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  1. #211
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    My memory apparently was a bit off. From Wikipedia --

    A cowardly young man, Bob was persuaded into joining the criminal organization HYDRA by his wife, Allison, who accused him of not being able to hold a steady job. The thought of a stable career with a dental plan also appealed to Bob, though he was disappointed to find out HYDRA does not offer full dental like AIM.
    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!

  2. #212
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan bailey View Post
    My memory apparently was a bit off. From Wikipedia --

    A cowardly young man, Bob was persuaded into joining the criminal organization HYDRA by his wife, Allison, who accused him of not being able to hold a steady job. The thought of a stable career with a dental plan also appealed to Bob, though he was disappointed to find out HYDRA does not offer full dental like AIM.
    Wow. HYDRA really was evil...

  3. #213

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    As Tollworthy has repeatedly pointed out, this is the story that killed most of the potential the Sgt Fury series had. Whereas the unexpected deaths of first Junior and more recently Pam Hawley had shaken readers to their cores and proven that anything can happen in war, this story, set a full decade after the present day of the regular Sgt. Fury series, took away all of that dramatic uncertainty by showing all of the Howlers alive and well in the future. Not only, then, could no one die; no one new could be added to the cast either. Heck, everyone's still even wearing the same haircuts, though (thankfully) they all look slightly older (most noticeably Happy Sam).

    I have long felt the same way about this issue, but later writers did manage to get around some of this. A new, permanent member of the team was added later; I'm not sure if they ever explained why he wasn't around for the Korea conflict, but Roy Thomas apparently wasn't bothered by this continuity problem for the one and only time in his entire life.

    And Gary Friedrich in particular almost turned this into a kind of commentary on war and the elite nature of the Howlers, as he introduced multiple new members to the team who ended up washing out or getting killed or severely wounded in action.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  4. #214
    Frugal fanboy Cei-U!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    -This issue features the first appearance of "Slim" and two other unnamed SHIELD agents who assist Fury in the barbershop. While they play the roles of co-stars in this issue, I don't believe we'll ever see them again. Maybe that's the point -- every SHIELD agent is a hero worthy of having his/her own story told. Or maybe Stan or Jack just decided they didn't like them enough to keep using them.
    Actually Slim and his co-workers, Angela and Charlie (a.k.a. Harold, Joe and Sam), will appear over a dozen times, both here and in Captain America, through the Sixties and Seventies.

    Cei-U!
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    It's hardly a secret that something is badly wrong with me. - Dan B. in the Underworld
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  5. #215
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    And Gary Friedrich in particular almost turned this into a kind of commentary on war and the elite nature of the Howlers, as he introduced multiple new members to the team who ended up washing out or getting killed or severely wounded in action.
    A compelling solution to the problem that Annual #1 presents. I had no idea! Now I have something to look forward to.

  6. #216
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    Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos #22

    "Don't Turn Your Back on Bull McGiveney!"
    writer: Stan Lee
    pencils: Dick Ayers
    inks: Carl Hubbell
    letters: Artie Simek

    grade: B+

    While the title of this story really doesn't apply to anything that occurs within, it functions as a pretty good message to the reader. Up until this point, Bull McGiveney has been an obnoxious, useless, and generally tiresome supporting character in the series, but this issue pretty much blows all of that out of the water, placing Bull and Fury in combat together, and showing just how surprisingly capable, brave, and smart McGiveney can be. This was a genuine surprise to me, and I enjoyed watching the two rivals work so damn well together.

    Add to that some extra impressive panels from Ayers this issue, capturing a lot of facial expression nuances and experimenting with showing figures shrouded in shadows as the people looking at them would see them, and this is a pretty solid issue.

    Of course, there are still tons of leaps of logic required to believe that the Howlers could pull off this ridiculously impossible mission, but you come to expect that from this mag.

    Probably the one downfall of this issue is Stan's need, once again, to keep with the theme of giving the Howlers teams of antagonists. McGiveney's Maulers are promised on the cover, but (in typical Stan fashion) they get very little panel time in the book and are never given discernable names nor characteristics. And, if that wasn't enough, Strucker and his Blitzkrieg bunch are dragged into the end of this story for no apparent reason and, once more, prove to be pathetic adversaries. Why does Stan feel the need to keep throwing entirely unimpressive teams of antagonists at the Howlers that he never takes the time to develop properly?

