Review: Young James Bond: Silverfin – The Graphic Novel
His name is Bond. James Bond – teenage student at Eton School and well on his way to living a life of danger and adventure.
Young Bond: Silverfin – A James Bond Adventure – the Graphic Novel
Based on the novel by Charlie Higson.
Adapted and Illustrated by Kev Walker
Script by Charlie Higson and Kev Walker
Published by Disney – Hyperion Books
ISBN 978-1-4231-3022-2 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4231-3023-9 (paperback)
Ian Fleming’s adventures of the secret agent 007 James Bond has been a staple for years since his first appearance in the novel Casino Royale in 1953 and naturally the feature film adaptations of James Bond’s adventures as well. In 2005, Hyperion Press released the first of five prequel Young Bond novels that look at a seldom-seen part of James Bond’s life before he became a member of the Royal Navy and ultimately the secret agent working for M16 – his teen years when he attended prestigious Eton School.
The graphic novel is an adaptation of the first Young Bond novel, Silverfin written by James Bond fan Charlie Higson. The graphic novel is adapted by illustrator Kev Walker with scripting done by both Higson and Walker. The graphic novel was originally published in the U.K. in 2008 by Puffin.
Set in the 1930s, James Bond arrives at Eton School and is befriended by Pritpal, the son of an Indian Maharajah. They have a rude encounter with bully George Hellebore, an American student at Eton who is two years older than James. James also soon meets George’s father, Lord Randolph Hellebore, is a wealthy American arms dealer.
Soon while on holiday, James travels by train to Scotland where he meets his Aunt Charmian who is visiting Bond’s ailing uncle Andrew Bond, who is dying from cancer. Andrew teaches James how to drive a car and also confides in James that when he was young, he was a spy during World War I. James also meets another ally, “Red” Kelly, a teen who is heading to Scotland to help locate his missing cousin who disappeared near Lake Silverfin. Together they discover that Lord Hellebore owns a castle nearby Lake Silverfin, a lake that is infested with deadly flesh-eating eels, and is a leading suspect in the disappearance of “Red’s” lost cousin. Soon James becomes embroiled in his first taste of adventure as he discovers Lord Hellebore’s dark secret and the mystery of what lurks in the castle walls.
The adaptation is a very tight retelling of the first Young Bond novel. Like most adaptations, there’s only so much that can be included, but readers will be hard-pressed to be disappointed. Also refreshing is that like the novel, the graphic novel is set firmly in the 1930s. Instead of updating the character to the 21st century with him using cell phones and technology conveniences of modern technology, it’s a nice change of pace to keep it in line timeline-wise with Ian Fleming’s novels with the echoes of World War II on the horizon. Also fun are some of the in-jokes that Bond fans will love such as Bond’s number while racing co-incidentally is 007 and his uncle’s car that James learns to drive is a precursor to the famous Astin Martin.
Kev Walker has done a fantastic job translating the well-received first Young Bond novel. He’s able to smartly convey the mood of the characters without having to use barely any dialogue. His art style is reminiscent of P. Craig Russell and Mike Mignola. Clean lines, clear detail, and deft use of shadows give the characters and their environments real depth. It’s no wonder that Kev has now been snatched up as an illustrator for Marvel Comics.
The graphic novel, like the novels themselves, are clearly appropriate for teen audiences. There’s plenty of Bond-like action, gruesome scenes of torture (show in shadow), fighting, and death by flesh-eating eels that make this best appropriate for teen collections.
Here’s hoping that Hyperion will continue to publish more graphic novel adaptations of Charlie Higson’s excellent Young Bond novels.
About Mike Pawuk
Mike Pawuk has been a teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 15 years. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he was chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, served as a judge for the Will Eisner Awards in 2009, as well as helped to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee for YALSA. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, and co-author of the follow-up book Graphic Book II both published by Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO Publishing.
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