Graphic Novel Review: Modesty Blaise: Live Bait

12:47 08 February 2012

Modesty Blaise: Live Bait!

Modesty Blaise: Live Bait!

(c) respective owner 2011

(Titan Books, £11.99)

A WELCOME return for the latest instalment in Titan’s mammoth reprinting of Peter O’Donnell’s cult heroine, who seems to have a knack for getting into trouble wherever she ends up.

Originally published by the Evening Standard in the 1960s, O’Donnell and frequent collaborator Eric Badia Romero provide crime thriller storylines with sass, wit and a touch of glamour, with Modesty’s varied career including periods as a spy, racketeer and all-round bad girl.

All of these stories are all perfectly accessible to new readers, and largely self-contained. Fans of kick-ass heroines and smart crime drama will join the likes of Quentin Tarantino in discovering exactly why Modesty Blaise is one of the greatest British comic strip characters ever created.

This 21st collection features the stories Samantha and the Cherub, Milord and Live Bait! which find Modesty and sidekick Willie Garvin caught up in people trafficking, a hostage drama and slasher movies.

There’s a definite style and sophistication to the creation of these strips, which had to progress a story in bite-sized chunks of three panels at a time, and O’Donnell’s concise storytelling techniques should be used as a template for many of today’s creators, whose bloated stories are often written for trade paperback collections rather than as individual comics.

Titan’s efforts in restoring both these deserve praise for keeping alive this important section of UK strip history, and these reprint volumes deserve a place on the shelves of any comics aficionado.

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