BIOGRAPHY - Page 1
Ruth bat-Seraph was born near Jerusalem in Israel. Only portions of her personal history and career are known prior to her public debut. Ruthie's father was in the Israeli Air Force and she grew up living with her brother and her parents. When her mutant abilities developed at adolescence, Ruth's family was brought to a special living community to monitor her powers' development and train her in their use on behalf of the state. Upon reaching the age of service, she was given exotic technology to wield in the field as the first (and thus far only) known Israeli Super-Agent. As Sabra, she served the Mossad as a secret agent and acted openly as a super-hero around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. However, the government kept her identity secret for a time, maintaining a separate career for Ruth bat-Seraph as a policewoman. This subterfuge was eventually dropped, and Ruth bat-Seraph became publicly known as Sabra.
Sabra was a loyal daughter of Israel and dedicated to her country's ideals. Her faith was tested several times during her career, though. After discovering her powers could be shared with another person, Ruth's idealism led her to use this aspect of her abilities to rescue a junkie she found dying in an alleyway. The power transfer not only saved the woman's life but gave her half of Sabra's powers, leading her to take the codename Windstorm. Although she initially trained with Sabra's military contacts as the next Super-Agent, Windstorm became disillusioned with the Israeli government and went rogue. Windstorm abandoned Sabra, joining a terrorist organization known as Israelis for Anarchy and disappeared. [Marvel Super-Heroes (2nd series) #6]
On one mission, Sabra confronted the power of Hydra in Tel Aviv. She defeated the overt threat, a massive killer robot, but Hydra struck her from behind with a gene inhibitor that cancelled her mutant powers temporarily. She was captured, but managed to reassert some of her power by force of will alone to escape her bonds. The Israeli military came to her rescue, but Ruth's father was flying one of the helicopters and was shot down right in front of her during the operation. [Astonishing Tales (2nd series) #6] Ruth also lost her son at an early age. Jacob (father unknown) was only six when his school bus was reportedly destroyed by a PLO bombing. This gave Sabra a personal stake in her country's continuing conflicts with Palestine and the Arab nations of the Middle East. [New Warriors (1st series) #58] However, it is also implied that her son’s death opened Sabra’s eyes to a greater need for justice beyond merely serving the state. At one point, she was approached by Charles Xavier and agreed to work with his Mutant Underground. Sabra believed the greater good of her nation and of mutantkind could be served at the same time. [X-Men (2nd series) #67]
Sabra was among the world's heroes briefly observed by the Silver Surfer as he searched for the Hulk. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #250] Weeks later, Sabra had her own encounter with the jade giant when Bruce Banner arrived in Tel Aviv harbor as a stowaway on a cargo ship. Jostled awake during the unloading, Banner changed into the Hulk and rampaged on the docks. Ruth was in her civilian guise as a policewoman and was knocked unconscious by debris before she could change to Sabra and confront the Hulk herself. By the time she recovered, the Hulk had dismantled the armed forces opposing him and changed back into Bruce Banner, making him harder to find.
Banner met an Arabic boy named Sahad living on the streets as a thief, who shared his bread with the destitute scientist. When Palestinian radicals blew up a restaurant, the boy was killed in the blast and Banner was enraged into becoming the Hulk once more. Sabra flew to the scene and misjudged the Hulk as being in league with the radicals. Leading with her energy quills, Sabra managed to weaken the Hulk enough to take him on. However, the Hulk saw Sahad's body again, and his rage purged his system of the quills' effects. After swatting Sabra aside, Hulk took Sahad out into the desert. Sabra pursued the Hulk and confronted him again as he tried to mourn the child privately. She accused him of complicity in the terrorist attack and the boy's death, leading the sobbing Hulk to turn on her. In his own way, the simple-minded Hulk humbled Sabra by rejecting generations of war over land as being more important than the life of a single child. The distraught Hulk leaped away, and Sabra was left, emotionally spent, to mark the passing of another innocent boy in her homeland. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #256]
Sabra was called forth by the Grandmaster and Mistress Death, along with all of Earth's heroes, to participate in a contest as their pawns. She found herself chosen to fight for Death alongside Iron Man and the Arabian Knight against the Grandmaster’s team of She-Hulk, Captain Britain and Defensor. The Arab and the Israeli were not comfortable allies, and their trio chose to search for the contest’s prize separately rather than work as a unit. Sabra grappled with the cousin of her former sparring partner, and begrudgingly received aid from the Arabian Knight when She-Hulk knocked her out of the air. As Sabra disarmed her new opponent, Captain Britain, her teammates ended up securing the prize. [Marvel Super-Hero Contest of Champions #1-3]
In time, the mind of Bruce Banner was able to gain dominance over the Hulk, allowing him to control his transformations and his alter ego. After being evaluated, the Hulk was given a Presidential pardon for past crimes in the United States. A ceremony was held in his honor, and many heroes from other nations around the globe also attended to commemorate the occasion. Sabra spoke on behalf of Israel, blessing the Hulk for the simple lesson in humanity he once taught her. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #279] However, merely a month later, the Hulk’s reform failed and he reverted to a mindless, rampaging brute. Sabra’s superiors chastised her for speaking out in his defense, seeing it as a black mark in Israel’s reputation. Sabra felt personally humiliated for her part in the fiasco, and held a grudge against the Hulk for years to come.
