Modesty Blaise: The Lady Killers, the fifteenth collection of Modesty Blaise stories from Titan, is as fresh as the first, proving once again the incredible talent author Peter O'Donnell had for creating storylines that could keep you on the edge of your seat for five months. Once you step beyond the very basics of good guys vs. bad guys—the conflict at the heart of most stories, not just Modesty Blaise—O'Donnell kept readers hooked through meticulously worked-out plots and ever-interesting characters and situations. Central to most of the stories is to have the odds stacked against Modesty or Willie to the point where escape seems impossible and death inevitable. How they turn these situations around is always exciting and incredibly satisfying.
In "Dossier on Pluto", Modesty's working holiday in Mexico helping researcher Steve Taylor (a semi-regular in the strip) study dolphins is interrupted by intruders in the pay of the K.G.B. out to steal Taylor's scientific data; in "The Lady Killers", Modesty does a favour for a former Network colleague and accidentally intercepts the ransom being paid for a young girl who has been kidnapped; and in "Garvin's Travels", Willie and his girlfriend, Maude Tiller, are kidnapped and brainwashed as part of a scientific experiment.
All three stories are drawn by Neville Colvin, whose style is a call-back to the original Jim Holdaway art. He's not as stylish as John Burns, nor as slick as Romero, but his artwork is excellent throughout and his six years on the strip are all worth seeking out.
The Titan run of Modesty has now reached the halfway mark and still manages to pull a few surprises: Laurence Blackmore's introduction reproduces a number of strips that appeared in the Glasgow Evening Citizen on bank holidays when the Evening Standard was not published. 15 scarce Jim Holdaway strips are reproduced nationally for the first time, including the last Modesty strip he ever drew (redrawn by Romero for its appearance in the Standard); meaningless to readers in terms of plot and story but gold dust to fans of Jim Holdaway.
Modesty Blaise: The Lady Killers. Titan Books ISBN 978-1848561069, 24 April 2009.