Jon Sable: Freelance
by Mike Grell
(First Comics, 1980s; IDW, 2005)

Back in the 1980s, there was a comic book publisher called First Comics. Said publisher produced many different genres of comics, many of which gained quite the loyal following. One of those titles, about to make a comeback under the umbrella of a different publisher, is Jon Sable: Freelance. It was special, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Jon Sable was a "merc" -- a mercenary, or gun for hire. You know the type. Someone who'll do just about any kind of job, as long as it's lucrative. What was different about Sable was that he led a double-life. You see, under the pen name of B.B. Flemm, he also wrote children's books (cue confused Scooby sound). He did that for the money, as well. At least, that's what he told people.

This was just the tip of the iceberg where this complex character was concerned, folks. All thanks to creator, writer and artist Mike Grell. Grell quite possibly did his best character work in comics with Jon Sable. His character was multi-layered, if you will, having suffered terrible tragedy in his past (typical in many classic comics characters) and having backgrounds in big game hunting, military service and, of course, various mercenary endeavors.

Over time, Grell began to chip away at the persona of the mercenary who did what he did purely for financial gain, giving readers a look at something else. Something deeper, and more hopeful. It was, indeed, a beautiful thing.

Another beautiful thing was Grell's artwork. A thoroughly realistic style, in the tradition of the likes of Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, coupled with a fine sense of detail and depth make this book nigh irresistible. I bet you'll think so, too. Jon Sable: Freelance is recommended for those who enjoy action, adventure, political intrigue and James Bond-style hijinks.

- Rambles
written by Mark Allen
published 1 January 2005

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