I am basing this entire post - and this is lame - on just flipping casually through Silver Sable #27. If you're looking for a nuanced, well-balanced essay on the plot and themes and artistic/literary merit of this comic - well, what are you doing on my blog in the first place?
For those unfamiliar with this most Nineties of Marvel titles, Silver Sable & The Wild Pack was a colorful Boob War meets Dirty Dozen comic about a rough team of super-mercenaries and their leader, a monochromatic aristocratic sextastic ass-kicker with a huge mane of white hair named Silver Sable.
Sable was originally a supporting character and occasional adversary of Spider-Man who graduated to her own title in the mid-Nineties and has since faded once again into the crowded background of the Marvel Universe. In five years Silver Sable will be retro enough to be cool again, just like Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel.
In this particular issue, Man-Eater, one of Silver Sable's crew has gone ape shit (or in this case, tiger shit) and the Wild Pack has to track the were-tiger down before he scratches up somebody's sofa real bad.
I don't know a lot about Man-Eater or why he goes crazy in this issue. Hormones? Pon farr? The only thing I do know about him is that his code name "Man-Eater" has nothing to do with the fact that he's a giant tiger-man. "Man-Eater" was actually a prison name that he picked up during a five year stint in San Quentin. Hey, don't judge. You gotta do what you gotta do to survive in prison.
Anyway, Man-Eater goes crazy and pulls an American Werewolf, rampaging all over town. He interrupts a couple's romantic picnic(above). Woah, what is that gal saying? That's just naughty.
Fortunately, Man-Eater doesn't eat the pre-coital picnickers, but he does attack the unemployed grunge musician who mugs them. Ever since Cobain died, those guys have had a hard time making ends meet.
One of the weird things about the book is how Man-Eater says the word "roar" a lot. Take a look.
Help me out here. If a word is in a word balloon, that means the speaker is actually saying the word. Am I right? If it's a sound effect, the sound text appears in the panel as a graphic, not inside a word balloon. Follow me? So if a word (like "roar") appears as a graphic inside a word balloon, does that mean the speaker is actually saying the word depicted, or making the sound described?
So, is Man-Eater saying the word "roar" or is he making a roar-sounding noise? The problem lies with the fact that roar is both a noun and an onomatopoeia. It would be easier if Man-Eater were a giant poodle man. Then he would either be saying "bark" or making a bark-like sound, i.e., "woof," and it'd be easy to tell what effect the creators are going for.
Take a look at this panel of Tiger-Man vs Pearl Jam:
Here, Man-Eater's "roar" doesn't have any punctuation and is misspelled, so I'm led to believe that he is making a noise that sounds like a roar rather than shouting the word "roar."
In the next panel, Man-Eater's "roar" has an exclamation point but it's still misspelled. Does this mean he's making a noise or saying a word? The answer is clearly yes.
My confusion aside, it's pretty easy to follow the storyline in Silver Sable #27, even if you're not actually reading it like me. Sable and the Wild Pack eventually track Man-Eater down and taser the living bejeesus out of him while he yells "Roar!" or makes a roar-like noise, take your pick.
I like the cover for this comic, but as for the book itself? It's got a little too much Man-Eater and not enough Boob War for my tastes. I mean, if I pick up a Silver Sable book I want to see a little chrome-colored ass, not page after page of Man-Eater getting his roar on. Let's sex up the joint a little.
Although perhaps I should be careful what I wish for, as the ultimate cause of Man-Eater's frenzy is revealed...
Man, I know there are entire sub-cultures of people who get off on that sort of thing, but that panel planted some unwelcome mental imagery in my head.
Thanks a lot, Marvel. I'll never be able to look at a tiger again without feeling dirty.