    As a final minor detail, it's worth mentioning that Stan and Dick insert themselves into this title for the second and third times, this issue. They were briefly depicted in the Sgt. Fury Annual on the page showing the layout of Able Company HQ, discussing what to do with their leave time. In this issue, they're both in the air force (not accurate) with Stan a commanding officer (accurate) and Dick a lowly underling (accurate). They first appear with Stan musing that he's going to write about the Howlers after the war and wants Dick to do the art, and they reappear at the end of the issue as the pilots who get the Howlers back to safety.


    plot synopsis in one long sentence: The Howlers and McGiveney's Maulers are sent deep into Romania to disable the heavily fortified anti-aircraft defenses so that the allied air force can execute the raid on Ploesti, the Nazis' major oil field. Fury and Bull are captured and made to fight each other to the death, but they execute a ruse together and join with their men in time to disable the fortifications, and Stan Lee and Dick Ayers fly them back to safety.

  7. #217
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Strange Tales #137

    "The Prize is Earth!"
    writer: Stan Lee
    layouts: Jack Kirby
    art: John Severin
    lettering: Artie Simek

    grade: A


    The excitement only heats up with this issue. What begins with a single panel page of Fury's face over multiple monitors putting SHIELD on full alert from an all-out HYDRA attack on all nations of the world quickly speeds into high intensity espionage and assassination (all more fun when depicted via Kirby art), entire swarms of HYDRA troops from the land (and later the sea) moving in on their targets, and finally some bold insights into (and teasing clues regarding) The Supreme HYDRA Commander. Things move so fast that you barely have time to notice Dum-Dum and Gabe's introduction into the series in this issue, now working for SHIELD along with Fury (I assume he personally recruited them after #135). I wonder if the blonde man pictured with them is Reb.

    Regarding the identity of the Supreme Leader of HYDRA, we're given several clues. We absolutely know that he is on the board of Imperial Industries International and, in fact, has a connecting secret passage from the board room to his headquarters, but when new CEO Leslie Farrington orders Brown, his wimpish assistant, to secretly collect dossiers on every member of the board, we're left wondering whether this is because he's the Supreme Commander or because he suspects one of them is. I won't spoil the true answer here, but I will say that the revelation of the Supreme Commander's identity at the end of this story arc absolutely MADE this series for me.

    We also know the Supreme Commander was once penniless (it's implied that his wife would not have died if he'd had money/power), and that has been his motivation to amass all the wealth and power in the world. In typical Lee fashion, the concept is a rich one, but the characterization itself falls flat and cliche as he explains all of this to his daughter (who is reluctantly serving as a HYDRA agent).

    It's nice to see Stan and Jack having so much fun with the villains in this story. Certainly, inventing your own fictitious evil organization leaves a lot more room for creativity than in having them fight real world enemies like the Nazis.

    One moment in this story I really respected was the moving deaths of three agents in a (failed) attempt to smuggle a microfilm away from HYDRA. Their bravery, the sense of loss, and even the weird sense that their sacrifices weren't futile in spite of the failed effort, were moving and powerful in spite of the otherwise fun sense pervading this issue. Stan gave attention to the sacrifices of brave intermediaries who laid down their lives so that the heroes could have their day numerous times in the Sgt. Fury title, though never as tragically as here, with three outstanding agents all willingly sacrificing their lives in the line of duty AND the initiative failing anyway.

    It's worth noting the pacing of this series, thus far. Whereas most monthly comic book features feature self-contained stories (including Sgt. Fury), both this feature and Dr. Strange, it's sister Strange Tales title, are carefully unfolding a larger narrative. Whereas the previous two Agent of SHIELD installments were focused on establishing the threat of HYDRA, this issue introduces an immediate conflict and embellishes the HYDRA concept to include a mysterious central villain. Note that Fury, himself, has done next to nothing at this point, and that Dum-Dum and Gabe are first introduced here. You can be sure Stan and Jack are gearing up for a strike-back in which Fury finally goes into action, aided by some of his old Howlers, to take on HYDRA the old-fashioned way.


    There are TONS of minor logic gaps and far-fetched moments in this story, but I've come to expect that as fair game when reading this series and thus will not bother to draw attention to them so long as they don't disrupt the main plot of the story. One nagging question, though -- every time someone wants to make the HYDRA sign (twelve arms appearing to extend from one body), do four other guys have to run up behind him? There are NEVER four guys right behind the Commander when he does this. In fact, on page 11, the only two guys behind him are carrying torches. Do they just go, "Oh geez! He's making the sign again! Drop those torches! Floyd, Dave, get your butts over here!! Let's do this thing!"


    plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence: Fury puts SHIELD on high alert to drop everything and make HYDRA their prime target since it is about to strike (though this doesn't really make sense when you consider that it doesn't take an entire agency to stop one bomb), Fury visits Weapons Design (no longer called Section W) and is given some fun spy equipment including the memorable bullet-proof suit, a turncoat HYDRA agent attempts to smuggle some microfilm to SHIELD, this ends up costing the lives of three SHIELD agents, and HYDRA's troops end up stopping them anyway, we learn that HYDRA is going to launch a betatron bomb into space (???) so that they can dictate terms to the entire planet, Fury, Dum-Dum, and Gabe are on their way to find it in the Balkins, we meet Leslie Farrington, new CEO of Imperial Industries International, and learn that someone on the board of that company is the Supreme Leader of HYDRA, we get a backstory on the Supreme Leader (though we do not learn his identity), and the betatron bomb is launched.



    EXCITING ISSUE! And, while it has its minor flaws, it doesn't pretend to take itself so seriously that you should be concerned with such things. Rather, it's an incredibly fun and imaginative romp with some real intelligent mystery thrown into it to keep you guessing and some powerful/meaningful moments as well. In short, this is everything a 1960s Marvel comic should aspire to be.
    Last edited by shaxper; 08-22-2012 at 06:44 AM.

  8. #218
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos #23

    "The Man Who Failed!"
    writer: Stan Lee
    Pencils: Dick Ayers
    inks: Frank Ray
    letters: Artie Simek

    grade: C+

    It's inevitable. The better the Agent of SHIELD story, the more bored I become by the following Sgt. Fury story, no matter how good it is. In this case, we have a reasonably good Sgt. Fury story that tries to do a few interesting things, but I was so bored that I had to take numerous breaks from it. Maybe I'm just not a war mag guy. Whatever the case, I liked this series well enough until Agent of SHIELD started offering me a far more exciting story featuring the same central protagonist.

    Regarding this issue, there are four things about it that make it stand out from other Sgt. Fury issues:

    1. Children involved. We've had one previous story in which a child showed up, but he was an aspiring soldier who sought conflict. In this case, we have far younger innocent children, protected by a fearless nun, who look at the Howers as saviors (well, not sacrilegiously) and who bring out some of their humanity in contrast, which is pretty much as adorable as it had the potential to be. Dum-Dum, in particular, admits that he's terrified of children (an amusing yet believable comment) and then quickly warms up to them. I also loved Gabe making the little guy on his back promise that, if Gabe doesn't make it out of this alive, to "study the trumpet when ya grow up! You got a great pair of lungs, little fella!" However, it's interesting that we only see the children's reactions when the Howlers are winning. While this creates a great feel-good sense, it's hard to miss the omission of NOT seeing these kids react when doom seems inevitable.

    2. A closer look at the Japanese. Though the Howlers have fought the Japanese before (two times now, I believe) this is the first time that Lee gives them the same level of attention he gives to the Nazis, depicting conversations between their superior and lower soldiers in which ideologies and assumptions are revealed. While it was rarely disturbing to see how simplistically and foolishly Lee depicted the Nazis (after all, it was more a reflection of a political party/ideology that had swept the nation than a reflection of the German people themselves), the depiction of the Japanese in this story, in which they must commit hari-kari whenever they fail, care nothing about harming innocents, and even make up elaborate and unnecessary lies to justify burning missionaries and killing their occupants for no particular reason, absolutely comes off as a reflection of the race. Unfortunately, this was a pretty widely accepted double-standard about the war, depicted in much of its propaganda. However, Lee actually manages to make the depiction even more offensive while trying to do just the opposite when he has Fury say this of the Japanese commanding officer:

    "I ain't got the heart [to kill him], Corporal! He can't help bein' the way he is -- He don't know no better! But he's sure got all the courage a guy could want. Mebbe when he wakes up, somebody'll be able ta drum some sense into 'im--somehow--!"

    Essentially, the Japanese are depicted as naive children playing at war, too foolish to know any better. Subsequently, the entire idea of the Howlers courting the innocent Burmese children throughout the issue seems related to this idea -- attempting to educate the next generation of non-allied Asians to be less child-like than its predecessors (See, Dan? I used the word correctly this time!)

    And, perhaps the most offensive segment of the entire issue (though certainly not seen that way at the time):

    Little Burmese girl to Fury: Me love you, Yonkee! You so big and pretty!

    Yes, but will she love him long time?


    3. Religious issues raised in this story. It's hard to miss the fact that the virtuous heroine of this story is a Catholic nun (albeit a young and attractive one). A purposeful ideological subtext to this story is revealed when, in response to the Japanese commander's assertion that his race will one day be supreme, she comments that "You are wrong, general! There is but ONE supreme being in the universe!" suggesting that part of what makes Americans right in this war is their humility and god-fearing nature.

