The following year came For Special Services where Bond and Felix Leiter’s daughter Cedar investigate millionaire Markus Bismaquer who is suspected of reviving SPECTRE. During their investigation, Bond beds Bismaquer’s mono-mammaried wife Nena. The new SPECTRE is planning to take control of NORAD and America’s military satellite network. But the plan goes awry when the bisexual Bismaquer fancies Bond. Nena kills Bismaquer. She then reveals that, as Blofeld’s illegitimate daughter, she is the mastermind behind the operation, before falling into the grip of her own pet pythons. Leiter then turns up to rescue his daughter and deliver the coup de grâce. Bond and Cedar then head off on what Bond is determined will be a purely platonic vacation. Gardner already had Bond cut back to a low-tar brand of his Morland Specials. Now he switches to cigarettes from H. Simmons of Burlington Arcade.
Then came Icebreaker (1983)where Bond teams up with agents from the CIA, KGB and Israel’s Mossad to take out Count Konrad von Glöda who, as head of the National Socialist Action Army, fancies himself as the new Adolf Hitler. Everyone double-crosses everyone else on the way to the NSAA’s supply base in the Arctic circle.
SPECTRE reappears in Role of Honour (1984). Having received an inheritance from his Uncle Bruce, Bond quits the service and joins a plot to free the world of nuclear weapons. However, SPECTRE’s plan is really to destabilize the world so that their criminal organization can take advantage of the ensuing chaos. Bond stops them, but the new head of SPECTRE Tamil Rahani, though injured, escapes.
In Nobody Lives Forever (1986), the dying Tamil Rahani puts a price of ten million Swiss francs on Bond’s head. To lure him to Key West, where Rahani plans to have Bond guillotined, Bond’s housekeeper May and Moneypenny are kidnapped. Bond rescues them and rigs the bedhead that has to be raised so that the ailing Rahani can see the guillotining. Instead of Bond, the duplicitous bodyguard of Bond’s new love, the Principessa Sukie Tempesta, gets the chop. Bond and Sukie then stay on Key West for “remedial treatment”.
Five years before the beginning of the main story of No Deals, Mr Bond (1987), 007 helped extract a team of agents from East Germany after their cover was blown. Their mission had been to turn five enemy agents and get them to defect. Two of them have now been found murdered and mutilated. Bond has to track down the other three. The first is now called Heather Dare. Bond foils an attempt on her life. Together they fly to Eire to find another agent, Emile Nikolas alias Ebbie Heritage. They are captured by the operation’s principal target Colonel Maxim Smolin of the GRU – the Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye or Soviet military intelligence – who is also holding Heritage. However, Smolin says that he was turned by Heather and is working for M now. The KGB is after him and is killing the agents. Along with the fifth agent in Hong Kong, they are all captured by General Konstantin Nikolaevich Chernov, head of what used to be SMERSH. Bond turns the tables by capturing Chernov, while he executes Heather Dare as a double agent.
In Scorpius (1988), Bond is pitted against arms dealer Vladimir Scorpius who is masquerading as Father Valentine, head of the Society of Meek Ones. Using hypnotic powers and hallucinogenic drugs, he plans to get cult members to kill prominent politicians and bring the stock market crashing down. During the action, Bond marries IRS investigator Harriett Horner, albeit under the aegis of Father Valentine. She, of course, dies soon after while fleeing Scorpius’s island headquarters which is in the middle of a swamp in South Carolina. Though the authorities are about to swoop, Bond returns to the island to kill Scorpius in a similar fashion.
The Brotherhood for Anarchy and Secret Terrorism (BAST) aimed to disrupt a joint US-UK-Soviet naval exercise – itself a cover for a covet summit – in Win, Lose or Die (1989). Bond is reassigned to the Navy, where several attempts are made on his life. The BAST leader Bassam Baradj succeeds in capturing the summit leaders and demands $600 billion for their safe return. However, their governments refuse to pay up. It transpires that Baradj is con artist Robert Besavitsky, who has set up the fake terrorist organization to make money. He is killed by Bond’s latest girlfriend Beatrice Maria da Ricci, a British agent who had earlier faked her own death to aid Bond’s investigation.
