October 9, 2012 at 11:59 am By:

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved a good spy story.  I grew up reading Robert Ludlum and watching James Bond.  To this day, 007 remains the measuring stick against which all other action heroes are compared.

Nothing beats a good spy plot and nothing is worse that a half-baked one.  This is true for novels, films and comics as well.

Three of the best comic strips currently being reprinted in collected editions involve super spies and for all Espionage fans–I am going to see if I can steer you all over to the comic strip section of the store and enter the world of double agents, action, global scale danger but above all else terrific art and exciting storytelling.

First up is the granddaddy of them all–James Bond.  Titan books has been publishing the entire run of James Bond comic strip–which ran in British newspapers from 1958 to 1984!!!  Originally adapted by Bond creator Ian Fleming and then handled by other writers including  noted novelist Martin Amis, the Bond strip focuses on the characters from the source material and captures the feel of the original novels.  There is less pyrotechnics and more tense drama.  The Cold War is still threatening to go hot any minute and James Bond is right there keeping the world safe with enough time left over to enjoy his cars, his women and his martinis. (Not necessarily in that order)  Although any of the volumes will do nicely– I highly recommend  Colonel Sun, Death Wing, Golden Ghost, The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy, Phoenix Project, Spy Who Loved Me and Trouble Spot . Each volume contains three or four complete and self-contained stories. So pick up any one.  You will end up buying them all and then you will find yourself reading the original novels as well. Great Stuff!

Now, across the pond here in America, the talented comic team of writer Archie Goodwin and artist Al Williamson were asked to breath new life into the long running daily comic strip Secret Agent X-9 which was created by the unlikely team of Dashiell (Sam Spade) Hammett and Alex (Flash Gordon) Raymond way back in 1934!.  Rechristened  Secret Agent Corrigan, Goodwin and Williamson did more than just invigorate the strip, they made it their own.  For over 12 years, from 1967 to 1980, they turned Secret Agent Corrigan into arguably the last great adventure comic strip published in the US.  The stories are fast paced, exciting, economical and intelligent.  The storytelling is clear and beautifully rendered.  Each daily strip contains panels which are never too busy that the art becomes a distraction. Any volume of the IDW published series will do the job, but I especially recommend Volumes 2, 3 and 4. Greater Stuff!


OK–Bond is a terrific read, and Corrigan is a true high-point in adventure strip history, but I saved the best Spy strip for last – Modesty Blaise.  Along with Steve Canyon and Johnny Hazard, Modesty Blaise is in my top three all-time favorite comic strips.  The plots are intelligent and exciting and above all–consistent. The strip ran in Britain for over 20 years and when the creator/writer Peter O’Donnell finally shut down his word processor, longtime fans were angry. In over 100 adventures, O’Donnell never repeated himself– and more importantly, the strip never “jumped the shark.” What really made Modesty Blaise hum was the relationship between the title heroine and her partner the very lethal Willie Garvin.  Their relationship was unlike any in fiction.  There was no sexual tension– instead their friendship was based on mutual admiration and respect.  And that respect was hard-earned. In these reprint books, the danger is real and the setting, tone and illustration are strictly for adults! Any volume will do the series justice, but Cry Wolf, Death Trap, Gallows Bird, Green-Eyed Monster, Sweet Caroline, Top Traitor, Black Pearl, Yellowstone Booty and Puppet Master are all essentials! Greatest stuff!!!

Now you see what Willie Garvin sees!

So if you are a fan of spy fiction, these three titles really fit the bill.  Give any one a try–you will be back for more.  Like the owner of the Men’s Warehouse, I guarantee it.



Filed Under: DISCUSS, Reviews, Where Do I Start?

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