    Of course, this gets more interesting when one considers that Lee is Jewish. In fact, he brings this to the forefront of the story by the close as Izzy (always implied to be Jewish, but it has never outright been stated) comments, "Sister, we don't pray in the same church, but you're okay in MY book," and, in the final line of dialogue in the final panel of the story, seemingly arbitrarily reminds her that it's "Cohen, not Cohan!" Of course, one is a Jewish last name, and one is not.


    4. Percy's characterization. There's a lot going on with Percy in this one, and it extends beyond the origin story he's finally given here. Much as with Izzy, Stan has spent time hinting that Percy stands apart from the mainstream in some sense (specifically that he might be gay), and Lee seems to struggle with this possibility in the story. On the one hand, Stan and Dick make a deliberate (albeit subtle) point about Percy being the ONLY Howler who does not take well to the children, bothered by their playing with his umbrella and being the only one not to pair up with an individual child later in the story. While, in modern society, the idea of being gay is not necessarily consistent with not wanting kids, that seems to be an assumption that Lee and Ayers were taking here.

    Even Percy's utter shame at the mention of the leader of the Burma Dragons arouses suspicions. If this were a modern day story, my first guess would have been that this man had been an ex lover of his. Certainly, that's the feel I get from Percy's bashful reactions. And, ultimately, when we learn that Percy was kicked out of the officers' academy for his lifestyle choices and felt he'd disgraced his family, this brings a whole other guess to mind.

    And yet, in Percy's origin story, Percy describes his past self as having been "more interested in good times, pretty girls, and fast times" than his studies. Truly, none of that characterization aligns with the Percy we've known all throughout these stories and sounds like an overkill effort to make Percy seem like a regular, red-blooded heterosexual man.

    And yet, it's hard to miss that look on Percy's face in the second to last panel when his brother talks about them having grandkids.

    Truly, which is more believable -- that Percy was kicked out of the academy and feared disgracing his family due to a lifestyle of fast partying and loose women, or that he was a sensitive and serious soldier who also happened to be gay?

    Not sure what the story behind this issue is; whether there was a difference of opinion between Lee and Ayers, Lee and the powers that be, or simply in Lee's own head, but there's some clear indecision about Percy here, even as this origin story seeks to finally explain who he is to us.


    minor details: I find it hard to believe that the Japanese military would work so hard to pursue one nun and her charges just for practicing religion (what a waste of resources!), I fail to understand what the Japanese commander gained by lying about why he wanted her, and while I love Lee's belief in our government, I can't imagine that an outfit like The Howlers would be tapped for such a low priority mission when all out war was waging across the globe. This just feels like an over-simplified demonizing of the Japanese (nun and children killers!) and an over-simplified glorifying of the Allies (protectors of nuns and children)! This is all a stereotype going back to the medieval code of chivalry, in which knights were to be the protectors of widows, orphans, and the faith.

    Clever how we spend most of the story believing the title pertains to the Japanese officer told to bring in the Howlers and warned not to fail, and yet it ends up pertaining to Percy.

    Best line of the story:

    Fury: Pinkerton, I figger we'll make a Howler outta you yet!

    Percy: I say! All this time I thought I was teaching you!



    plot synopsis: Fury and the gang are sent to Berma to rescue a nun and her Bermese orphans, all being pursued by a Japanese commander who claims they carry stolen Axis plans, Percy provides a reluctant origin story about his dismissal from officers' academy and the shame that brought him, and Percy is reunited with his brother, leader of the Berma Dragons, who tells him he's proud of what Percy has accomplished.
    Last edited by shaxper; 08-22-2012 at 08:22 AM.

  9. #219

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post

    It's inevitable. The better the Agent of SHIELD story, the more bored I become by the following Sgt. Fury story, no matter how good it is. In this case, we have a reasonably good Sgt. Fury story that tries to do a few interesting things, but I was so bored that I had to take numerous breaks from it. Maybe I'm just not a war mag guy. Whatever the case, I liked this series well enough until Agent of SHIELD started offering me a far more exciting story featuring the same central protagonist.

    That first SHIELD story, for my money, is one of the best Marvel ran during the Silver Age. It's really awesome. Pretty much everything is boring compared to that stuff. And to think it ran at the same time as Ditko's classic Eternity storyline. I have a feeling Strange Tales would have been my favorite Marvel title if I had been reading at the time. The mix of magic and spies, with great stories, too good.


