Wednesday, July 30, 2014
"From Russia with Love": The Comic Strip
It would be heresy (and not even true) to say that the comic strip version of From Russia with Love is better than Fleming's novel, but it does fix the problems I had with the first half of the book. Scenes of the Soviets planning Bond's fall are intercut with scenes of Bond in London that Fleming alludes to in the novel, but never shows. The strip also shows Kerim's initial meeting with Tatiana as it happens in relation to other events instead of Bond's only hearing about it later. This all front loads the story with more action than the novel has and works really well.
In fact, the whole adaptation is one of the best in the comic strip series so far. My only nitpicks are a couple of character designs: Red Grant looks old and out of shape and Kerim Bey distractingly resembles Clark Gable. Oh yeah, and Kronsteen is accidentally referred to as Klonsteen a couple of times. But if any of Fleming's novels could use a faster paced, slimmed down adaptation, it's From Russia with Love. The strip focuses the right amount of attention on the good parts while breezing through the dull ones.
There's of course not nearly as much tension in Bond's being stabbed with a poison shoe-knife at the end, because newspaper readers only had to wait until the next day for the resolution instead of the whole year that book readers endured. That can't be helped though and Bond's falling unconscious after being stabbed is a perfectly good if not unusual cliffhanger for that day's strip.