Dominic Fortune and Silver Sable
Silver Sable created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz
Dominic Fortune created by Howard Chaykin
New series scripted by Brendan Cahill

Poor Marvel.

Try as they might, they can't seem to lose the spandex.

Whereas eternal rivals Detective Comics (DC) seem to have the sleuthing gene right in their corporate DNA, Marvel has always struggled to come up with a credible crime or detective comic. Like, take Dakota North. please.

And ladies and gentlemen, the much-ballyhooed Sable and Fortune mini-series ain't it.

Okay, I admit I was suckered into it -- the very first issue of this six-part series (soon whittled down to four issues) boasted the heroes' credentials right on the cover.

"SILVER SABLE: The World's Most Deadly Mercenary" it said, and right beside it -- and this is what hooked me -- "DOMINIC FORTUNE: Fast-Talking P.I."

"How bad could it be?" I figured, and plunked down my dough.

The answer, it turned out, was "pretty bad."

I should have paid more attention to the cover artwork, I guess. Dominic, the alleged P.I. half of the team, was decked out in some cheesy uniform straight out of Sky King and the World of Tomorrow and Silver Sable looked even goofier, decked out in what looked like a silver leather jump suit and sporting an Elizabeth Taylor fright wig.

Sable made her debut in Spider-Man #265, the creation of Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. She was introduced as the head honcho of a mercenary outfit called The Wild Pack, and proved popular enough to become a recurring figure in the Marvel Universe, eventually even scoring her own series, Silver Sable and the Wild Pack, which ran from 1992-95.

Fortune, meanwhile, first saw light of day in Marvel Preview #2 way back in 1975, the creation of comics legend Howard Chaykin. He was a sort of 1930s daredevil adventurer, and appeared in assorted Marvel anthologies and magazines. Several years later, he re-appeared, very much older, and became involved with Spider-Man in a story arc that eventually cost him his son, who had also for a while "taken on the mantle" of Dominic Fortune. According to Marvel editor John Barber in the intro to the new series (scripted by Brendan Cahill), "Where Dominic has been since then -- and what relationship, if any, the man... has to him -- remains to be revealed.

Alas, the series turned out to be a mess of coulda-beens. The promised "Moonlighting-style" relationship between the two principals never materialized, Fortune was more bland and smarmy than glib, and Silver was just not all that likable -- no wonder her own guys tried to kill her. Instead of Moonlighting or even Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we were treated to some overboiled globetrotting nonsense about the Silver Sable losing control of The Wild Pack and teaming up with Fortune to stop six "sleeper" assassins before they reach their targets and save the world (naturally).

It's mostly an excuse for firing a lot of over-sized guns and high-flying hokum, such as Sable diving out of a fifty story window in pursuit of a laptop.And you have to wonder about Fortune: what kinda private eye wears a bright orange leather "uniform"?

Such over-the-top shenanigans erased any sense of credibility the series might have had, although at least art-wise it looked good for three of its four issues, which were painted (yes, painted) by John Burns, even if Silver on more than one occasion looked more than a little frumpy, more Butterfield 8 than Goldfinger. In the last issue, unfortunately, the Art Deco-ish artwork (by newcomer Laureen McCubbin) was so radically different in style (and just plain wrong for an action comic) as to look just plain amateurish. That it looks like Marvel gave her about an afternoon to do the whole issue didn't help...

Still, as far as the story went, Cahill did manage to wrap up the truncated series in a satisfying, if slightly rushed fashion in the last issue. Less superhero histronics and more attention to the characters, and a clearer artistic vision might have helped. Or pull out the stops and just make 'em superheroes.



Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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