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Sabra from All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #9. Art by Mike Perkins.
|First appearance||(cameo) Incredible Hulk #250 (August 1980)
(full) Incredible Hulk #256 (February 1981)
|Created by||Bill Mantlo (writer)
Sal Buscema (artist)
|Alter ego||Ruth Bat-Seraph|
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, durability, and the ability to heal
Anti-gravity devices with the ability to fly
Wrist gauntlets that fire plasma bursts and paralyzing quills
Sabra made a cameo appearance in Incredible Hulk #250 (August 1980), but first fully appeared in Incredible Hulk #256 (February 1981). She was created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. Belinda Glass came up with the name and concept of the character. "Sabra" means both a native of Israel and a kind of prickly pear.
Fictional character biography
Ruth Bat-Seraph was born near Jerusalem, Israel. She was raised on a special kibbutz run by the Israeli government after her power manifested. Ruth was the first superhuman agent created to serve the Mossad (the Israeli secret service). She became a police officer in addition to serving as a government agent. Her first public act as Sabra was a battle with the Hulk, whom she mistakenly believed was working with Arab terrorists operating in Israel. Not long after that, Sabra was chosen as a pawn of Death in the latter's game against the Grandmaster. There, she met Iron Man and the Arabian Knight, and battled She-Hulk and Captain Britain. She later appeared at the Hulk's amnesty ceremony in Washington, D.C. Some years later, Sabra's young son was killed in a terrorist attack. She disobeyed orders in order to bring her son's killers to justice.[volume & issue needed]
Another dispute with the Hulk was intensified as Sabra's powers temporarily robbed him of his voice, making it seem as if he was still a near-mindless monster. She fought the Hulk, but the two worked through their differences and attempted to search for a child who was foretold to become a genocidal maniac, while contending with Achilles of the Pantheon, who was sent to kill the boy.
Later, during a peace process meeting, Sabra finds herself fighting the New Warriors while under the mental influence of a mysterious, unexplained force.[volume & issue needed] Some time after, Sabra finds herself caught up in the events of the anti-mutant campaign known as "Operation: Zero Tolerance". It is at this time that Sabra fights alongside the X-Men and begins to subscribe to the philosophies of Charles Xavier.[volume & issue needed] Sabra spends some time as a member of the X-Corporation's Paris branch.[volume & issue needed] She accompanies Xavier and other X-Men to Genosha after it was demolished by Sentinels.
Sabra is one of a handful of mutants to have retained their powers after the effects of M-Day. She is later seen, under request from the British government, aiding Union Jack against a terrorist attack on London. She comes into conflict with the new Arabian Knight because of cultural differences, but they begrudgingly work together, paralleling her relationship with the first Arabian Knight during the Contest of Champions.[volume & issue needed]
It is later revealed that Sabra has formed a policing force against unruly mutants. This team is fronted by Bishop with additional teammate Micromax (formerly of Excalibur). Sabra is identified as pro-registration in the superhuman Civil War as one of the 142 registered superheroes under the Initiative. During the events of Secret Invasion, Sabra is briefly seen fighting off Skrulls in Israel.
During the Ends of the Earth storyline, Sabra is one of the heroes that respond to Spider-Man's call for help against Doctor Octopus' satellite factories. She is shown fighting through Octobots at a seemingly abandoned factory until being shot by Crossbones with a sniper rifle. However, the author stated that shot was a glancing blow that Sabra has survived.
Powers and abilities
Sabra's mutant power has enhanced all of her body's physical abilities, such as strength, speed, agility, reflexes, endurance, and stamina, to superhuman levels. She can withstand impacts up to high caliber rifle fire, though she has been wounded by fire from an MP-40 sub-machine gun.[volume & issue needed]
She is also able to charge other individuals by transferring to them her own life energy, in the process enhancing their physical state of health (she has twice used this ability to save dying individuals) and granting them low-level super-powers, which are apparently at random and otherwise unrelated to Sabra's own mutant powers (such as the wind-generating powers given to a woman who took the costumed identity Windstorm). The recipient retains their new powers until Sabra herself decides to withdraw them by retrieving her life energy. Her standard power levels drop when she gives away her life energy (she has been shown losing up to half her natural physical power), but they return to normal once she takes back her life energy. She still remains susceptible to gas attacks.[volume & issue needed]
Her various costumes, usually based on the design or colors of the Israeli flag, contain additional paraphernalia to enhance her combat capabilities. She wears a cape that contains a secret Israeli gravity-polarization device, which allows her to neutralize gravity's effect on her mass, and a tight array of four electric micro-turbines which impel air for sufficient thrust for inertialess mass to fly at subsonic speeds. She wears special pressure reduction valve nose-filters to allow her to breathe at high speeds and high altitudes. The cape also contains a wafer-thin computer system which processes her mental commands received by the circuitry in her tiara. The cape also has an optical navigation device which functions as an auto-pilot. Besides her cape, Sabra also has neuronic-frequency stunners built into her two wrist bracelets that shoot "energy quills", small bundles of low-density plasma (like balled lightning), that travel just below the speed of sound and paralyze the nervous system of any organic being almost instantaneously.
In addition to her superhuman abilities and equipment, Sabra possesses the standard weapons, and armed and unarmed combat training given to members of the Israeli military. She is trained in police methods and skills and in anti-terrorist techniques.
Some accounts indicated that none of Sabra's powers are mutant in origin, but instead granted through an Israeli project similar to the American supersoldier program that created Captain America, but as of the moment she is still considered a genetic mutant by the U.S. government.
House of M: Masters of Evil
In the Ultimate Marvel imprint, Sabra (under her real name) appears as a severed head on the wall of a hideout of the supervillain Doctor Faustus, along with the heads of agents from other intelligence agencies who were sent after him, but were apparently spotted and killed as well.
In other media
- Sabra appears in the 1994 Fantastic Four animated series as the Silver Surfer passes her in the air.
- In X2: X-Men United, her name was seen on a screen among a list of other mutants when Mystique hacked the system of William Stryker for information on different mutants.
- Mantlo, Bill (w), Buscema, Sal (p), Buscema, Sal (i). "Power In the Promised Land" The Incredible Hulk v2, 256 (February 1981)
- Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions #1-4 (June–August 1982)
- Incredible Hulk #279 (January 1983)
- Incredible Hulk #386-387 (October–November 1991)
- New X-Men #132 (November 2002)
- The X-Men: 198 Files (March 2006)
- Union Jack vol. 2, #1 (November 2006)
- Civil War: X-Men #1 (September 2006)
- Avengers: The Initiative #1 (June 2007)
- "Avengers: The Initiative #1 Character Map". Marvel.com.
- Secret Invasion #6 (November 2008)
- The Amazing Spider-Man: Ends of the Earth #1
- House of M: Masters of Evil #4 (January 2010)
- Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars #2 (December 2009)
- DRG4's Fantastic Four Quickies
- Sabra at the Marvel Universe wiki