Thursday, August 07, 2014

"For Your Eyes Only": The Comic Strip



Like the other short story adaptations, the "For Your Eyes Only" strip leaves very little out. But what it does trim down actually improves the story.

When I wrote about Fleming's version, I pointed out that Bond seems a little nervous about pronouncing a death sentence on someone. That's usually M's job, but M is too close to the case, so Bond helpfully and compassionately takes that responsibility from his boss. That's very explicit in the short story, but in the comic strip, the conversation is abridged so that Bond isn't quite so on the hook. He endorses the mission, but he's not forced to make the call about whether the mission will even exist.



That takes out my favorite moment in Fleming's version, but it also allows a different reading of the entire story; a reading that fixes my least favorite part of Fleming's version. Since this is just another mission for Bond (albeit one with a personal angle for M), it offers some insight on Bond's attitude about assassination assignments. We'll talk more about this when we get to Fleming's "The Living Daylights," a story all about Bond's attitude towards assassination, but there are several moments in the "For Your Eyes Only" strip that reveal Bond's distaste for these kinds of jobs.



In Fleming's version of "For Your Eyes Only," Bond keeps telling Judy Havelock that assassination is "man's work" and it kills me that she accepts that by the end. But I let my distaste for Fleming's gender politics take over my reading and the comic strip version allows a different take. Bond expresses himself in a sexist way, but what lies beneath that is that he's protecting Judy from an action that he himself finds repellant. It's his job to sometimes assassinate people in cold blood, but he's growing less and less tolerant of that part of his duties. Again, we'll see this very clearly in "The Living Daylights."

So when Judy breaks down at the end of "For Your Eyes Only," she's not admitting that Bond was right about her being fragile because she's a woman. She's simply admitting that he was right about how horrible murder is. I'm curious to reread the end of Fleming's version and see if that reading makes sense there, but I suspect that it does. I'm betting that it's just buried more deeply, so I'm grateful to the strip for uncovering it.



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