    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post

    2. A closer look at the Japanese. Though the Howlers have fought the Japanese before (two times now, I believe) this is the first time that Lee gives them the same level of attention he gives to the Nazis, depicting conversations between their superior and lower soldiers in which ideologies and assumptions are revealed. While it was rarely disturbing to see how simplistically and foolishly Lee depicted the Nazis (after all, it was more a reflection of a political party/ideology that had swept the nation than a reflection of the German people themselves), the depiction of the Japanese in this story, in which they must commit hari-kari whenever they fail, care nothing about harming innocents, and even make up elaborate and unnecessary lies to justify burning missionaries and killing their occupants for no particular reason, absolutely comes off as a reflection of the race. Unfortunately, this was a pretty widely accepted double-standard about the war, depicted in much of its propaganda. However, Lee actually manages to make the depiction even more offensive while trying to do just the opposite when he has Fury say this of the Japanese commanding officer:

    "I ain't got the heart [to kill him], Corporal! He can't help bein' the way he is -- He don't know no better! But he's sure got all the courage a guy could want. Mebbe when he wakes up, somebody'll be able ta drum some sense into 'im--somehow--!"
    I don't find this as offensive as you do, though I should say I dno't have the issue in front of me and am mostly reacting to your description rather than the actual comic. But it reads to me less a commentary comparing the Japanese to naive children and more commentary on how the Japanese people had been indoctrinated to believe in the infallibility of a divine emperor. This obviously wasn't true for every Japanese citizen at the time, but the vast majority of Japanese people at the time did not have the benefit of higher education and most of them did in fact believe that the emperor was divine and that therefoe their sacred duty was do do anything they were told.

    "He can't help bein' the way he is -- He don't know no better!" -- I kind of feel this was actually true. And in point of fact, the theme of this issue that you mention -- "attempting to educate the next generation of non-allied Asians to be less child-like than its predecessors" -- has actually happened, as evidenced by the Westernization of Japan in the post-war era.

    I agree that if Lee portrayed them as child-like, though, rather than just misguided or uneducated -- or downright bad -- that would be offensive.

    I should probably re-read this before I comment, but knowing what I am talking about before offering an opinion goes against internet protocol.


    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Of course, this gets more interesting when one considers that Lee is Jewish. In fact, he brings this to the forefront of the story by the close as Izzy (always implied to be Jewish, but it has never outright been stated) comments, "Sister, we don't pray in the same church, but you're okay in MY book," and, in the final line of dialogue in the final panel of the story, seemingly arbitrarily reminds her that it's "Cohen, not Cohan!" Of course, one is a Jewish last name, and one is not.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the next issue, #24, as we get some cool character bits with all the Howlers, including Izzy, when the Howlers are sent back to America on leave.

    I forget when, but eventually it is explicitly stated that Izzy is Jewish.

    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    4. Percy's characterization. There's a lot going on with Percy in this one, and it extends beyond the origin story he's finally given here. Much as with Izzy, Stan has spent time hinting that Percy stands apart from the mainstream in some sense (specifically that he might be gay), and Lee seems to struggle with this possibility in the story. On the one hand, Stan and Dick make a deliberate (albeit subtle) point about Percy being the ONLY Howler who does not take well to the children, bothered by their playing with his umbrella and being the only one not to pair up with an individual child later in the story. While, in modern society, the idea of being gay is not necessarily consistent with not wanting kids, that seems to be an assumption that Lee and Ayers were taking here.

    Even Percy's utter shame at the mention of the leader of the Burma Dragons arouses suspicions. If this were a modern day story, my first guess would have been that this man had been an ex lover of his. Certainly, that's the feel I get from Percy's bashful reactions. And, ultimately, when we learn that Percy was kicked out of the officers' academy for his lifestyle choices and felt he'd disgraced his family, this brings a whole other guess to mind.

    And yet, in Percy's origin story, Percy describes his past self as having been "more interested in good times, pretty girls, and fast times" than his studies. Truly, none of that characterization aligns with the Percy we've known all throughout these stories and sounds like an overkill effort to make Percy seem like a regular, red-blooded heterosexual man.

    And yet, it's hard to miss that look on Percy's face in the second to last panel when his brother talks about them having grandkids.

    Truly, which is more believable -- that Percy was kicked out of the academy and feared disgracing his family due to a lifestyle of fast partying and loose women, or that he was a sensitive and serious soldier who also happened to be gay?

    Not sure what the story behind this issue is; whether there was a difference of opinion between Lee and Ayers, Lee and an editor, or simply in Lee's own head, but there's some clear indecision about Percy here, even as this origin story seeks to finally explain who he is to us.

