Sunday, September 22, 2013
Jon Sable Freelance!
Mike Grell is doubtless a fine comic book artist with an immense track record of entertaining and well-crafted comics to his credit, both as a writer and as an artist. But I have to admit I was slow to appreciate his talents. It mostly has to do with his debut on the Legion of Super-Heroes which put him in the exceedingly unenviable position of having to follow Dave Cockrum. Grell had Cockrum's gloss but lacked the easy sense of anatomy which made so many of Cockrum's costumes work. And it has always been that oddball anatomy of his which leaves me a bit cool on Grell. But that said, I really like artists like Herb Trimpe and Steve Ditko who have decidedly specific ways to draw the human form. I should like Grell more than I have traditionally done.
But if I was going to fall under Grell's spell, it would have to be in the exceedingly well done series he concocted for the then-new First Comics in 1983. Jon Sable Freelance is Grell at the top of his game with a character who has a number of fascinating qualities. I've been on a First Comics kick lately so I went ahead and picked up the first volume of IDW's The Complete Jon Sable Freelance which reprints the first six issues of the series. These are the first two action-filled stories (one guest-starring Ronald Reagan no less) in which we meet Sable and his cast of characters and the four-part origin story which together form a reasonably tight tale overall. I owned all of these comics once upon a time, when I thought that First Comics might well be the way forward for the form, a smart well-organized company with top talent. They lasted longer than many, but failed ultimately to live up the expectations.