James Bond vs. the ’80s

We are increasingly left with a sort of bland guy who just happens to be named James Bond — which, in a way, might be bringing the character back around to how Fleming originally imagined him, as an anonymous blunt instrument into whom a reader could pour his or her own identity; a characterless cypher of a man who might not be interesting but to whom interesting things happened. But honestly, by the middle of the 1980s, with decades of suave, awesome James Bond under our belts, did anyone really want an anonymous 007?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

A well-written Bond and Tracey are key components of the success of this novel, but it wouldn’t have gone anywhere without an equally strong villain. Fleming had been floundering for a decent villain for a while, relying largely on a cast of increasingly outrageous comic book villains until he struck gold with Emilio Largo, a villain with a believable yet still larger-than-life personality that made him every bit the match for Bond.