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  1. #31
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    (continued from review of Sgt. Fury #4 on previous page...)

    Wow. The Howlers just fly a lone bomber directly into Berlin, deploy 20 miles outside of the city limits, and fight their way in. Good thing Junior dies at the end, because this all seems so unbelievable otherwise.

    Little moments like the one in which a German circus performer is all set as their contact in Berlin make me more intrigued with the spies who lay all the resources out for the commandos than with the commandos themselves. How in the world do you establish and conduct communications with a sympathetic German residing WITHIN Berlin? Has there ever been a comic series that focused on the spy networks that did this kind of work during WWII?

    We get all too many panels of the escaped lion (uninteresting) yet never see those German trucks fall into Junior's trap by rolling into the mud while pursuing the Howlers in a high speed chase. This was kind of a big moment not to depict.

    Page 14, panel 1:

    Reb: Some way for a Howler to die...fallin' onto a li'l ol' circus floor, eh, Junior?

    Junior: It looks like fun, Reb. I'd like to try it, myself!


    ...Foreshadowing?


    Nick's decision to preserve the memory/dignity of Pam's brother is especially impressive/shocking considering that his disgraceful actions indirectly caused Junior's death.

    A quick review of the talents the Howlers bring to the fight: Izzy is a mechanic wiz, Dino has acting/impersonating abilities, and Dum-Dum has expertise with explosives, adding up to one crack team of specialists. So what are Gabe and Reb's specialties? Surely, playing a trumpet and cracking one-liners aren't on the same level of usefulness to the outfit.


    The plot synopsis in one sentence: Nick meets Pamela Hawley during an air raid on London, The Howlers are ordered to sneak into Berlin and capture Lord Ha-Ha, a British citizen (and Pamela's brother) being used as a propaganda mouthpiece by the Nazis, they do so, it turns out that Ha-Ha is a traitor, he attempts to alert the Nazis to the Howlers' whereabouts, they mistakenly kill him, Junior dies in the final showdown, and Nick returns to Pamela, telling her that her brother died as a hero instead of hurting her with the truth.


    Good issue overall, but this modern-age reader expected a major character's death to be treated as a bigger spectacle than it was. I understand why it was appropriate to do the opposite, but I still feel a bit cheated.

    Beyond that, I can't say the characterization or action were particularly impressive this issue, but I certainly didn't find them disappointing either.
    Last edited by shaxper; 12-21-2011 at 10:27 PM.

  2. #32
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prince hal View Post
    Lord Haw-Haw was a name given to several Axis propagandists, but was most identified with an American-born Fascist sympathizer named William Joyce, who, like Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, broadcast Axis propaganda.

    He was hanged for treason after the war, probably on a technicality.

    His broadcasts were used as the basis for one of the Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, Voice of Terror.
    Thanks for the info!

  3. #33
    Senior Member foxley's Avatar
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    Was Junior the ony regular Howler to die?

    I've always been under the impression that casual death was a common event in the Easy Company stories, but that the Howlers were pretty much invulnerable. (Of course, I could be wrong in this impression I have read very few Howling Commando stories.)

  4. #34
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foxley View Post
    Was Junior the ony regular Howler to die?
    Yes.

    The Howlers' short-lived (19 issues) Pacific Theatre counterparts, Capt. Savage's Leatherneck/Battlefield Raiders, also lost one regular member.
    I tend to split superhero comics fans into "People who like Krypto" and "People who don't like Krypto."
    Basically, if you miss the wonder of a dog flying around in a little Superman cape, you're in the wrong hobby.

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  5. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by dan bailey View Post
    Yes.

    The Howlers' short-lived (19 issues) Pacific Theatre counterparts, Capt. Savage's Leatherneck/Battlefield Raiders, also lost one regular member.

    I've written about this in other threads before, but this is a case where I think Stan out-innovated himself. In his attempt to come up with the most forward-thinking ideas, in Sgt. Fury Annual #1 (1965) he printed a story showing the Howlers fighting in the Korean War. This had the unfortunate side effect of basically removing a lot of the dramatic tension from the series because it meant that all of the Howlers who appeared in that story would survive World War II. This was even brought up by fans in the lettercolumn at the time.

