Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #19
"An Eye for an Eye"
writer: Stan Lee
pencils: Dick Ayers
inks: Frank Ray
letters: S. Rosen
If the end of the previous issue and the cover and solicitation for this one left you expecting a revenge-obsessed Nick Fury on the edge, you're bound to be a little disappointed. Instead of watching the impulsive act of a desperate man, we merely watch Fury pushing the men too hard through training once again (as he did when Junior died), disobey orders to go on a secret mission of vengeance, and then get a final one-on-one battle with the German officer responsible for the bombing raid that killed Pam with far less blood-thirst and vengeance than you might expect. Nick drops his gun to duke it out with the guy, allowing the officer to pull a gun and prove he has no scruples thus further justifying any noble action Nick takes against him, and even in spite of this, his final demise is caused by gravity and poor planning -- not Nick. So I'd hardly call this "the roaring revenge of Nick Fury". Maybe it was a fear for the comics code, but I feel Nick could have taken a bigger grief-induced dive over the deep end of vengeance in this one, finally pulling back and finding the strength to be a hero at the last moment.
That said, I did like the level of concern and support the Howlers attempt to provide to Fury in this issue, as well as that final panel when Nick visits Pam's grave.
While the vengeance and grief aspects of this issue didn't live up to their potential, I did enjoy watching Nick and the Howlers have to surreptitiously work within their own organization the way they normally infiltrate German ranks. Walking into that intelligence room and having Dino work information out of a young woman there felt far more exciting than Nick's absurd climactic battle aboard a WWI bi plane.
Also worth mentioning (or is it?) That Stan arbitrarily inserts the return of Hans and his Nazi sympathizing father who is secretly Agent X in this story (from Sgt. Fury #15). It absolutely felt forced, and I never liked these characters to begin with.
Art-wise, Ayers still feels like he's actually trying in this issue, providing some truly rich, dramatic shots in the issue, though Frank Ray's inks lack the flair and embellishment that Chic Stone's did last issue, and the anonymous colorist who made such ambitious decisions in drenching certain characters in hues of red last issue begins to do it far more indiscriminately this time around, arbitrarily drenching some characters in total red for no seeming reason. Apropo of this, the letters column appears to explain why the colorist goes uncredited in these issues, implying that he/she is outsourced and not part of the Marvel staff. Here's what was said:
"Stevey, we only write and draw the stories! Then, the pages go to the engraver--then the printer! Somewhere along the way, some saboteur seems to get his hands on every ish and make a million bone-headed mistakes such as the ones you mentioned. We hate to pass the buck, but honestly, we get just as burned up about all the coloring errors as you do. But we have so many mags going thru the presses so quickly, that we're never able to fix them up in time!"
I suppose this could be referencing the coloring process only and not the work of the colorist him/herself. Any insight on this, folks?
Minor details: I believe this is the first time The Pig 'n Whistle is named. I'll have to double check.
Plot synopsis in one long sentence: Nick is pushing his crew too hard after the death of Pam Hawley, Captain Sawyers gives them a furlough to recuperate (especially Nick), Nick decides to use the time to plan a secret mission to get revenge against the man who ordered the attack that killed Pam, the Howlers want in, and they do it.
Pretty solid issue, but not as great as it should have been.