by Nick Chidgey If a Bond girl were to ever get her own comic strip, it would be Modesty Blaise.
Live Bait is another volume in Titan Books' series of reprints of the British classic Modesty Blaise comic strips that ran from 1963 to 2002. Created by well-known British crime writer Peter O'Donnell and artist Jim Holdaway, this collection features the art of Holdaway's successor, Enric Badia Romero, and collects three stories from the strip.
The series follows the adventures of beautiful Modesty Blaise, a former criminal mastermind, and her right hand man and best friend, Willie Garvin, as they find themselves involved in capers assigned by their connection, Sir Gerald Terrant, a high ranking official in the British Secret Service, or as a result of a run in with one of their many past criminal affiliations.
The writing by O'Donnell is spot on and despite the strips in the collection being over twenty years into the run of the series, each story presents no trouble in introducing our heroes in a clear and uncompromising manner, allowing for a smooth, and quite enjoyable, reading experience. Combined with the superb and classically-styled art of Romero, it's easy to forget that this isn't a mid-1980's European crime thriller, but in fact just a black and white comic strip.
Speaking of the art, however, brings up one flaw in the book: as it is a reprint, I don't know what source art was used for reproduction, but there are a few instances where it looks like someone took a newspaper and ran it through a photocopier in a hurry, leaving the art look like a bad Xerox copy in places, which is a shame because it doesn't do Romero's work justice. But these instances are few and far between, and shouldn't ruin an otherwise slick packaging and overall good read. This edition also contains bonus material including an introduction and a tribute to O'Donnell.
TL;DR: If you've never read Modesty Blaise before, this is as good a place as any to give it a try.
Modesty Blaise - Live Bait is a collection of three stories from the comic strip. Written by Peter O'Donnell with art by Enric Badia Romero. This collection is one in a series of reprints of the classic strip from Titan Books. You can ask for it at your local comic book shop, or, support Spandexless by purchasing a copy from our Amazon web store.
A review copy of Modesty Blaise - Live Bait was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.
Nick Chidgey is a contributor to Spandexless.