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Review: James Bond Casino Royale Graphic Novel

Having laid into the new Bond GN "Reflections of Death" a few days ago I thought I'd take another look at Casino Royale, the first of two faithful adaptations of Fleming from Dynamite.

How faithful? Well, at lot of the text is direct from Fleming, albeit necessarily abridged by writer Van Jensen. And beyond that the story is very faithful to the book. The flavour is all there too: the detailed explanations of chemin de fer, the long pursuit by SMERSH as Bond and Vesper travel the coast of France. Nothing is missed or rushed. One innovation by Van Jensen is the 'Bond Vision' - a set of captions that aim to show what it happening in Bond's mind and how he see's the world. This is really very well done and hits classic beats like Bond's little traps for anyone searching his room.

The art is very compelling (especially the excellent cover by Fay Dalton, who also illustrates the Folio Society Bond books); the only slight issue I had was that Bond seems to change his 'look' quite often. That might be a stylistic choice but I think perhaps it's more an issue of not having a consistent model from life. I loved seeing Bond's scar and I've now rather adjusted my mental image of where it is on his cheek to match Dennis Calero's choice.

To my mind this works because it IS Bond. Fleming's Bond, captured in panels. That's not to say that Bond can't be done for a modern audience - Warren Ellis did it excellently - but the problem with the modern comics is that they've been making Bond a "comicbook character" to the point he feels far more like Grayson or Nick Fury or even Black Widow than he does James Bond, whether from the Books or the Movies. And when the character has been so well defined by his creator there's just no excuse for it.

The book is a very solid hardcover too, and nice to own. Recommended.

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