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James Bond Jr Online


Marvel Comics (UK) #4
by Dan Abnett

Featuring: James, IQ, Tracy, Gordo, Dr No.

Synopsis: James, IQ, Tracy and Gordo are in Wyoming, western USA, for a cowboy-style riding holiday in the desert organised by Gordo's dad, Felix Leiter. They are camping near the Devils Tower national monument, a dramatic, steep-sided rock formation which James has wanted to see for real ever since his uncle lent him a copy of the science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. At this moment, however, life imitates art, as what appears to be an enormous flying saucer appears in the sky above them. James leads the charge on horseback towards the saucer's location, saying they can't miss out on the chance of contact with aliens. As they get closer, the horses react badly to the bright lights from the saucer, so the gang decide to go on foot. IQ mentions that there have been lots of UFO reports in the area recently, a matter of concern to local residents. At this point, Tracy, IQ and Gordo are horrified to witness a brilliant beam of light blast down from the saucer, apparently beaming James inside! The gang assume he's been abducted by aliens; however, in the craft, he's confronted by the real culprit, Doctor No. The craft, he explains, is a 'cleverly disguised dirigible', and his plan is to pose as a member of a highly advanced race of extraterrestrials and dupe world governments into giving away their technological secrets in exchange for supposed alien ones. However, at this point, a radio communication comes in from 'the Traceoids of Gordicon 007', who tell Dr No that they will 'not allow this trickery to fool the world... desist now or face the direst consequences!' Dr No thinks these are real aliens who've seen through his ruse, and attempts to make a getaway in his craft - but as James escapes, the craft smashes into Devils Tower, exploding spectacularly. James doubts they've seen the last of Dr No, and asks where the alien message came from. IQ explains that the gang realised it was all a fake when they heard the sound of propellers from the ship, and used the natural echo effect of the valley to their advantage by yelling alien threats at the ship. The gang rides back to camp for dinner, James wistful at the revelation that there were no real aliens after all.

Review: This is a visually impressive and atmospheric entry into the comic series, with a great Wild West backdrop and some fun references to the aliens of Hollywood, including the aforementioned Close Encounters and others (Tracy tells James, on becoming too curious about the supposed spacecraft, to 'forget E.T.' and 'remember Alien' instead). Doctor No's plan is dispensed with fairly swiftly by our heroes - a constraint, like all outings in this mini-run, of the pagination - but there's nonetheless space for some strong characterisation here of James and his friends (see 'Highs' in particular), and a real sense of rapport that's sometimes lacking in the weaker of the TV episodes.

Highs: While it differs entirely from James's sceptical attitude to supposed flying saucers in other alien-themed instalments (see 'Notes'), it's actually refreshing to see James express a degree of belief in aliens here, or at least a willingness to entertain the possibility. Evidently his childhood memories of the film his uncle loaned him left a strong impression; it's an effective characterising touch, and the kind the wider franchise was really crying out for as regards its all-too-worldly-wise lead.

While James's naivete is endearing, Dr No's is less easy to swallow - having presided over his own alien hoax, it's a bit of a stretch that he then suddenly believes, on the scantest of evidence, that real aliens are calling out his deception.

Gadgets & Gizmos:
None for James this time, but Dr No's dirigible makes for a convincing-looking flying saucer, which deploys a combination of bright lamps, a net and pulley to simulate the 'beaming aboard' of abductees.

SCUM on the Surface: The organisation isn't mentioned, aside from in the story's title.

Notes: This marks the third occasion on which the franchise has played the alien hoax card, following the TV episodes A Derange Mind and Invaders from SCUM - and naturally, each occasion plays out as if it's the first.

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