On August 12, 1964, the British author and journalist Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, the world’s most famous fictional spy, dies of a heart attack at age 56 in Kent, England. Fleming’s series of novels about the debonair Agent 007, based in part on their dashing author’s real-life experiences, spawned one of the most lucrative film franchises in history. He died before the films were successful.
The first Bond book, Casino Royale, was published in 1953. Ian Fleming wrote 12 novels and two short story collections about Agent 007, which together sold more than 18 million copies. According to TheNew York Times: “Bond himself, Fleming said, was ‘a compound of all the secret agents and commandos I met during the war,’ but his tastes– in blondes, martinis ‘shaken, not stirred,’ expensively tailored suits, scrambled eggs, short-sleeved shirts, and Rolex watches–were Fleming’s own. But not all the comparisons were ones the author liked to encourage. Bond, he said, had ‘more guts than I have’ as well as being ‘more handsome.’”
In Casino Royale British secret agent James Bond is given an assignment of gambling at the casino in Royale-les-Eaux to bankrupt Le Chiffre, the treasurer of a French union and a member of the Russian secret. But soon the stakes run higher…
The villain is Le Chiffre, a spy for the Soviet Union working in France as the undercover paymaster of a communist-controlled trade union. Le Chiffre had diverted Soviet funds intended for the union and used them to purchase a string of brothels shortly before a new law banned brothels in France. He now plans to recoup the money at the gambling tables of Casino Royale, in the resort town of Royale-les-Eaux, France. In Bond tradition, he gets a bang for your buck casinos, but that all started here in the Casino Royale.
In France, René Mathis, who works for the French espionage agency, informs Bond that an enemy microphone has been placed in his hotel room. In a bar, he later introduces Bond to the lovely Vesper Lynd, who is to be Bond’s partner. When Bond leaves the bar, two men try unsuccessfully to kill him with a bomb. Later he meets Felix Leiter, an American CIA agent also working on the case. That evening Bond settles down at the baccarat table where Le Chiffre is playing, while Lynd and Leiter observe. Although Bond wins at first, his luck changes, and soon his money is gone. Leiter sends over an envelope containing 32 million francs, and Bond bets it all. One of Le Chiffre’s men presses a gun into the base of his spine, but, by falling backward in his chair, Bond knocks the weapon out of the man’s hand. He resumes playing, and this time he wins, leaving Le Chiffre cleaned out.
Later that night Lynd is kidnapped by Le Chiffre and his gunmen. Bond gives chase, but Le Chiffre uses metal spikes to cause Bond’s car to crash, and he too is captured. Bond and Lynd are taken to a vacant villa and separated. Le Chiffre tortures Bond to get him to divulge the location of his gambling winnings. However, he is interrupted by the arrival of an agent from SMERSH, the Soviet agency in charge of dealing with wayward operatives, and the man kills Le Chiffre.
A few days later Bond wakes up in a medical facility and learns that he was rescued by Mathis. Lynd becomes a regular visitor as he convalesces, and, when he is released, she takes him to a small, charming hotel on the French coast. There they spend an idyllic few days until he catches her making a clandestine phone call. After a period of suspicion and awkwardness, they resume intimacies, but the next morning she is found dead in her bed, an apparent suicide. She has left him a note confessing to having been a double agent.
Out of this story, there have also been comic adaptations.
In 2005 Titan Books republished James Bond: Casino Royale
Reprints James Bond comic strip (series 1): July 7, 1958, to December 13, 1958, December 15, 1958, to March 28, 1959, and March 30, 1959, to August 8, 1959; Reprints James Bond comic strip (series 1) #1-225; Over-size; 96 pages; Adapts Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker; Collects James Bond comic strip stories: Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker; Includes new text features; B&W
In 2016 Titan Books collected Casino Royale and other stories in The Complete James Bond: Dr. No – The Classic Comic Strip Collection 1958-60 Hardcover
In his first mission, James must neutralize a Russian operative by ruining him at the baccarat table. Lady Luck appears to be with Bond as his target hits a losing streak, but Bond’s attraction to a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster… Next, when two MI5 agents disappear in Jamaica, Bond is sent to investigate — but a mysterious assailant attempts to dispatch 007 with everything from poisoned nectarines to killer centipedes! And when Bond links the attacks to the island of Crab Key, owned by the mysterious Doctor No, his troubles are just beginning!
This volume also collects classic Bond stories Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker, Live and Let Die, and From Russia, With Love.
In 2018 Dynamite Entertainment published James Bond: Casino Royale
Ian Fleming’s literary debut of British Secret Service agent 007 is stylishly adapted to the sequential art medium by Van Jensen and Matt Southworth in the official James Bond: Casino Royale graphic novel. Sent to a French casino in Royale-les-Eaux, Bond aims to eliminate the threat of the deadly Le Chiffre by bankrupting the ruthless SMERSH operative at the baccarat table. However, when the luck of the draw favors his enemy, 007 becomes the target of assassins and torturers in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse.
It can be found on ComiXology now.