Thursday, October 08, 2020 7:35:32 PM
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John Sable, Freelance – Mike Grell had an interesting story to tell with Jon Sable. I sort of hitman, sort of “hero for hire,” sort of bodyguard. With a well-crafted past but includes a fairly similar family tragedy to Punisher (but in Africa instead of New York) the book started off as an interesting head scratcher. Thankfully, Grell’s artwork is gorgeous and carries you through the moments of questionable plotting. There’s a decent attempt to make his alter ego, children’s book writer BB Flem, a major part of the plot but thankfully it takes a back seat while never fully going away. The series really hits its stride in the mid teens and throughout the 20s. And then there’s #33.
#33 is an interlude focused on the children’s book world and drawn by Sergio Aragones. It doesn’t work on any level. The jarring change in tone and art in this issue make it an easy spot to identify the overall downturn in the series. From here Grell draws 10 more issues with some successful stories but also some real clunkers. By the time he turns art duties over to a run of no-name and often terrible artists, the book is dead in the water. But there’s a relaunch an ABC tv show around the corner!
Sable tv show – The opening was graphically kind of cool with different designs coming into the screen to create his face paint. That and Rene Russo are the only high points. Even when I dismiss all the 80s cheese from this critique, that’s really all the positives. The actor playing Sable is absolutely awful. He does a prototype Christian Bale raspy/mumbly voice when playing Sable, except Sable is the real person and the “performance” should be when he plays Fleming (not Flemm here). Wikipedia notes that he is most well known for playing this role, which is pretty much all you need to know about this guy. The first IDW mini notes that the actor was brought in after production started to replace Gene Simmons. Which would have been spectacularly terrible instead of this ordinary terrible.
They switch up some of the character dynamics which are generally fine, except for the addition of Cheesecake, a heavy set, blind black man who has his own personal laugh track (as in he has a controller for his sound system) for his terrible attempts at stand-up jokes. This guy was brought in to be Sable’s Oracle who Sable literally pays in cheesecakes. Obviously, this just doesn’t work on any level.
The big flaws are the atrocious writing and bad acting. The concept is that people just place anonymous ads in a paper to hire Sable and that his Sable’s best abilities are climbing buildings and repelling, which they show constantly watering down the character. And every episode is just a murder mystery show with a heavy use of cameras at peoples’ feet as they walk and heavy synthesizer music building up to attempts at jump-scares.
Also, turns out the lady from Poltergeist still terrifies me. She turns up as a nun in episode 3 running an orphanage called “Glory Home” that I could have sworn they said “Glory Hole” for most of the episode. Not helped by the man co-running being Mr. Johnson.
Sable – The series relaunched with a new creative team and no Mike Grell at all. It starts out incredibly rough and is hit and miss throughout as it takes on some of the sensibilities of the tv show. Marv Wolfman took quite some time to find his feet with the character and even then was only exceptional with a co-writer. Otherwise, he is what I always feel like, over-simplistic, one-dimensional, and ham-fisted. I’d discuss the artwork, but there were so many pencilers (8) and inkers (9) over 27 issues there was rarely a consistent look. The main series penciler did a five and four issue run. No one inker did more than three issues in a row. It was decent at best and awful at worst. They also use the terrible tv pilot logo as the comic logo for seven issues (same number of total episodes!) and then change it to something better, but generic, for the remainder of the run.
Apparently Jon Sable made appearances in Shaman’s Tears, which I happen to be tracking down anyway. And there was an unfinished Maggie the Cat mini in the 90s, but I haven’t read either of those to date.
IDW John Sable, Freelance – In 2005 and 2010, 15+ years after the last Sable issue, IDW published two new mini-series completely written and drawn by Mike Grell. These ignore the entire Sable series and possibly the Grell written but not drawn issues towards the end of the original series. Good artwork by Grell but a weird usage of NYC photos in the second mini. The stories rely too heavy on origin which were a near constant focus in the two First series, so just beating a dead horse at this point. The worst part though is that these just came across as self-indulgent, out-of-touch, and hyper sexualized for no storytelling reason. Especially the second mini.
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I still can't get over that they had a tv show on this. Where did you find the series to watch?
Could never stand Rene Russo.