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Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Complete Jon Sable Freelance Volume 5 (Graphic Novel)

By: Mike Grell

Published: IDW Publishing (November 14, 2006)

Softcover 140 pages

Finished 4/5/2017

Amazon Listing   

          Collecting issues 22 through 27 of the creator owned independent comic published by First comics in the 1980s. Here we are close to halfway through the 45 issue initial run. Grell, perhaps tired of the single issue shoot-em-up format, gives us two overlapping arcs, lasting three issues each.
          The stories were a definite attempt to appeal to a more mature audience, and not just because of the sex scenes. Of course, I don’t understand why the sex is only for mature audiences, as the adolescent me would’ve appreciated it a whole lot more than the current older version. And there are a number of very well illustrated ones in this collection. Not hard core penetration, but let’s call it “tasteful nudes”.
          We continue on with Sable’s self-reflection on the direction of his life. What’s bothering him is his evolving relationship with Myke, the good girl character, for whom he has strong feelings.  He knows however that they would have to give up a part of himself were they to go further. But his overwhelming urge for action and adrenaline, clings to him. He loves the absolute certainty of having a mission and goal, as opposed to the rest of his rudderless existence. Like a junkie claiming that this will be his last fix, Sable looks for any excuse to chase the dragon. He knows it’s bad for him, but cannot help himself.
Mike Grell
          This introspection is what sets Jon Sable apart, as opposed to a character like The Punisher, who is generally only seen to kill criminals “for revenge”. Emotions like that eventually burn themselves out. A man can only swallow it for so long before he spits it back out. Sable’s addiction and his struggle with it, seems real.
          The first arc has Sable going after The Sparrow, a freelance assassin, essentially Sable dark mirror, with whom he has tussled before. Having recently broken out of prison and landed illegally in Israel, The Sparrow is planning some sort of terrorist attack. The CIA contact’s Sable to track him down and either bring him in or eliminate him, they much preferring the latter. After a series of violent escapades dealing with backstabs from the CIA and the IDF, Sable tracks down his target and makes a choice. Why I like this story is because there isn’t a big grand standoff between the two characters, they never even meet once. The only encounter is Sable starring at the target through a telescopic lens.
                    The second arc has Sable and Myke at his old family cabin where he tells her the story of his family and how his parent’s met. It was during WWII, Sable’s mother was an agent for the French Resistance and his father was an on the American side. She helps to smuggle him out of France after his plane is shot down. After a one night stand during the escape Sable is conceived. As always Grell’s use of action is superb, brutal and real. He never falls into the unrealistic trap of the characters having a conversation in the middle of a fist fight, which seems to be a mainstay of comic books. I never look at one of his scenes and think, “Well that’s just ridiculous.”

           For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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