Gardner followed that with a novelization of the movie Licence to Kill (1989). However, in Brokenclaw (1990), Bond expresses his frustration at his lack of action since returning from the Navy after Win, Lose or Die. He goes on vacation to British Columbia, where he comes across Lee Fu-Chu, a half-Blackfoot, half-Chinese known as “Brokenclaw” because of his deformed hand. Bond is ordered to San Francisco where he and CIA agent Chi-Chi Sue go undercover and discover that Brokenclaw is behind a plot to steal the latest submarine deployment system for the Chinese while simultaneously hacking into the Stock Exchange computers. Bond and Chi-Chi catch up with Brokenclaw on an Indian reservation and are tortured in an initiation ceremony. In a duel with bows and arrows, Bond shoots Brokenclaw through the neck.
An elderly man kidnapped in New Jersey is The Man from Barbarossa 1991), a terrorist organization called the Scales of Justice claims. If he is not put on trial for his part in the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar in the Ukraine in 1941, they are going to assassinate high-level Soviet officials. In fact, the Scales of Justice has been set up by hardline Soviet General Yevgeny Yusovich to disrupt the Soviet Union after the perestroika thaw. The plan also involves nuking the US-led forces about to invade Iraq. Bond to the rescue. Averting nuclear catastrophe, he is awarded the Order of Lenin on behalf of President Gorbachev.
Gorbachev had fallen from power and Germany had been reunified by the time Death Is Forever (1992) came out. Accompanied by CIA agent Elizabeth Zara “Easy” St John, Bond is sent to find out why members of a network of former British agents in East Germany are being bumped off. The man responsible is former East German spymaster Wolfgang Weisen. It is part of a plot to blow up the Channel Tunnel while the inaugural train carrying political dignitaries is going through. With the help of a crack team of French soldiers, Bond electrocutes Weisen and saves the day.
Four seemingly random assassinations are linked to the death of Laura March, an MI5 agent, in Switzerland in Never Send Flowers (1993). A mysterious hybrid rose is sent to each funeral. Bond and Swiss agent Fredericka “Flicka” von Grüsse – soon to be his lover – investigate. They discover that Laura had just broken off her engagement to former actor David Dragonpol, who is now a recluse living in a German schloss with his sister Maeve, creator of the rose. Dragonpol, it transpires, is a psychopathic killer who is planning to assassinate Princess Diana and the two princes when they visit EuroDisney. Lying in wait, Bond kills Dragonpol, while Flicka takes care of Maeve.
Bond must be getting old. In the next book SeaFire (1994), he is still with Flicka. He has been promoted head of the double-O section and is no longer answerable directly to M, who is ill, but to a watch committee called MicroGlobe One. Bond is on the trail of Sir Maxwell Tarn, an émigré millionaire with interests in publishing and shipping who thinks he’s the new Hitler – a familiar formula for a Bond villain. During his pursuit around the world, Bond realizes that Tarn is always one jump ahead of him and exposes a junior minister who has been betraying him. Working with Felix Leiter, Bond discovers that Tarn plans to make his debut on the global stage by blowing up an oil tanker, then releasing marine organisms he has developed to clear up the slick. Bond thwarts him, but not before Felix and Flicka have been tortured. During the action, Bond proposes to Flicka, but nothing comes of it.
Gardner’s next book is a novelization of GoldenEye (1995).
At the beginning of COLD (1996) – called Cold Fall in the US – the action has jumped back four years. Bond is assigned to investigate an air crash involving his old lover Principessa Sukie Tempesta. But she warns Bond against COLD – Children of the Last Days – before her remains are found in a burnt-out car. In Italy, the Tempesta brothers, themselves linked to the Calvinistic COLD and wanted by the FBI, try to persuade Bond that Sukie has been killed by retired US General Brutus Clay, who runs his own militia. Clay kidnaps M. While rescuing him, Bond shoots down Clay’s helicopter. But as COLD’s aim is to take over America, M decides that they pose no threat to the UK and takes Bond off the case.
The action flashes forward four years. Immediately after the end of SeaFire, the ailing Flicka – referred to in this book as Freddie – is taken to the Secret Service clinic in Surrey, where she dies. The FBI wants Bond back on the Tempestas’ case. He rejoins Beatrice da Ricci from Win, Lose or Die and they infiltrate the Tempestas’ lakeside villa. COLD is preparing a major briefing when Sukie – who is not dead – arrives. She and her giant henchman Kauffberger capture Bond and Beatrice. She then reveals that she downed the airliner because an opponent of COLD was on board. Sukie then marries Clay, who is not dead either. But on their wedding night, he kills Sukie and, as Italian Marines storm the villa, takes Bond and Beatrice hostage. Beatrice then shoots him in the arms, he falls in the lake and drowns. To cap it all M – who had recovered from his illness in Seafire – decides to retire in favour of a woman, bringing the novels into line with the film series and the novelization of GoldenEye Gardner had already written.
