Friday, October 14, 2011

Modesty Blaise: Top Traitor, by Peter O'Donnell & Jim Holdaway

(pb - graphic novel; compiled and republished in 2004. Third book in the Modesty Blaise graphic novel series)

From the back cover:

"With a mind as sharp as her fashion sense and fighting skills worthy of any she-samurai, Modesty Blaise - cult creation of best-selling author Peter O'Donnell - is back in another classic collector's edition from Titan!

"In three thrilling, nerve-shattering stories - Top Traitor, The Vikings and The Head Girls - Modesty must rip deeply through her own organisation to uncover a spy, do battle with homicidal Norsemen and cross claws with a pride of she-kittens led by an old adversary!"


The three-frame, continuous-story comic strips in this collection ran in the London Evening Standard newspaper, from February 1966 to November 1966.

Modesty Blaise and her sidekick, Willie Garvin, retired Syndicate operatives, thrice again help - not as employees, but free agents - the British government foil nefarious and bizarre foes.

In "Top Traitor," Sir Gerald Tarrant - Blaise and Garvin's close friend and main government contact - is kidnapped, and made to look like a Kim Philby-esque spy. Of course, those who have worked with Tarrant (namely Blaise and Garvin) know better, and set out to not only rescue him, but prove his innocence.

The second story cycle, "The Vikings," reunites Blaise and Garvin with a former, blundering Syndicate employee, Olaf, now working under a retro-minded robber (Magnus), who favors ancient Norse attitudes and violent, money-minded raids.

"The Head Girls" finds Blaise and Garvin figuring out, and thwarting an old enemy's blackmail scheme to steal a new formula that could irrevocably alter the government's military strategy - fans of the "The Gabriel Set-Up" will likely, particularly, enjoy this one.

These strip story-cycles are just as exciting, charming, clever and cliff-hanger-ish as the ones that preceded them in Modesty Blaise: The Gabriel Set-Up. (I haven't read the second Modesty graphic novel, Modesty Blaise: Mister Sun, because I don't own it - yet.)

Fans of Sixties spy films, television series and books (Ian Fleming's fourteen-book 007/James Bond series, the Flint films, etc.) will likely appreciate the thoughtful, stylish stories contained in these Modesty volumes.

Followed by Modesty Blaise: The Black Pearl.

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