A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 4-6.

1155887

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1964-1965
Titan publication year: 2004

This is a another very good collection of early Modesty adventures.

“Mister Sun” is set during Vietnam War and introduces one recurring character: Weng. The story starts with Weng whose whole family died when he was quite young. Modesty found him starving on the streets and took him under her wing. She’s currently paying for his university studies. However, Weng notices something in a newspaper and then he needs need money desperately. He’s already so indebted to Modesty that he feels that he can’t ask for more. So, he goes to a local crime lord, Mr. Sun. Sun agrees to help him, but for a price. Sun knows his tie to Modesty and he hates her, so he uses Weng to put a trap for Modesty.

Modesty hears that Weng has gone missing and travels to Hong Kong to investigate. When Mr. Sun contacts her, he has a suggestion: he’ll tell her where Weng is but only if Modesty will smuggle eight kilos of heroin for Sun. If she won’t, he’ll kill Weng.

This story features a ruthless and truly evil villain. Sun is one of the biggest crime lords in Hong Kong: he’s responsible for 70% of the city’s drug trafficking. He hates Modesty, because she’s broken up his ring in the past, and wants to break her mind before killing her. He knows how much Modesty hates drugs so forcing her to smuggle it will be his triumph.

This is also the story where we see for the first time a practice fight between Modesty and Willie. They practice as hard as they can: only softening killing or incapacitating blows. This time, as many other times, they use martial arts without weapons.

Despite his progressive views on feminism, O’Donnell does have his drawbacks as well, namely racism and homophobia. This story was written in 1964 and it shows: the Asian characters are very stereotypical, either evil or submissive to white rule.

“The Mind of Mrs Drake” starts with Mrs. Drake who is a psychic; when she touches an object she gets impressions of future or current events happening to the item’s owner. We know right from the start that she’s up to no good because she’s scheming with sinister looking chap called Korzon. She’s worried because a client has written a full confession which presumably would expose her and Korzon. Korzon reassures her that it will be taken care of. Next, Drake does a reading for her client and a little later Korzon kills the client.

Then Modesty enters the story. She’s playing tennis with a beautiful blonde Jeannie. Jeannie is actually Tarrant’s agent, working for British intelligence. Tarrant has sent her to be bait for Mrs. Drake and Jeannie is a bit scared of the job. However, she continues with it. Then Jeannie is kidnapped from her father’s home, right from the living room. Her father is a retired Navy agent and now blind. When Tarrant tells Modesty and Willie what happened, she sets up an appointment with Drake, determined to get Jeannie back.

This story clearly illustrates Modesty’s and Willie’s loyalty to any person who they consider their friend. If anything happens to any of them, they’ll walk through fire to set things right again. The ending also shows their kindness. Interestingly enough, Jeannie’s father, Mr. Challon, has a major part late in the story. He’s blind but his other senses have grown stronger to compensate for that and he proves to be very useful in a unusual situation. In later stories, O’Donnell has another blind person who can “see” with their ears.

In “Uncle Happy” Modesty is on a holiday in San Diego diving and harpooning fish. When she harpoons one big seabass, a very cranky underwater photographer, Steve Taylor, yells at her for ruining his photo. Of course, he can’t resist her, and they become lovers. After a few days, they go to Las Vegas. But while they’re playing in one of the casinos, Modesty sees a strange looking man glaring at her new lover. Later, two thugs kidnap Steve intending to murder him. Luckily, Modesty is there to stop it. She has questions to him and Steve has questions about her, but instead of resolving things, Steve leaves.

A couple of days later, Willie arrives. Apparently, one of his previous girlfriends has been murdered and the person responsible is the strange looking man in the casino. The man pretends to be a philanthropist and the press even calls him Uncle Happy. He has a island for disenfranchised kids, mostly girls. Modesty and Willie are determined to find out what’s going on. Steve also shows up.

These were good, early adventures with meticulous plotting and lots of action.