SILVERFIN: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL is Charlie Higson's adaptation of his first "Young James Bond" adventure novel in comic format. Those novels supposedly tell tales of James Bond in his formative years, long before he became a secret agent. It sounded like a fun idea that was made to pull in new, younger readers; however, from what I've seen in this graphic novel, I no longer have that impression. Instead, it seems to be geared towards older fans of Ian Fleming's original novels or of the movies, but I can't see much appeal from that angle, either.
The plot involves young Bond reporting for his first year at Eton College, running afoul of a fellow student and his mysterious father, and investigating the goings-on at an old Scottish castle. Fair enough... it wouldn't be Bond without some degree of mystery, right? But instead of trying to provide readers with some original adventures or insights into Bond's youth, Higson gets lazy and falls back on the standard tropes associated with the adult Bond: the death-defying action, the beautiful woman with the quirky name, and most unbelievable of all, the megalomaniacal villain and his weird henchmen. Yep, all this happens to a boy of thirteen or so. In addition, there are groan-inducing nods to his future 00-number and his eventual smoking and drinking habits, along with his uncle, a former spy, telling him "don't go into the spy business". *WINK WINK* In a way, Higson seems intent on diminishing the signature characteristics of Fleming's novels - am I supposed to believe that James Bond was predestined to be a spy? That he's so good at it because he's been doing the same old thing since his early teens? Add to this a lot of laughable coincidences and forced conflict, and the result is a clumsy story that reads more like fan fiction.
The only highlight of this book is Kev Walker's art. It's slightly cartoony, but it's so slick and detailed that it kicks the rating up from one star. It's just a shame that Walker's work had to be used on such an unsatisfying story. If I were rating this book on the art alone, it'd get five stars.