Time passed and the Hulk became intelligent again, working with the underground organization known as the Pantheon. Their psychic, Delphi, foresaw the rise of a new fascist power to rival Hitler led by Max Meer, currently a child of the Ambassador to Israel from the Republic of Draburg. Achilles, a Pantheon operative and survivor of Dachau, resolved to act and kill Max before he came of age. After Achilles’ first attack failed in Tel Aviv, the Israeli government assigned Sabra to watch over Max in her civilian guise as a policewoman. Agamemnon, leader of the Pantheon, sent the Hulk after Achilles, to resolve the situation as he saw fit.
As Max and an Israeli friend wandered the city, they were found by Achilles, who in turn was found by the Hulk. Sabra spotted the Hulk and lashed out, believing him to be the biggest threat to her mission. Her paralyzing quills struck Dr. Banner square in the throat, leaving him unable to convey to Sabra how the Hulk was rational and could be reasoned with again. Nursing her personal grudge, Sabra was in no mood to listen to reason anyway. Hulk only got through to her about the details of his mission after the quills wore off. Achilles had been stalled thanks to Max Meer’s psychic powers of persuasion, sending a mob of attackers at the Pantheon agent. Hulk and Sabra finally cornered Achilles, but Max ended up running into the path of the same mob he started, and was trampled into a coma. The question of what any of the parties would truly have done to stop another Holocaust went unanswered, for the moment. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #386-387]
Windstorm and the Israelis for Anarchy resurfaced, with Sabra’s former comrade now in charge of the radicals. They kidnapped the deaf son of an American ambassador to Israel, hoping to stir up international tensions with his execution and overthrow the government. Sabra assumed command of the rescue operation, personally dispatching the terrorists one-by-one until only Windstorm was left. Windstorm mocked Sabra’s ideals and nationalism for expecting her to be a loyal daughter of the Israeli government like Sabra merely because she saved her life. To make her point, Windstorm collapsed a wall on the child, leaving him mortally wounded. Having no other choice, Sabra retook the power she once gave to Windstorm and transferred it into the boy, giving him the strength necessary to survive his injuries. [Marvel Super-Heroes (2nd series) #6]
[Note: This is the only example of Sabra’s power-sharing ability, and leaves some questions unanswered. It is unknown if Windstorm’s air manipulation powers are something Sabra herself possesses when fully powered, or if this was a separate latent ability in Windstorm catalyzed by the power transfer. Also, Windstorm seemed to claim Sabra’s quills were a mutant ability, when in fact they are technological in nature.]
The United Nations served as host for Middle East peace talks including Israel’s Prime Minister and representatives from Syria and the United States. Sabra joined the Prime Minister’s security detail, working alongside the New Warriors from America and (far more reluctantly) Batal, a Syrian Super-Agent. Tempers were high after an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister by high-tech assassins who wore the same national colors as Batal. Sabra was quick to generalize, lumping all Arabs into the same category after her country’s constant struggles and the personal loss of her son. She only softened in the presence of Vance Astrovik, the Jewish leader of the New Warriors named Justice, whose eyes reminded her of her lost child.
Unbeknownst to anyone, the terrorists who were intent on disrupting the peace conference had already smuggled a weapon into the proceedings: Sabra. Captured, drugged and subjected to invasive surgery days earlier, Sabra unwittingly contained an implant that triggered an irrational hatred for the peace initiative at a key moment, sending her into a rampage. She struck down and possibly killed Batal, leaving the New Warriors to pursue her in protection of the Prime Minister. Several Warriors were disabled, leaving only Justice and Sabra to continue fighting. Vance finally broke through to Sabra by reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish as they grappled, reminding her of her son and severing the conditioning. Sabra was taken into custody until the implant could be removed. [New Warriors (1st series) #58-59] Ruth was attracted to Justice’s perseverance and tried to pursue him for a few weeks, but Vance was committed to his girlfriend Firestar and Sabra let the matter quietly drop. [New Warriors (1st series) #66]