Review by Frank Plowright
Open Season isn’t your conventional Sabretooth story, which is a good thing, yet it still conforms to the formula of Sabretooth being involved in multiple murders that don’t bother him in the slightest.
Daniel Way begins with a captivating World War II anecdote told aboard a US Coast Guard boat patrolling in the Arctic. He has the courtesy to finish it before a desperate radio call from the mainland arrives. We’re shown a snarling Sabretooth as responsible for slaughter, and the Navy send a team to investigate, but what makes Open Season effective is that Sabretooth is barely seen. This is admittedly not a selling point for readers who want constant, up front savagery, but it sustains a tension that’s elevated by his motivations being unknown. Is he just on a rampage or is there something more to it?
With a group of sailors no match for Sabretooth, no matter how well trained, a superheroic intervention is necessary, and although a good match, it’s far from the obvious choice, and best kept a surprise.
Throughout his career Bart Sears has combined cinematic action pages with strangely distorted people. That still applies to Sabretooth, exaggerated for emphasis, but it could be seen as accentuating that he’s as much beast as man, so in this case the distortions are acceptable, especially as it doesn’t apply to the ordinary people. Although this is an extremely violent story, Sears keeps the actual blood off the page, showing what needs to be shown without a gratuitous gloss.
Way twists the plot well, keeping the surprises coming. He’s essentially providing an action thriller with horrific overtones, which means this lacks the sheer frenzy of Sabretooth’s earlier solo outing in Death Hunt, but it’s far more readable. Sabretooth is still a merciless killer placing no value on what he perceives as weaker life, so there’s little sympathy for him, but he has an agenda only clarified toward the end. Open Season is such a contrast to Death Hunt it’s difficult to see anyone liking both, so this is the outing for action cinema fans.