    I might be giving Lee waaaaaaay too much credit here, but it's possible that this is on purpose rather than due to indecision. Being gay in the 40's, especially in the military, was something you had to cover up, so Percy bragging about all the "pretty girls" he was chasing after is just the kind of thing a gay guy might have boasted about to try and cover his tracks. I'm speaking as though this doesn't still happen, when of course it does, but it was also common then for gay men to get married to straight women in order to cover up their lifestyle, often with the wife being in on it from the get go; these spouses are called "beards." The idea that Percy would be implied to be gay while kind of faking being straight in front of the guys is realistic, if maybe more subtle than Stan usually is. And by maybe, I mean way way more subtle.

    Still, it's consistent with how Percy is handled throughout the entire series. In #100, which takes place in "modern day" 1972, he is managing a Playboy Club while still seeming to be as gay as the day is long.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  10. #220
    *choke* Dan B. in the Underworld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    it was also common then for gay men to get married to straight women in order to cover up their lifestyle, often with the wife being in on it from the get go; these spouses are called "beards."
    I believe the preferred term these days is "Katies;" see: Cruise, Tom.
    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!

  11. #221
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    That first SHIELD story, for my money, is one of the best Marvel ran during the Silver Age. It's really awesome. Pretty much everything is boring compared to that stuff. And to think it ran at the same time as Ditko's classic Eternity storyline. I have a feeling Strange Tales would have been my favorite Marvel title if I had been reading at the time. The mix of magic and spies, with great stories, too good.
    It's STILL one of my favorite runs of all time, and to think Stan was plotting both in tandum so that both culminated at the same time (or was it one issue apart?)!


    I don't find this as offensive as you do, though I should say I dno't have the issue in front of me and am mostly reacting to your description rather than the actual comic. But it reads to me less a commentary comparing the Japanese to naive children and more commentary on how the Japanese people had been indoctrinated to believe in the infallibility of a divine emperor. This obviously wasn't true for every Japanese citizen at the time, but the vast majority of Japanese people at the time did not have the benefit of higher education and most of them did in fact believe that the emperor was divine and that therefoe their sacred duty was do do anything they were told.
    Then perhaps Lee's fault was in not explaining this with enough consideration. I prefer your explanation (which is ideological in nature) to his (which is implied as a racial generalization).

    "He can't help bein' the way he is -- He don't know no better!" -- I kind of feel this was actually true. And in point of fact, the theme of this issue that you mention -- "attempting to educate the next generation of non-allied Asians to be less child-like than its predecessors" -- has actually happened, as evidenced by the Westernization of Japan in the post-war era.
    And look how that attitude worked out in the long run. Japan is obsessed with, afraid of, and highly resentful of American culture all at the same time, but try walking down a street in Japan with shaking hand outstretched and not getting called "Gaijin".


    I agree that if Lee portrayed them as child-like, though, rather than just misguided or uneducated -- or downright bad -- that would be offensive.
    I think it's more dignified to call someone "evil" than "stupid," but maybe that's me.


    I should probably re-read this before I comment, but knowing what I am talking about before offering an opinion goes against internet protocol.
    Fair enough, though your comments apply to the story well; I just don't agree.



    I'm really looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the next issue, #24, as we get some cool character bits with all the Howlers, including Izzy, when the Howlers are sent back to America on leave.
    Wow. Actually looking forward to a Sgt. Fury issue for a change...


    I forget when, but eventually it is explicitly stated that Izzy is Jewish.
    I've heard that. I think that happens on Freidrich's watch.



    I might be giving Lee waaaaaaay too much credit here, but it's possible that this is on purpose rather than due to indecision. Being gay in the 40's, especially in the military, was something you had to cover up, so Percy bragging about all the "pretty girls" he was chasing after is just the kind of thing a gay guy might have boasted about to try and cover his tracks. I'm speaking as though this doesn't still happen, when of course it does, but it was also common then for gay men to get married to straight women in order to cover up their lifestyle, often with the wife being in on it from the get go; these spouses are called "beards." The idea that Percy would be implied to be gay while kind of faking being straight in front of the guys is realistic, if maybe more subtle than Stan usually is. And by maybe, I mean way way more subtle.
    I'd considered that possibility. It's also occurred to me that the visuals Ayers provides for the flashback could just as easily work if his reason for dismissal and shame was his sexuality. Perhaps this means that the uncertainty about the truth of his claim is intended, or perhaps that means the decision to change Percy's origin was made after Ayers had completed the penciling.

    Still, it's consistent with how Percy is handled throughout the entire series. In #100, which takes place in "modern day" 1972, he is managing a Playboy Club while still seeming to be as gay as the day is long.
    Okay, that's just awesome.

