With all the chatter about the possibility of the next James Bond being female, it’s worth noting that this concept was explored as far back as 1968-1970 in UK girls’ comics, ‘Tina’ and later ‘Princess Tina.’ I didn’t read these comics when they were originally published but have vague memories of the name, which has occasionally appeared in books on British comics. The artist was Mike Hubbard, but there’s scant information about the writer or whether multiple people contributed over the three-year span.
Though not directly related to a certain Scottish secret agent, the character shared the same name and an array of gadgets. In her inaugural story, she even had access to her own private plane and cars. The use of convenient gadgets to escape predicaments might seem like a writer’s crutch, sparing the need for ingenuity, but I doubt her target audience cared as long as she made her getaway. The artwork, however, is top-notch.
One advantage of having a spy or agent as a character is the flexibility it affords in terms of settings. Jane Bond is no exception, appearing in diverse locales including a circus while tracking down a spy.
Interestingly, the final story places Jane Bond on a “holiday,” which is really a mission to watch over a millionaire’s daughter and ultimately rescue her from kidnappers. This tale relies less on gadgets and more on ingenuity compared to the others.
While it’s easy to analyze these stories over 50 years after their publication, doing so won’t change them. Without the context provided by other contemporary stories in the comics, it’s challenging to fully appreciate their nuances. However, I can compare Jane Bond to other secret agents of her time, such as Emma Peel and Cathy Gale from ‘The Avengers,’ Modesty Blaise, Lady Penelope, and Honey West. Interestingly, Jane Bond is depicted in attire similar to Honey West in one panel, but that’s a one-off. Lady Penelope, for instance, would likely never use her lipstick as a two-way radio. In this regard, Jane Bond truly stands as her own character. One can only hope that we’ll see more reprints of various British comic adventure stories from this period.
(pub: Rebellion, 2023. 96 page softcover graphic novel. Price: vaeries ISBN: 978-1-78618-802-1)