    Later writers, particularly Gary Friedrich, did their best to restore some drama by having Howlers get knocked out for long periods with battle injuries or by becoming POWs. This also allowed the writers to bring in a series of replacement members to fill in for the missing Howlers and some of these repple depple commandos did die or get maimed while part of the team. Technically, then, there were other members of the team that died later on, they just weren't from this core group, as they all got lifetime passes thanks to Annual #1. Unsurprisingly as well, these issues are often among the best, as the writers can really dig into the cost of war in a way made more difficult by the accidental continuity restrictions Stan placed on the title.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  6. #36
    what happens next? tolworthy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    he printed a story showing the Howlers fighting in the Korean War. This had the unfortunate side effect of basically removing a lot of the dramatic tension from the series because it meant that all of the Howlers who appeared in that story would survive World War II.
    This could have been solved with some creative thinking. Have a scene where Fury think back to a fallen colleague without mentioning him by name. Mention that, Hauptmann like, he happened to have a twin brother. The brother was so proud of his deceased sibling that he asked to be known by the same name. Mention that he sometimes filled in for his brother in earlier missions so the Nazis would never realize that the other guy was doing some heroic spy mission.That allows Nick to talk to each his team about "old times" without it being fake. Now that he's gone, careless talk cost lives, and if the Nazis knew they had killed one of the original team it might give them hope, so the Howlers never mention it. Plus they are so proud of the new guy, he's proved himself, and the greatest compliment they can pay him is to treat him like his brother.

    It could work...

  7. #37
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foxley View Post
    Was Junior the ony regular Howler to die?
    Yes. However, he was not the only regular character to die. I won't spoil anything beyond saying that the other death happens in #18.

  8. #38
    Bieber My Balls Tiamatican's Avatar
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    I've read most of the Sgt. Fury run - got to the point where it's mixing new issues with reprints. Most of the time I just found it hilarious. Seeing seven guys standing around getting shot at without a single wound, then wading in to fisticuffs - just so silly.

    Once in a while, a story would hit me. Issue 18, as mentioned, was pretty strong.

  9. #39
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Well it only took me a few months to find a free hour for this, but we're back...

    Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #5

    "At the Mercy of Baron Strucker"
    writer: Stan Lee
    pencils: Jack Kirby
    inks: G. Bell
    letters: S. Rosen
    colors: ?

    Grade: B+

    In the wake of Junior's death, one would expect this title to shift into a darker tone, full of mourning/survivor's guilt and a genuine fear that any character in this title is expendable. Instead, it takes a surprising turn toward comic relief. While the title has always contained some comedic elements in it, this issue contains bigger, sillier gags on nearly every page.

    It begins with Fury running the Howlers ragged with extra training in response to losing Junior. While Lee takes pains to show that Fury is grieving as if he'd lost a son (and, it's even suggested, he's never lost a soldier prior to this), the scene is kept lighthearted with taunts from the Howlers about Nick's unfair treatment. Possibly my favorite portion of this section was Reb responding to Izzy driving a tank at him (under orders from Fury) by hurling a live grenade at him. It's so over the top psychotic. I think Reb just became my favorite Howler.

    Sure enough, the story actually gets sillier, as it then transitions into DumDum and Izzy doing laundry and screaming bloody murder when Baron Strucker's bomber plane shoots up Izzy's favorite long johns and then launches a canister directly at Izzy. It's the first and only straight up comedic panel I've ever seen Kirby draw as the canister ricochets off of a stunned Izzy's head.

    We then soon transition into an even more ridiculous scene as Nick is on a date with Pam Hawley (apparently, things have progressed since the last issue) and she keeps pushing him to practice table manners and behave like a gentleman, even as another soldier mocks him. It's the stuff of Sunday funnies and is positively delightful here.

    There are some semi-serious moments in the issue, as well. Certainly both battles between Fury and Strucker were exciting -- especially the sheer mismatch of well-honed skill (Strucker) and completely unfocused brute rage (Fury). Watching Fury get his revenge against Strucker at the end felt great on an almost physical level -- true catharsis.

    There's also the odd bit about Happy Sam in this issue. When he demotes Fury, he thinks to himself:

    "I never thought I'd be talking this way to you, Nick! Not the man who...who...sniff..."

    I wonder if and when we'll find out what that's about. Later on in the story, when Happy Sam comes to regret his decision, it's played for comedy and as if Sam simply made a bad call -- not the result of some intense inner conflict, as was suggested in the quote above.

    This is the first appearance of Baron Von Strucker, though it's difficult to tell that he'll amount to anything from this first appearance. He's an expert weapons master who cheats to win and proves no match to Fury in a fair fight. He certainly didn't seem like important enough a character in this issue to warrant a return, let alone to become an established villain in the Marvel Universe.

    Kirby's art is all over the place in this issue. Strucker's face never looks the same twice, Izzy looks exactly like Fury all throughout page 7, and I had to re-read page 4 several times to figure out whether Reb or Fury fired that grenade, or if they both did. At the same time, he does pull off that one comedic panel I mentioned earlier, and I really enjoyed his depiction of the rage building within Fury across three panels on page 9. Over-all, though, I wasn't that impressed with his work in this issue.