  12. #222
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Strange Tales #138

    "Sometimes the Good Guys Lose!"
    writer: Stan Lee
    layouts: Jack Kirby
    pencils and inks: John Severin
    letters: Sam Rosen

    grade: B+

    Momentum keeps building in this first sweeping S.H.I.E.L.D. story arc. Kirby's layouts are absolutely eye-catching, and Severin's pencils and shading seem to do them justice. Still, I found this issue frustrating for two simple reasons:

    1. Tony Stark's involvement in this issue

    If you're going to put Tony Stark in this story, understand that readers are expecting Iron Man to make an appearance too. Unfortunately, Lee keeps baiting us (unintentionally, I believe) in really frustrating ways.

    Some examples:

    Stark: The bomb is so constructed that, if it is destroyed in space, the fallout will affect untold millions on Earth.
    Gabe: If we can't shoot it down without deadly fallout covering the Earth, how do we fight back?
    DumDum: Don't ask me, Gabe! That's for big brains like TONY STARK to dope out.


    ...enter Iron Man to push the bomb away from Earth's orbit????

    Nope!


    Fury: Look, Stark. I ain't got time for Folla The Leader! Where are we headin'?
    Stark: To another section of my plant! I've something to SHOW you...


    ...that he's Iron Man?

    Nope!


    Stark: It's a new MACHINE, Colonel...I'm constructing it under the same veil of secrecy as the Manhatten A-Bomb Project in World War II.
    Fury: Okay, okay! I'm really impressed. Now where is it, Mister?
    Stark: I can only show it to you alone!


    Still nope!


    Later, Fury and Stark come under attack by an onslaught of attacking HYDRA agents and Fury locks Stark safely in the next room. Time to become Iron Man and come to Fury's aid against impossible odds?

    NOPE!

    Finally, we get the following:

    "If only I had my attache case with me...it contains my expanding suit of armor! There'd still be a chance to stop them..."

    Seriously?


    I get it. Fans didn't want to see Superheroes mixing with the Howling Commandos, and so Lee is still treading carefully in his S.H.I.E.L.D. stories, but what a tease!


    2. The identity of the Supreme HYDRA Commander.

    Lee is still trying to have fun with us on this one. When I read these stories for the first time, I took it as a given who the Supreme Commander was (and, for the record, I was wrong), but Lee tries to create some confusion here that does not work. First, when the lights go out in the board room of Imperial Industries International, Lee has fun by having one of the shadows think "The signal I have been waiting for. The mission is over. Fury has been captured!" but if you go back and examine that panel and the one before it carefully, there's no way that silhouette could have belonged to the Supreme Hydra Commander. It's an unfair misdirect considering where everyone was standing in the previous panel while the lights were still on.

    Then Vincent Vandergill is needlessly introduced as an antagonist trying to undermine the CEO, and more importantly a potential alter-ego for the Supreme Commander, but two panels later, we see that the Supreme Commander can only be one of two people, and neither is Vandergill, so what was the point? I suppose the intended ten year old audience reading these issues wouldn't be so perceptive.

    To be fair, I WAS surprised when the Supreme Commander was revealed at the end of this story arc, so I should probably curb my criticism in regard to this.


    Minor Details:

    - Fury again references the three operatives who gave their lives in the previous issue. A damn fine moment in comicdom.

    - The Supreme Commander praises himself for creating an entire bureaucracy in which each department is named after appropriate, yet entirely unintimidating animals, including beavers, moles, and camels, and he uses one such department (Diplomacy, represented by a Fox) just to issue his demands to foreign leaders when I would suspect speaking to them directly would carry more weight and take roughly a minute of his time.

    - Fury holds off an entire onslaught of HYDRA agents by virtue of his bulletproof vest (and they even comment on this), yet not one of them thinks to aim for the face?

    - We still don't know what Stark's invention, the Braino-saur, is yet. If it's a super smart dinosaur, I will be very disappointed. Honestly, I just don't remember.


    plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence: Fury and the gang find the HYDRA launch site but are not in time to prevent the launching of the betatron bomb, the Supreme Commander's daughter disagrees with what he is doing and drives him to rage over this, Tony Stark takes Fury to his company in order to show him the Braino-Saur, a super secret weapon, HYDRA agents arrive and kidnap Fury, we're offered some misdirection as to who the Supreme Commander really is and only know that he is somehow involved in the power struggle amongst the board members of Imperial Industries International (though, if you pay careful attention, he can only be one of two people there), and Fury is brought before the Supreme Commander as he proceeds to have his demands issued to the President of the United States (and, presumably, leaders of other nations).