After writing fourteen Bond books, Gardner gave up and the mantle was handed to the American Raymond Benson, author of The James Bond Bedside Companion (1988). Ignoring much of the development of the character under Gardner, Benson began his reign in 1997 with “Blast from the Past”, a short story for Playboy magazine. It follows on from You Only Live Twice, though many years have passed. Kissy Suzuki has died of ovarian cancer and Bond receives a message purporting to come from their son, James, who is in New York. But by the time Bond arrives, James is dead, poisoned. Finding a key to a safe-deposit box, Bond and MI6 agent Cheryl Haven go to the bank where James worked. When the maintenance man tries the key, a bomb goes off, killing him. Bond spots a bag lady outside the bank who had been outside his son’s apartment earlier. He chases her into a warehouse, while Cheryl goes for help. Knocked out, Bond finds he is the prisoner of the imperishable Irma Bunt. She tries to force-feed him fugu, the poison she had used to kill his son. But Cheryl arrives and Bond shoots Bunt, killing her – for good this time?
Although Benson abandons Ann Reilly – Q’ute – and puts Q Department back in the hands of Major Boothroyd, he retains a female M with her new office in the MI6 building beside the Thames at Vauxhall. He also gives namechecks to Fredericka von Grüsse from Never Send Flowers and SeaFire, Harriet Horner from Scorpius and Easy St John from Death Is Forever. Bond continues to smoke cigarettes from H. Simmons of Burlington Arcade, but he drops the ASP 9mm in favour of his old PPK.
The action in Zero Minus Ten (1997) begins ten days before the British hand Hong Kong back to the Chinese. Bond is sent to investigate a series of murders that could disrupt the smooth handover. At the same time, there is an unexplained nuclear test in the Australian outback. In a casino in Macao, Bond spots shipping magnate Guy Thackeray, head of EurAsia Enterprises, cheating at mah-jong. As ever, Bond cheats the cheater and wins a large sum of money. But further investigation is stymied when Thackeray’s car blows up, apparently killing him.
Bond’s attentions turn to the Dragon Wing Tong. Its head, Li Xu Nan, gets Bond to go to China to recover an agreement signed by Thackeray and Li’s grandfathers, returning the company to the Li family if the British ever left Hong Kong – otherwise, Bond and the hostess that helped him, Sunni Pei will die. After Bond recovers the document he goes to Australia, where he finds another nuclear bomb and Thackeray, who is very much alive. He is planning to blow up Hong Kong and heads back there with Sunni and the bomb, leaving Bond to die. Bond escapes and heads back to Hong Kong. After a chase around Hong Kong harbour before the handover ceremony, Bond locates and disarms the bomb, kills Thackeray and rescues Sunni.
Benson then novelized Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) where, as in the movie, he exchanges his Walther PPK for an updated P99. The following year he wrote The Facts of Death (1998), which begins with a number of deaths from a mysterious syndrome known as Williams’ Disease. Bond is in Cyprus investigating the murder of British troops and has to be rescued by Greek agent Niki Mirakos. M’s fiancé and his son are also murdered. Suspecting a mathematical cult named Decada, Bond plays its head Konstantine Romanos at baccarat. At the casino, Bond is picked up by the voluptuous Hera Volopolous, who turns out to be number two in Decada. While Romanos aims to start a war between Greece and Turkey, Hera plans to make a fortune out of the vaccine for Williams’ Disease she possesses. Bond puts paid to both plans. Sir Miles Messervy, the new M, Bill Tanner, Miss Moneypenny, May and Felix Leiter, now confined to a wheelchair, all make an appearance. The book was originally called The World Is Not Enough, but neither Glidrose nor the publishers liked the title, saying it was not sufficiently “Bondian”.
To celebrate the magazine’s forty-fifth anniversary, Playboy commissioned Benson to write another short story, which was called “Midsummer’s Night Doom” in 1999. The action takes place at a party in the Playboy Mansion where, unbeknownst to Hugh Hefner, secrets from the Ministry of Defence are being passed to the Russian Mafia. Bond investigates and, along the way, has a dalliance with real-life centrefold Lisa Dergan.
