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Not even Spider-Man and raised breasts can save this “solo” debut – Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #1

February 17, 2013

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Silver Sable, like Doctor Doom the ruler of a tiny fictional European nation (they’re neighbors), the lady whose tresses divorce the blonde from platinum, who, instead of lounging in her wealth and power like most of us would, runs a private Seal Team 6, had her own book for a while.

What’s that? You don’t remember it? How could you not?

Well, she did. Not that there was any overwhelming demand for a Silver Sable series, mind you. These were the boom years, though, when Marvel and DC and upstart publishers couldn’t churn out enough material, no matter how derivative or vanilla it might be. And, in that spirit, enter Miss Sable.

Her series was no diamond in the rough, and the debut issue says it all. Everything about this book screams GLUT. From the thick card stock cover, with its raised metallic image of our racky, hippy heroine (to answer the question of the hormone-addled boy in us all: yes, the breasts are molded and raised too), to the uninspired material inside, what you’re looking at is an embodiment of an industry gone mad, drunk with its boom and throwing off product as fast as it can be printed. (And what exactly would you call a cover like this? It’s not just foil enhanced — or is that chromium? And what was chromium, anyway? THIS IS WHY THE INDUSTRY ALMOST DIED.)

I put “solo” in quotes in the post title because Silver Sable is far from solo in what is, Wild Pack aside, her Mary Tyler Moore “How will you make it on your own?” moment. Spider-Man and the besweatered Sandman are both along for the ride, the former filling his usual contractually obligated duties to nursemaid any number of debuting or floundering titles. Before he shows up, though, we get the Symkaria series set-up, with Sable training the Wild Pack in an insufferable combat version of capture the flag, and then a meeting with Uncle Morty and a rubdown:

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Yes, kids love it when a woman is massaged by a spinster’s thick, meaty forearms as Mr. Peepers briefs her with Ozymandias’ bank of television screens. Children will fork over their allowance money month after month for such thrills!

You want mandatory regurgitation of her senses-shattering origin? Here you go:

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Sable jets off alone to rescue a girls’ school held hostage by HYDRA — one that Peter Parker is (conveniently) covering for the Bugle — and Flint Marko (in one of his several face turns over the years) convinces the rest of the pack that, despite their boss’ orders to stay away, they should go help her out. HYDRA pummeling ensues, and the student body, which has Sable’s niece among its numbers, is saved. How does it end? With Silver Sable displaying the sort of classy leadership that will get readers coming back month after month:

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Our heroine, ladies and gentlemen. Who wouldn’t want to get to know her better? (And do you think Marko turned to Spider-Man off-panel, shrugged his shoulders and said “Dames, huh? Oh, and sorry about all that Sinister Six stuff. Water under the bridge, right?”?)

The comic reads like an awful pilot for an action-centric TV show, with some bimbo in the lead and a name actor roped in, one who turns in a performance that screams IN IT FOR THE MONEY, FOLKS with every gesture, i.e. the kind of masterpiece that used to be burned off as a TV movie during summer reruns. I hold scripter Gregory Wright and artists Steven Butler and Jim Sanders III utterly blameless in all of this. They got an assignment and they did their best — much like the commando teams upon which the Wild Pack was based. But this was a mission with a slim chance of success, and while the Silver Sable premise surely has potential (SPY FIGHTER RULER BABE), it wasn’t potential that was going to be exploited successfully in the early 1990s publishing climate. This was the age of quantity over quality, and this was simply a part of the quantity bombardment.

Yet Silver Sable and the Wild Pack lasted for a whopping 35 issues, which is about 34 more than I’d think a sensible market could sustain. Maybe there was some excellent storytelling on the way, but most would be forgiven for skepticism on that count. If this cliche-riddled opening salvo can be taken as an indicator, they couldn’t have been scintillating reads, tight, shiny, lycra-wrapped bods aside.

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