I remember seeing this issue of The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu back in 1975 sitting on a shelf among lurid detective magazines and other black and white comics like Creepy and Eerie at Davis Drug in Westville, NJ. I was never a fan of Marvel’s line of martial arts comics designed to cash in on the kung fu craze running riot on the screens of every inner city grindhouse at the time. I was curious about the addition of Roger Moore’s James Bond to the festivities, but not curious enough to part with 75¢. Three quarters of a dollar equalled three regular comic books at the time, and they were in color! I didn’t flip through the Kung Fu book because it was in dangerous proximity to the detective and chopper magazines featuring semi-nude women on their covers. I didn’t want the lady at the cash register thinking I was a pervert. I bought my regular comics from the spinner rack and left.
So for 48 years, I harbored the belief that Marvel Comics had licensed the Roger Moore version of 007 and put the character in their black and white line of comic magazines.
I got into arguments with buddy Bill Cucinotta who knows pretty much all there is to know about comics, and if he doesn’t, he certainly knows a whole lot more than I do! Bill said that Marvel did license Bond in the 1980s but denied that there was any such deal in the 1970s. He had never seen the magazine I was talking about and probably thought I had dreamt it. If Bill didn’t see or know about a comic, it probably didn’t exist.
But it did! The cover by Neal Adams popped up on a web portal dedicated to comic book art. Surely enough, there was Roger Moore wreaking hand-to-hand havoc on a group of formidable foes!
I had to see how the interior art was handled. Was it a story separate from the usual cast of The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu or did they weave Bond into the Marvel Universe? I had to know! I chased down a low grade copy on eBay that looked like it survived several vigorous reads by rambunctious kids in a school yard. I didn’t care about the condition. I just wanted to see it.
So I got it and carefully leafed through it for fear of the magazine falling apart. It starts out with a Master of Kung Fu story featuring Shang-Chi which I expected. The artwork by Rudy Nebres was beautiful particularly the car chases. Cars are hard to draw! It’s good stuff and exactly what I expected.
This is followed by the James Bond feature which is not at all what I thought it would be. It’s not a comic at all!
What follows is a 13 page review (including the two page picture spread) of The Man With the Golden Gun by comics writer Don McGregor. It’s a lengthy article broken up by the occasional still of a scene from the film, but it is mostly dense text. He leaves no stone unturned going over every foot of the film and what he likes and mostly doesn’t like about it. He is more of a fan of the novels and the previous 8 entries in the Bond franchise, and he takes the time and space to tell the reader precisely why. He’s not wrong, but he is painstakingly thorough describing his disappointment with the film. I don’t think The New York Times has ever published as lengthy a review of a notable film such as Citizen Kane or Apocalypse Now as McGregor has on a weak entry in a series of popcorn movies.
McGregor thought this was the beginning of the end of the Bond franchise and couldn’t imagine it lasting much longer. Of course, he was off by about five decades.
So there is no comic with James Bond. Just a lengthy editorial. Looking back at the cover it does say A CRITICAL OVERVIEW: JAMES BOND INVADES THE MARTIAL ARTS which is also a little misleading. There is a martial arts sequence in the The Man With The Golden Gun which McGregor writes about, but that isn’t the focus of his article.
The magazine finishes up with a comic installment of Sons of the Tiger featuring Abe Brown and private detective Alexander Byrd. The artwork is by George Perez and Rico Rival. This is followed by a few ads for body building and fighting secrets of the Orient and that’s all she wrote.
So Bill Cucinotta was right in that Marvel did not put out a Bond comic in the 1970s, but they were not above causing a little confusion by throwing an illustration of Roger Moore on the cover. A lot of people probably fell for it back then, and I did almost 50 years later.