01/06/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books. 104 page graphic novel. Price: £11.99 (UK), $19.95 (US), $22.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84856-106-9.
check out website: www.titanbooks.com
The first of the two volumes of 'Modesty Blaise' newspaper strip stories for this year is out and we move firmly into the tenure of Neville Colvin as its artist. Unlike Jim Holdaway, Enrico Romero and John Burns, Colvin's style got murkier as the three stories included here shows but at the half-way point through Titan's release of the stories, we're at a significant step through seeing all of the Princess' adventures released in this format the UK.
The extras treat this time comes from Modesty Blaise expert Lawrence Blackmore where he not only explains about the Glasgow Evening Citizen newspaper also printing the strip but shows the extra day's panels added to ensure they kept in synchronous with the 'Evening Standard'. In many respects, these extra panels are treading water but the completests of you are going to love seeing them.
The first story here, 'Dossier On Pluto' brings dolphins into the storyline. Author Peter O'Donnell comments about his love for the cetaceans which if you read the third Modesty novel, 'I, Lucifer', surfaced there as well. Modesty is spending some time with an oceanographer doing research with dolphins when Squire Maitland, his captain, Gasper, and crew are intent on stealing his notes under contract from the Russians.
They get outwitted by Modesty and before they resume their attack, she brings in Willie Garvin to take the initiative. This is a nicely rounded story, leaving plenty of twists and neck-pulling and a lot of deep water.
The second story, 'The Lady Killers', and from which the title of the book comes from, gives a glimpse of when Modesty Blaise was she was running the Network. She is helped by a Norwegian sea captain when a rival gang tries to assassinate her and remains in his debt for ten years. It is then, while she and Willie Garvin are in Tangier that he wants some help against a protection racket pushing a girl-friend of his who runs a bar.
They do this in true Network style only to discover the head of the protection racket was a go-between for a bunch of female terrorists called the Daughters Of Freedom who have kidnapped a young girl. Modesty then becomes the live bait to rescue the girl and if you want more, read the story.
I should point out an error in this story so you don't copy it in a real life situation. If a real diabetic collapses, they don't actually need insulin as a dose of that will surely make the coma worse and is a potential killer. A liquid dose of sugar or glucose is more effective and drank if they are semi-conscious followed by some solid carbohydrate.
The third story, 'Garvin's Travels' has Willie and Maude Tiller, a agent of Tarrant, are just about to start holidaying on Taupita when they are captured, not without a couple of fights, by members of the University Of Health. Dr. Yago and Dr. Vole intend to brainwash them as part of their experimental treatments.
Meanwhile in England, Modesty Blaise talks herself into doing a job for Tarrant instead of seeing Maude recalled. Except she wouldn't be recalled because the job is on Taupita, investigating the University Of Health. Do I need to tell you that the plots dove-tail. Actually, if I do then I'm giving away major spoiler in this story and why should I spoil the surprise as I hope you're picking this book up anyway.
What is interesting is that we get to see a couple frames of Maude Tiller in her birthday suit which cost artist John Burns his job when he did it with Modesty.
All three stories were in the papers from 1980-81. There is very little in the way of adventure strips in British newspapers today. Peter O'Donnell was one of the greats and these stories certainly need your attention, even if it's only a respite from our regular genre. It would certainly encourage publishers Titan to do something with other material like the early 'Gareth', which O'Donnell also wrote and drawn by John Allard in the early 60s.
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