A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 7-9.

797286

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1965-1966
Titan publication year: 2004

This is another very good collection of early Modesty adventures. The first one, Top Traitor, is one of my favorites.

In “Top Traitor” Willie is accidentally spending the night in Modesty’s guest room when someone breaks into Modesty’s penthouse. The burglar turns out to be James Fraser, Sir Gerard Tarrant’s right hand man and a former British Intelligence field agent. Tarrant has disappeared and a very sensitive file is missing. Tarrant’s bosses think that he has defected. Fraser doesn’t believe that but he’s watched, so he must secretly contact Modesty and Willie. Only two people, in addition to Fraser and Tarrant, have access to the file. So, one of them must be the traitor. Both are, of course, very high ranked in British intelligence. But that doesn’t stop Modesty and Willie from kidnapping them and interrogating them in their own unique way. Then, Modesty and Willie must get Tarrant back from a very secure place abroad.

This was lots of fun with elements I enjoy a lot: Modesty and Willie undercover, this time in a back country village near Germany (however, I’m sure anyone from around there would cringe to see these stereotypes), and their wit peeking through in the way the two top agents are interrogated. Also, Modesty and Willie’s absolute faith in Tarrant’s loyalty. Lovely!

“The Vikings” is a bit wilder tale. A group of modern pirates are robbing people all around the coasts from Denmark to Spain, dressed as vikings. One of the victims recognizes one of the pirates – as his own son Olaf. The Vikings are a group of young men partying just as hard as they “work”. Their leader is the hardest and wildest of the group, looking for a better challenge in soft, modern times.

Modesty and Willie are on a holiday in Sweden, ice boating. The Vikings’ victim approaches Modesty and accuses that his son, Olaf, has become a criminal because of her. It turns out that Olaf was, indeed, part of Modesty’s criminal organization, the Network, but Olaf came to her and was, in fact, a liability so Modesty isn’t eager to help him. However, Olaf is married, Modesty goes to meet with his wife. She asks Modesty’s help and Modesty agrees. But the Viking boss is delighted to get a better challenge in Modesty.

This story shows Modesty’s (and Willie’s) ethical code. Modesty wants to help Olaf’s wife and they first try to talk the Vikings’ leader to release Olaf. It’s the first real glimpse we have of the Network in action, except for the mention in “Mr. Sun” that Modesty had broken up drug smuggling rings. Later we hear that she also broke up human trafficking rings. When Modesty was doing crime, she wasn’t just robbing things randomly; she researched her targets meticulously and used as little violence as possible. The same thing is true of the next story.

“The Head Girls” starts about a month after the ending of “the Vikings”. Modesty has healed from her wounds and is vacationing in the Hebrides. Willie comes to meet her. When they head back from the beach, two men stop them. The men claim that they’re guards of the nearby government research station but Modesty knows they’re lying. Modesty and Willie knock them out and realize that they’re actually industrial spies, spying on the station. They give the men over to the station’s security. Meanwhile, in the station we find out that the station’s lead researcher’s “perfect” secretary is also a spy. When the two spies are caught, the secretary is ordered to kill them.

Meanwhile, the lead researcher has gone to meet Modesty and Willie. During their Network days, they actually stole the researcher’s previous work but sold it back to him at a reasonable price. He holds no grudge, and Modesty even asks him to spend some time with them when he’s in London. He accepts because his newest invention is ready and he’s selling it to the government. But when he gets back to London, there’s an explosion and he’s killed. Modesty and Willie investigate.

This story also refers to Modesty Network days. By all accounts, she was just the same person then: loyal to her people and with her own code of honor. In this story, too, the stakes turn out to be very personal to our heroes.

The plots in the MB strips are pretty complex. Sometimes they’re far fetched but they’re often well-thought out and enjoyable when reread, too. I very much enjoyed these ones.