Another Bond short story, “Live at Five”, was published in TV Guide the week The World Is Not Enough appeared in the movie theatres across America in 1999. In it, Bond is on his way to a date with Chicago’s Channel 7 news reporter Janet Davis – the second real-life person to become a Bond girl – when he recalls how he once helped a Russian figure-skating champion defect in front of the TV cameras.
The same year those two short stories appeared, Benson also completed the novelization of The World Is Not Enough (1999) and the continuation novel High Time to Kill (1999). The formula for “Skin 17” – a revolutionary coating for aircraft that lets them fly at five times the speed of sound – is stolen by a mysterious crime syndicate known as the Union. Reduced to a microdot, the formula is being transported to China inside the pacemaker in the chest of a retired Chinese agent. The plane transporting him is hijacked and crashes high in the Himalayas. Bond sets out to find it on an expedition led by RAF officer Roland Marquis, Bond’s rival at school who organized the theft in the first place. Also part of the team are two Union killers, Bond’s Gurkha Chandra and the high-altitude doctor Hope Kendal, who is destined to become a Bond girl. Meanwhile separate Russian and Chinese expeditions set out to retrieve the formula. Between then, Bond and Hope dispose of the opposition and return the formula to Britain. Bond then discovers that his personal assistant Helena Marksbury, who first turned up in The Facts of Death and has since become a Bond girl, has been blackmailed by the Union into betraying him. She turns up dead in Brighton. Such is the fate of Bond girls who get too close.
The year 2000 saw Benson’s DoubleShot, the second in his Union Trilogy. After his exertions at high altitude in the Himalayas, Sir James Molony’s assistant Dr Kimberly Feare diagnoses Bond with lesions on the brain that result in hallucinations, blackouts and other symptoms. Unable to return to work, he investigates the death of Helena Marksbury. After a session in bed with Bond, Feare is killed, slit ear to ear – a trademark of the Union, but Bond is suspected. The Marksbury investigation leads Bond to Tangier, where he uncovers a plan to assassinate the prime ministers of Britain and Spain and return Gibraltar to the Spanish. With the help of the Taunt twins, Heidi and Hedy, who are with the CIA, Bond foils the plot and assassinates the assassins.
In Never Dream of Dying (2001), Bond is given two weeks to track down the head of the Union, Le Gérant, before being assigned to the case of Japanese billionaire and suspected terrorist Goro Yoshida. The trail leads him to French film director Leon Essinger. Bond sleeps with his estranged wife, actress and model Tylyn Mignonne. After a chase through a film set, Bond is kidnapped by Draco and the Union Corse. Mathis has disappeared on Corsica. Bond goes after him and is captured by Le Gérant. During his torture, Bond discovers that the Union’s plan, funded by Goro Yoshida, is to bomb the Cannes Film Festival. Draco prevents this. It then turns out that Le Gérant is Draco’s nephew – Bond’s cousin by marriage – and Draco has been part of the Union all along. He wants personal revenge on Bond, holding him responsible for the death of his second wife and child in a raid on the Union some months before. Bond then kills Draco and Le Gérant.
Finally, Benson came up with The Man with the Red Tattoo (2002), where a young woman on a flight from Japan to London dies of a mysterious disease. Bond is sent to Japan to investigate, and here he meets up with Tiger Tanaka, last seen in You Only Live Twice. It transpires that the family of the dead girl own a medical laboratory. Goro Yoshida and the Yakuza are planning to take over the lab so that they can spread a deadly disease. With the help of the dead girl’s sister, Mayumi, Bond foils the Yazuka. Yoshida tries to kill Bond with a samurai sword. Failing, he commits hara-kiri. Benson survives to novelize Die Another Day (2002), but that is the end of his Bond output.
Meanwhile, Bond had been taking a parallel route via strip cartoons. They began in Britain in the Daily Express with the syndicated comic strip of Casino Royale in 1958 and ran until 1983. Forty-five adventures were syndicated in British newspapers and seven published abroad. Initially they were straightforward strip cartoon versions of Ian Fleming’s books. Then stories were extended to novel length and weaker books had their plots invigorated with fresh material.
In 1966, in the comic strip of The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond is recuperating from his brainwashing at the hands of the Soviet Union. M sends another agent, a friend of Bond’s named Philip Margesson who has been crippled by Scaramanga, to the same nursing home to motivate Bond for his next assignment. Bond discovers that the nurse attending Margesson is a Soviet agent.
