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Modesty Blaise: Cry Wolf
Peter O'Donnell and Enric Badia Romero
Titan paperback £10.99

review by Barry Forshaw

Since the creator of the most acclaimed heroine in British literary history retired Modesty Blaise, Peter O'Donnell could probably have rested on his laurels. Certainly, he could afford to. But since retiring from the long-running newspaper strip (and the even more impressive concurrent novels) and putting a decisive end to Modesty and Willie Garvin's adventures, O'Donnell has found his time as packed as ever. Modesty's popularity in both the strips and books continues to grow - just try punching the words 'Modesty Blaise' up on the web and you'll see what I mean. And the recent feature film, My Name Is Modesty, finally emerged from development hell to prove - well, no great shakes, but considerably better than the dismal Joseph Losey cinematic demolition of the character with a miscast Monica Vitti (certainly O'Donnell is less depressed by the mention of the new movie than he was by Modesty's first screen incarnation).

The success of everything O'Donnell has produced - as this latest collection of strips proves - is the complex and intelligent writing. Modesty Blaise was not only the best comic strip ever produced in Britain, but (some would argue) the finest in the entire history of the medium - certainly the most adult. That said, the strip's heyday was undoubtedly its early days when O'Donnell's matchless writing was complemented by the brilliant draftsmanhip of the late Jim Holdaway; Romero, who succeeded Holdaway (and had the longest innings as an artist on the strip) was talented, but eternally in the shadow of the graphic flair of his predecessor. However, the stories here have all the customary virtues; in Cry Wolf, Modesty and Willie are lured into a fake kidnapping plot, with suspense-generation the order of the day, while the two other stories, Take Me To Your Leader and Highland Witch, while not vintage Romero, are still solidly crafted. An unmissable collection - but make sure you have the early O'Donnell/ Holdaway collections in Titan's series.
Modesty Blaise: Cry Wolf

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