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James Bond Jr Online


Marvel Comics (UK) #10
by Dan Abnett

Featuring: James, Tracy, Coach Mitchell, Baron von Skarin.

Synopsis: James and Tracy are in rural France for the third day of a European school rally driving competition. The car James is driving is dubbed the Warfield Special, and he's leading the race, naturally - with Tracy as his navigator, alerting him to forthcoming hairpin bends, forks in the road, etc. The car comes to a staging post, where Coach Mitchell tells James he's eight seconds ahead of the field. However, he reminds James of their chief opponents, the team from Yuritania - Princess Petra, a mean driver, and her navigator brother Prince Peter. Their car is faster, Mitchell, explains, so they could yet take the lead over the Warfielders. James waves at the Yuritanians from a distance, trying to be friendly; but the sibling pair are unimpressed, and Prince Peter declares to his sister Petra that they will 'soon wipe that cocky grin from their faces'. However, at this moment, Baron von Skarin appears with a gun, and informs the Yuritanians he's kidnapping them! He forces them into the car and takes the wheel, telling the siblings that their country will pay handsomely for their return. Von Skarin says he is now going to drive the prince and princess away from the competition zone, before calling the Yuritanian authorities with his demands. However, a member of the Yuritanian support team sees what's happening and raises the alarm, leading James to recognise the driver as Baron von Skarin. James and Tracy pursue in the Warfield Special, as the siblings realise the Warfield team are trying to rescue them. Von Skarin says they don't have a hope. In the other car, Tracy tells James that they don't have a hope of matching Von Skarin's speed, so instead she suggests cutting through the woods and across the river to get ahead of him. Tracy only mentions that there's no bridge over the river as the car flies across it! Meanwhile, von Skarin believes he's lost the Warfielders - but he's horrified to turn a bend and see the Warfield Special ahead of him, lying in wait. The police arrive too, and take von Skarin away. The race teams both realise they can't win the rally now, but the Yuritanians express their deep gratitude to James and Tracy for saving them.

Review: A run-of-the-mill story rounding off the mini-series sees Baron von Skaron bothering the royalty of yet another presumed European micronation (see also Live and Let's Dance), and it's a little troubling how easy he finds it to kidnap them single-handedly - as members of the Yuritanian royal family, don't they have bodyguards, and why were they so compliant in the car, given he could hardly drive and hold a gun on them at the same time? Wouldn't it have made more sense to force one of them to drive at gunpoint, particularly given they are noted rally drivers? These are but nitpicks, though; and in the story's favour are some sound messages about sportsmanship, and a rare focus on Tracy (see 'Highs' below).

Highs: Tracy's enhanced role in this story is definitely a highlight; it's rare she's involved in the action throughout in any story, but here she also proves herself competent and quick-thinking as a navigator, and is ultimately the person responsible for getting ahead of von Skarin in the race and foiling his plan.

The five-page format doesn't lend itself especially well to a race scenario, as the number of twists, turns and action-packed events that can be included are necessarily limited by the format. Indeed, there is only one of note here, which is the river leap.

Gadgets & Gizmos:
Unusually, none - like IQ, they are glaring in their absence. Unless you count the rally cars, although there's nothing established as particularly unusual about them.

SCUM on the Surface: The organisation is not mentioned.

Blunders & Bloopers: As is periodically the case in tie-in material, Tracy's surname is misspelled as 'Millbanks', with a double 'L'.

Notes: This is the second instalment to use a car-racing scenario as a backdrop following the TV episode A Race Against Disaster, which was also set in France.

This is only one of two known stories in the comics, and in the franchise more generally, that doesn't feature IQ, the other being another mini-strip, Dressed to Kill.

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