TITLE: Jon Sable Freelance vol. 1, Issue #1
YEAR: June 1983
COMPANY: First Comics
1983 and Ken F. Levin and Mike Gold would launch their own comic book company, First Comics.
Enticing writers and artists which included Frank Brunner, Mike Grell, Howard Chaykin, Joe Staton, Steven Grant, Timothy Truman, Jim Starlin, Mike Baron and Steve Rude, First Comics would provide creator-controlled opportunities that Marvel and DC didn’t. And that included paying royalties.
While Mike Gold would leave First Comics to become a senior editor for DC Comics, he would bring a few of these writers/artists along with him to DC and for Mike Grell, it would lead to him and his famed run with Green Arrow.
But for Mike Grell, he was always respected prior to “Green Arrow” due to his work with “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” but moreso for his work with “The Warlord”.
But Grell would leave “The Warlord” with issue #72, wanting to pursue his own projects. One was writing and drawing the “Tarzan” comic strip which ran from 1981-1983 and then developing his creator-owned titles “Jon Sable Freelance” and “Starslayer”.
The former, “Jon Sable Freelance” was beloved by those who read indie comics and it was one of the comic pre-cursors of “the Dark Age of Comics”, before Frank Miller would write “Daredevil” and “The Dark Knight Returns”, Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” and Chris Claremont’s “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, “God Loves, Man Kills” and “Days of Future Past”
One thing I love about Mike Grell’s work is that his writing is smart, his artwork is fantastic and a lot of thought goes into each issue that he is responsible for. And to think that “Jon Sable Freelance” would lead to an ABC TV series, “Sable” in 1987.
The series revolves around Jon Moses Sable, a man who is a children’s author and celebrity by day (in disguise and known as B.B. Flemm) and a mercenary by night.
In issue #1, President Ronald Reagan is visiting New York City and the New York PD has been put to shame due to the escape of child slayer Richard Dahl who was captured by professional bounty hunter, Jon Sable.
The President hires Sable to stop an assassin who plans to kill him during his visit to New York City. To Sable’s surprise, the President is aware of his past and also his alter ego thanks to his name and records being featured on the Central Computer of the Library of Congress.
In an effort to purge his name from those records, all Sable must do is stop the assassin, who the President tells Sable it’s his former mercenary friend, Milo Jackson.
As Sable goes to investigate and tries to find Milo, unfortunately Milo gets to him first and knocks him out cold.
As Sable goes to the PD and tries to warn them, he is put in jail as he may be a suspect. But when Sable goes to show the PD of who hired him for the latest job, he is released a day later and hopes he can still stop Milo.
But can Sable stop the assassin in time?
Overall, a wonderful first issue, full of suspense, action and great art and storytelling from Mike Grell. It was a comic book series that was well-praised but back in the early ’80s, indie comics didn’t have the same clout as today’s indie comics have. So, no doubt, “Jon Sable Freelance” was ahead of its time and if you can read it today, while it does reflect the time period, it’s still worth reading!