to jail. But presumably the fact he's surrounded by James and his friends is going to make it difficult for him to escape - and indeed, the Chameleon is possibly unique in the series in that he gets captured at the end of all his TV episodes, whereas most lead villains escape the scene.

Gadgets & Gizmos: None of IQ's are showcased explicitly, although he has evidently equipped James's car with some kind of rocket launcher. The Chameleon steals the show gadget-wise with his data-theft watch gadget, although as James points out in the closing frames, IQ's own watch gizmos that he makes for James are more robust.

SCUM on the Surface: James declares to Milbanks that the Chameleon is 'a SCUM agent', although this is less nuanced than the position established in the TV episodes. In The Chameleon, the crook says he plans to sell a stolen military protoype to SCUM, apparently suggesting he's not an integral part of the organisation - a detail  which, despite the Chameleon being seen working with Dr Derange in Red Star One in the interim, is made more explicit in The Art of Evil, where his aim is to convince Scumlord he should be made a full-fledged member. We're left to assume this aim fails along with his art thefts, but perhaps this situation has since changed.

Blunders & Bloopers: 'alogarythmic' isn't a word, and seems to be a combination of 'algorithmic', 'logarithmic' and 'rhythmic'. But it sounds very high-tech, so we'll let it slide.

Notes: Department Omega is not and has never been a real UK government department, which tend to be given names (marginally) more descriptive of the work they actually do.

Coach Mitchell makes a brief appearance in this strip, but doesn't speak.

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