So there I was - I'd wrapped up my read of all the Modesty Blaise books, sniffled my way through Cobra Trap, browsed all the websites... even watched the terrifyingly surreal movie. What's next? Fortunately, Titan Books pointed out the blatantly obvious - Blaise started as a daily comic. And however much I'd achieved in plowing through the spin-off formats, there were still (at last count) 8 quadrillion strips to read.
The Girl in the Iron Mask (2013) is the latest of Titan's collection editions - there are, if I counted correctly, 23 of them to date. As a Blaise fan, I was pretty comfortable jumping right in. And, daily comics being the savvy institutions they are, each of the story-lines starts with a solid explanation of Modesty and her background. So, don't worry - you don't need to start at the beginning (The Gabriel Set-up, if you're interested.)
The Girl in the Iron Mask has three stories - Fiona, Walkabout and Mask. These ran, somewhat shockingly, between 1990 and 1991, but we'll get to that shortly. Each of the stories is introduced by Lawrence Blackmore, who does a good job putting them in context with the rest of the Blaise mythos and, despite being a Blaise expert, is clearly not blinded by the series' weaknesses.
Fiona is about as close as Blaise ever gets to slapstick. Modesty flies out to India to visit one of the old Network members - this time it is Sumi, a former nurse in the organisation's private hospital. Sumi and her husband, David, (who is insufferably dense) have a tiny clinic in the Chittigong Hills. They're doing good work, but Sumi is nervous. David is getting their supplies from a group of (obvious) criminals. Mr. Wu Smith (one of the series' few recurring villains) is essentially buying David's silence - and David's just too dumb to realise it.