In the comic strip of Octopussy, the characters of the two Chinese businessmen who handle Major Smythe’s gold are built up and his daughter Trudi is introduced. This is seventeen years before Octopussy reveals that she is Smythe’s daughter in the movie. Mary Goodnight also appears as she had been posted to Jamaica in The Man with the Golden Gun. Bond again poses as Mark Hazard.
The Hildebrand Rarity is given a proper James Bond spy story plot with an extended preface in which Milton Krest steals a top secret remote-controlled submarine code-named Sea Slave on its sea trials. Bond is sent to retrieve it and is invited to join Krest’s specimen-hunting cover trip by a woman named Nyla Larsen.
The comic strip of The Spy Who Loved Me retains the central action of the book in the motel, but gives Bond a different reason for being in Vermont. He is investigating claims by a Canadian test pilot that he is being blackmailed by Horst Uhlmann, a member of SPECTRE, which has been newly reformed under a woman code-named Spectra. But Bond kills Uhlmann and is on his way to Washington, DC, to report to the FBI.
Then in October 1968, Jim Lawrence, who had scripted the previous five strip-cartoon adaptations of Ian Fleming’s stories, wrote The Harpies, an entirely original piece. In it, scientist Dr John Phineus, inventor of the Q-ray, is kidnapped by an all-girl gang called the Harpies before he has handed his invention over to the government. Bond infiltrates Aerotech Security, which belongs to Phineus’s rival Simon Nero, with the help of Nero’s daughter Helen. He rescues Phineus, but Helen is killed – another Bond girl bites the dust. M, Moneypenny and Bill Tanner – who turns out to be a classics scholar – all make an appearance. SPECTRE gets a namecheck and Bond has moved downmarket to Earls Court, where he lives under the name Mark Hazard.
In River of Death, Bond is up against Dr Cat, the chief torturer of the Red Chinese, who is killing Secret Service agents. The plot involves the creation of a pan-American-Indian movement. Bond is helped in his assault on Dr Cat’s Brazilian lair by Native American CIA agent Kitty Redwing. He also reverts to using his old Beretta.
The next strip cartoon in the Express’s series was Kingsley Amis’s Colonel Sun. Then Madam Spectra reappears in The Golden Ghost, where the Golden Ghost – a nuclear-powered airship – is hijacked on its maiden voyage and its A-list inaugural passengers held to ransom. To get them to pay up, Bond is going to be fed to the sharks. But he escapes and kills the SPECTRE operative behind the plot.
SPECTRE is also behind a plot in the next cartoon: to substitute their own surgically altered agent for the US Secretary of Defense and ruin a peace conference in Double Jeopardy. True to his Scottish roots, Bond reveals that his favourite poet is Robert Louis Stevenson. He also reveals a renewed interest in birds – the feathered variety – dormant since Dr No, by posing as Jeremy Bland of the London Ornithological Society.
In Starfire, Bond tracks down rogue SPECTRE member Luke Quantrill who eliminates enemies with balls of fire. Sadly, as Mark Hazard, Bond finds no love interest in the tale. Bond’s search for “the Box” in Trouble Spot takes him to a nudist colony in California. The love interest, Gretta, turns out to be after “the Box” too and dies. “The Box” in question contains the head of a Russian double agent, proving he is dead. The strip was reprinted as The Mystery of Box by Diamond Comics in New Delhi.
A naked girl on horseback and black private detective Crystal Kelly – before the release of the movie Live and Let Die Bond’s first black love interest – lead him to a training school for female spies in Isle of Condor. Then in The League of Vampires, industrialist Xerxes Xerophane aims to nuke his father-in-law and have his wife murdered in the initiation ceremony of a vampire cult in order to inherit.
Bond battles the American Mafia which is trying to get its hands on the sedative Nopane; this has become the latest recreational drug in Die With My Boots On. He gets to play with a wristwatch laser, a zip gun in his shoe and image-intensifying glasses. Bond gets involved in Middle Eastern politics to protect British oil interests with an un-Islamic apparatus that shows videos of women and dispenses drinks in The Girl Machine. Bond gets a lover and helpmate in Beware of Butterflies, where new double-O Suzi Kew helps him quash the Butterfly East European spy network.
SMERSH makes a reappearance in The Nevsky Nude. Bond thwarts Operation Nevsky which involves the kidnapping of Secretary of State for Defence Lord Melrose and SMERSH agent Ludmilla skydiving naked from the plane of renegade aristocrat Sir Ulric Herne which is broadcasting a message purporting to come from King Arthur’s ghost telling Britain to rise up.