A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 22, 23, and 24.

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1971-1972
Titan publication year: 2006

“The Stone Age Caper” is set in Australia. Modesty is vacationing with her new boyfriend David Collins when her old acquaintance Wu Smith comes by to warn Modesty not to buy anything for a while. Smith and his buddy are doing a heist and don’t want her involved. Meanwhile, Willie riding a camel in a desert. He comes across a wounded, pretty girl who says some people are after her. He takes her to an abandoned village to nurse her back to consciousness. He and Modesty communicate through radio and she decides to fly to him on a small plane. Wu Smith’s associates want her dead.

This story shows its age in dialog when Modesty and Willie are talking about the aboriginal Australians. They’re called “Abo” which would be quite offensive these days. On the other hand, one of the aboriginals in this strip was in Modesty’s criminal Network and clearly Modesty and Willie respect him and his skills. And there’s also a mention that the aboriginals don’t want to mess with the white men no matter what the white men do, because aboriginals know they will be blamed, no matter what. The aboriginals are clearly heroic in the story.

“The Puppet Master” is one of the most intense MB comics. The story starts with a chess game that the bad guys are playing. An elderly doctor Baum analyses the others’ moves. Next, Modesty is driving near Naples when she sees that a car has hit a donkey. She comes out of the car and the men attack her. She fights but one of them manages to inject her with a tranquilizer. She tries to fight but the drug overwhelms her.

Meanwhile, Willie is training Tarrant’s agents, especially a pretty new agent Maude. Tarrant comes in and tells Willie that Modesty’s car has been found; she’s been killed in the crash. They travel to Italy. Her body hasn’t been found abd Willie refuses to believe she’s dead. He remains in Italy to look for her. Tarrant thinks that Modesty’s is dead but he orders Maude to remain with Willie, to comfort and help him but also to learn from him.

The bad guys have, indeed, kidnapped Modesty and they’re brainwashing her to kill Willie.

One of my favorite tropes is the amnesia story line and I love this one. The bad guys try to convince Modesty that they’re her friends and she’s part of their criminal gang. Willie has sworn to kill her. Meanwhile, Willie and Maude are going through the Italian underworld. Maude is a smart and capable agent, but just learning the job. She appears in a couple of later strips, too.

“With Love From Rufus” is a more comedic story. Someone breaks into Modesty’s penthouse. He breaks to her safe which has been modified by Willie, so it’s not easy. However, in the morning she notices the break in and realizes that nothing has been taken and a bouquet of roses has been left in the safe with a note that they’re from Rufus.

Modesty is astonished and charmed. She meets with Scotland Yard’s inspector Brooke. He talks about a new genius jewel thief in London and introduces his young nephew Rufus to Modesty. Rufus is a huge fan of both Modesty and Willie. He gushes over her criminal exploits. When they go to Modesty’s car, three men attack them but Modesty fights them off. In her apartment, Willie has come to a surprise visit and is shocked to learn that the youngster has broken into the safe.

Modesty and Willie try to warn Rufus away from a life of crime, but Rufus is proud of his skills as a burglar and wants Modesty to fence the jewels he’s taken. Modesty is in a terrible position as Brooke’s friend. But when Rufus is kidnapped, the game turns deadly.

Rufus is around twenty but Modesty feels that she’s much older than him. His admiration feels uncomfortable to her but Willie (and the readers) think it’s funny.

All three are very good stories and I enjoyed them a lot.