100 All-Time Greatest Comics… Improved: Part II

I’ve started, so I might as well go on, albeit on a fortnightly schedule so I don’t end up boring you all.

Alias: The Secret Origins of Jessica Jones

Alias Vol 4

Whilst I do like Brian Michael Bendis’ work, and Alias is a good read, it seems a little strange for Uncanny Comics to insist that you should start with the last story arc, even if that they insist it’s “the perfect Jessica Jones story”. I would suspect they included it solely due to the forthcoming Jessica Jones tv show on Netflix… if they didn’t mention the show in the very first sentence of their recommendation. Shame, really, as their reasoning is quite solid; Jessica is indeed a believeable female protagonist with many flaws who still perseveres and overcomes adversities.

Looking back at that last sentence of mine, it reminds me of something…

The Replacement… Modesty Blaise: The Gabriel Set-Up

MB1

… Ah yes, one of the finest comic strips ever made.

Just to get things out of the way, this is just another case of “It’s not that x is bad, it’s that y is better” and Modesty Blaise is just so damn wonderful, it seems almost unfair to pit her against Ms. Jones – not only does she have several decades worth of stories (39 years, compared to Alias‘ 26 months) but every single one of them was superb. Having read every single Modesty Blaise story arc barring the last two (I’m a coward when it comes to teary goodbyes) I can say with some authority that Peter O’Donnell never wrote anything less than a good story.

But his early work on Modesty Blaise was perhaps his best, and frankly it only makes sense to start with the very first stories. Modesty is immediately established as somebody to be reckoned with, but also somebody with a past that will never let her go, even if she really wanted it to. Jim Holdaway, who sadly passed away in 1970 (halfway through a Modesty story arc, which must have galled him), brought a wonderfully moody atmosphere to proceedings, defining all the characters in the strip as sharply as O’Donnell’s words did; there are few comics with as satisfying a climax as that of the title story, The Gabriel Set-Up. Seriously, just go read it.

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