    Great action, great fun, great concept, but a few too many unfair teases in this issue.
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-09-2013 at 01:58 PM.

  13. #223
    CotM Member Rob Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Strange Tales #138

    "Sometimes the Good Guys Lose!"
    writer: Stan Lee
    layouts: Jack Kirby
    pencils: John Severin
    letters: Sal Rosen
    Pencils & inks: John Severin
    Letters: Sam Rosen
    --
    Rob Allen

  14. #224
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Allen View Post
    Pencils & inks: John Severin
    Letters: Sam Rosen
    Whoops. Thanks.

  15. #225
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos #24

    "When the Howlers Hit the Home Front!"
    writer: Stan Lee
    pencils: Dick Ayers
    inks: Frank Ray
    letters: Sam Rosen

    grade: B-

    I love heroes on vacation. From the X-Men in Times Square at Christmas to Stormwatch at "The Last Shot" bar, there's something about the character development that occurs when our characters are off duty and liberated from their normal cares. Guards are dropped as well, and characters learn about each other from the experience. True team building occurs. And so I really enjoyed aspects of this issue, in which the team is given a furlough (not with the same connotation the word carries in these economically troubled times) to get away to the States for a few days.

    However, this issue is still a little too silly and light-hearted for my taste. "Oh no! Nazis have taken over Reb's home!!" And there were missed opportunities for a lot more dramatic impact with the helpless feeling Reb must have felt in this situation with his parents hostage, or further playing up how difficult it was to leave Dum Dum behind at the close of the issue. Maybe that's just Silver Age comics in general, but I still have a hard time fully enjoying many of these issues for this reason. I've seen great pathos in a few of them, and tremendous action and weighty messages in others, but most are just a little too light for my taste.

    It's worth noting that, just last issue, Stan and Dick gave us a back story on Pinky, and we learned Fury's past back in issue #7. Now, in this issue, we're given far more info about Izz, Gabe, and Reb. Since Dino is implied to be Dean Martin, that really only leaves Dum Dum to develop. Perhaps that's the rationale behind having him injured in this issue so that we can watch him spend time recovering with his wife and infamous but never yet seen mother-in-law by his side.

    At any rate, here's what we learn this issue:

    Izzy is still gently implied to be Jewish (the reference to Gefilte Fish), though Stan still seems very careful about this, even having Izzy's dad thank a generically labelled "God" and having his mother answer with a Christian "Amen". We also learn that he has a sister who does not receive a name.

    Gabe is an established Jazz musician of considerable reputation. I wonder if, like Dino, he's similarly based upon a real celebrity. Interesting that Gabe goes to see his Uncle Bill, yet makes no mention of other family.

    Reb's family is considerably wealthy. We meet his mother and father but are given no names.


    Other Important Details:

    - Hanz gets dumped with Reb's family for the remainder of the war.

    - Dum-Dum is shot and separated from the Howlers as he is left to recover in the States while they report back to duty.

    - This is certainly the most continuity we've seen in this title at this point, with a significant change for Hanz and Dum Dum left on the sidelines, not immaculately healed and back with the Howlers at the close of the issue.


    Minor details:

    - Interesting that Reb stayed to meet Izzy's family, but left right before everyone went to visit Gabe's uncle. With Kentucky being located just barely above the Mason Dixon line, I suppose I was curious to see if there'd be any tension when Gabe and Reb met each other's families, but Stan and Dick steer clear of this. Even when the Howlers all meet Reb's parents, they and Gabe never even appear on the same panel, even while presumably within a few feet of each other for ten pages.

    - Stan has a lot of fun emphasizing the responsibility we all had to support the war effort with the introduction of the Zoot Suiters in this issue who have no interest in the war and no respect for it's soldiers, as well as in praising the USO with a direct address even after depicting it in such a positive light.

    - Would Hitler have been concerned with the Manhattan Project? I thought it was clear that he had the opportunity to research it and decided it wasn't the way to go. Heck, would he have known about it?



    Plot synopsis in one sentence:

    The Howlers get a vacation in the states, they visit Izzy's family and Gabe's uncle before getting a hint from Reb that something has gone wrong at his home, so they go to Reb's home and discover it has been infiltrated by Nazis using it as a base to sabotage the Manhattan Project, the Howlers save the day, Dum Dum is shot, he is left to recover in the states, and Hanz is left with Reb's parents, as the Howlers return to duty.
    Last edited by shaxper; 03-15-2013 at 06:48 AM.

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