Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #108: Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes of Eden by Mike Grell

I feel bad picking on Jon Sable. He's a favorite of the ComicMix team, and they've been very nice to me over the years. In fact, the book I have here is a limited edition for Baltimore Comic-Con 2008 -- number 96 of 100. [1] It makes me wish I liked it better.

But we can't choose to like things, can we? I've never been any good at that. (I read four Jon Sable collections two years ago, which I was not able to choose to like, and buried my thoughts about them in a belated round-up post.)

Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes of Eden was a new story about the ex-big-game-hunter turned freelance security expert and bestselling kids-book writer, appearing on the ComicMix site before being collected into book form a decade ago. (That was a model that had a lot of promise in those days. And people do buy books of comics that appear online first, it's just that they only seem to buy them if the books and comics can creditably claim to be self-published.)

Ashes of Eden has got some big-white-hunter stuff -- you have to expect that with Jon Sable Freelance; it's baked into his origin as deeply as possible -- but I didn't find it particularly racist, maybe because this story takes place mostly in the US. It's a bit sexist, but if we're going to complain about that in mainstream comics we'll be here all day.

Jon is hired to guard a fabulous diamond and a fabulous dame, both coming from South Africa to NYC for an auction. (The dame is going to MC the auction, more or less.) The diamond is massive, and is expected to be world-famous once it's cut. The dame is a fictional Iraqi version of Sharbat Gula, somewhere in her mid-20s and oozing sex and neediness the way such women always do in stories about tough gun-slinging men told by other men. There are, of course, nefarious forces that want to hijack the diamond, which is why it needs guarding. The dame -- I might as well give her her name: Bashira -- needs guarding because she's the kind of recovering addict who has no self-control but looks absolutely perfect at all times. (She's addicted to drugs, obviously. Grell also makes the obvious hints that she's addicted to sex and danger, as all such fictional women must be.)

Jon gets Bashira and what's eventually called The Maguffin Diamond to the auction, where of course further nefarious actions happen. Some of them are the obvious ones, and some of them are slightly less obvious. Jon's old nemesis/lover Maggie the Cat -- the obligatory gorgeous female cat burglar -- also becomes involved, hint hint nudge nudge.

And, yes, in the end Jon saves those worth saving and kills the rest. That's what he does. He has a confusing dream sequence along the way, in which the spirit of death (in the form of a sexy mostly naked African woman, of course) runs him through the kind of breakthroughs that usually costs a few thousand dollars and takes several years in therapy.

I find it difficult to take Jon Sable Freelance seriously; if he were anything like real, he would have been dead a hundred times by now. Luckily for those who enjoy reading his exploits, he is nothing like real. Grell tells a good adventure story in the standard style, and draws it equally well -- especially the many, many naked women who stalk and lounge around these pages.

[1] The cover at right is completely different from the book in front of me -- it even has different styles for the "Jon Sable Freelance" and "Ashes of Eden" logos. But the one shown here is the book you could find if you looked for it, and it's the one that exists online, so it's the picture you get.

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