    The minor details:

    - Lee and Kirby both give their former U.S. Army ranks in the credits. I knew Kirby was a veteran, but I didn't know about Lee. Hard to believe he was a sergeant!

    - Hitler is personally aware of Nick Fury's reputation? Somehow, I find that hard to believe.

    - If Baron Strucker can just fly right up to the Howlers' encampment and start firing, why can't the entire German airforce?

    - According to Happy Sam, Fury has turned down various battlefield commissions and chosen to remain a sergeant.

    - The Germans were certainly masters of propaganda, but did they ever actually try anything like this? It seems to me that, in presenting one of America's greatest heroes and then showing his defeat, they first have to acknowledge that America has great heroes. I would think keeping the enemy faceless/anonymous/without identity would be the better propaganda move.

    - Seriously, what are the chances Strucker was going to be there when the Howlers raided that rocketbase at the end? They weren't looking for Strucker and had no reason to believe he would be there.

    - I'm not sure what to think about the fact that Fury couldn't figure out Strucker was poisoning him with the wine before both duals. It makes him a more adorable brute, but I also can't believe that such a competent war hero could be that...stupid.

    - Still not clear on what specialties Gabe and Reb bring to the Howlers. Reb loves grenades, but DumDum is the explosives expert.

    - In past issues, Izzy had generally been the Howler we'd seen and heard the least. In this issue, he gets more lines and panels than any other Howler (aside from Nick).

    - In the end, when the Howlers pull the stripes off of another sergeant so that Happy Sam can reinstate Fury, I wonder if Lee isn't bringing a tad of personal experience to this, having been a sergeant, himself. Clearly, he's showing that superior soldiers don't respect that rank unless they respect the person behind the stripes. I'd actually consider it a startlingly offensive and treasonous move if it weren't the Howlers pulling it off.


    The plot synopsis in one sentence: Nick is upset about having lost Junior, Hitler orders Baron Strucker to personally take on Nick Fury and humiliate him, Happy Sam orders Nick not to answer the challenge, Nick defies him and loses when Strucker cheats, the defeat becomes the subject of Nazi propaganda, Nick is delivered back in disgrace and Sam demotes him to a corporal, the Howlers go on a mission to take out a rocket base, Strucker is there, Nick gets his revenge in a fair fight, and Sam is pressured from higher-ups to reinstate Nick as a sergeant.


    A surprisingly silly/fun story, but I enjoyed it. I wonder if this tone will continue throughout the run, or if it's just a bit of relief after Junior's death last issue.
    Last edited by shaxper; 12-20-2011 at 07:22 PM.

  10. #40
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    It's the first and only straight up comedic panel I've ever seen Kirby draw as the canister ricochets off of a stunned Izzy's head.
    Somebody needs some Not Brand Echh in his life ...

    (And great humor panels weren't particularly uncommon in the Lee-Kirby FF as well, were they, especially featuring Ben?)
    I tend to split superhero comics fans into "People who like Krypto" and "People who don't like Krypto."
    Basically, if you miss the wonder of a dog flying around in a little Superman cape, you're in the wrong hobby.

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  11. #41
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan bailey View Post
    Somebody needs some Not Brand Echh in his life ...

    (And great humor panels weren't particularly uncommon in the Lee-Kirby FF as well, were they, especially featuring Ben?)
    Most of my familiarity with Kirby comes from his work for DC in the 70s. I'm not much of a Marvel guy outside of a few areas of specific interest (this, Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, X-Men).

  12. #42
    Senior Member foxley's Avatar
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    Little moments like the one in which a German circus performer is all set as their contact in Berlin make me more intrigued with the spies who lay all the resources out for the commandos than with the commandos themselves. How in the world do you establish and conduct communications with a sympathetic German residing WITHIN Berlin? Has there ever been a comic series that focused on the spy networks that did this kind of work during WWII?
    Possibly the O.S.S. series from G.I. Combat.

  13. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by foxley View Post
    Possibly the O.S.S. series from G.I. Combat.

    Mme. Marie in Star-Spangled War Stories might qualify, though I haven't yet had the chance to read them myself.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  14. #44
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Most of my familiarity with Kirby comes from his work for DC in the 70s.
    The horror ... the horror ...

    With all due respect to my friends here who think '70s Kirby was the bee's knees, that's sort of like knowing Paul McCartney only by his work with Wings. Except way worse than that.
    I tend to split superhero comics fans into "People who like Krypto" and "People who don't like Krypto."
    Basically, if you miss the wonder of a dog flying around in a little Superman cape, you're in the wrong hobby.

    -- Reptisaurus!

  15. #45
    Senior Member MDG's Avatar
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    Did I just hear Dan's head explode?
    "It's just lines on paper, folks!"

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