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  1. #16
    Idaho Spuds Slam_Bradley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDG View Post
    This bugged me in the Capt America movie as well--it was the background anachronisms (a World's Fair--with the Unisphere--in '42?) that I found less "realistic" than things like a super-soldier formula (or that Hitler wasn't the real bad guy).

    The same things bugged me. The Hitler thing was a business decision, so it was easy to give it a pass.

  2. #17
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Confessor View Post
    Of all the unrealistic things a reader has to overlook in order to enjoy this comic, the addition of an African American in the unit bugged me the most. I think that's because it's a flaw in the basic set up of the series. Like, I can believe that these individuals can overcome insurmountable odds, perform unlikely feats of bravery and cheat death on a daily basis as long as the basic premise of the unit and why they're fighting is sound. The addition of Gabe is a flaw in that basic premise for me.
    Funny. That sort of thing usually bugs me, but I liked it here. I assumed that, if someone was truly trying to assemble the best of the best in order to win the war, they would put aside past perceptions of ethnicities in order to do so -- the best soldiers are the best soldiers, plain and simple. I actually really respected the practical balance in Able Company that Gabe's presence suggests: a mix between common sense equality and the strong convictions/sense of right and wrong that we normally assume we have to discard in order to be more tolerant.

    I could even see a pre-commando Nick Fury getting caught in a sticky situation with Gabe present, being impressed by him, and fighting like heck to get him instated in the Commandos later on, as unwavering and single-minded as always and refusing to see things through anyone else's eyes. All Fury would see is an excellent soldier.

    As for the black character in the Captain America movie, I assumed that was supposed to be Fury (since, you know, Samuel L. Jackson is black). Although that would make him around 90 years old in the present day. Okay, point taken. It's Gabriel.

    Also, why doesn't Gabe look even remotely African American the first time we see him (the double splash on pages 2 and 3) but suddenly he does on page 4, panel 7? Then he reverts back to looking Caucasian at the end of the book. Someone wasn't paying attention, methinks.
    Didn't notice this in the first issue, but it's a definite problem in the second.
    Last edited by shaxper; 09-28-2011 at 01:54 PM.

  3. #18
    NOT Bucky O'Hare! The Confessor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Funny. That sort of thing usually bugs me, but I liked it here. I assumed that, if someone was truly trying to assemble the best of the best in order to win the war, they would put aside past perceptions of ethnicities in order to do so -- the best soldiers are the best soldiers, plain and simple.

    Well, indeed the best soldiers are the best soldiers...it's just a pity that the U.S. army (and the U.S.A.A.F.) didn't see it quite like that back in the day. But of course, this is the Marvel Universe and as we all know, history is different there. I mean, somewhere in the same theatre of operations, superhero teams like the Invaders and the Twelve are kicking some nazi butt! So I guess we just have to accept that in the MU, racially intergrated units were much more commonplace during WW2 than in our own history.
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  4. #19
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Confessor View Post
    But of course, this is the Marvel Universe and as we all know, history is different there.
    Agreed. I definitely don't think we were supposed to see Able Company as the commonplace everysoldiers of WWII. They may not wear capes or have specific powers, but they're intended to be superheroes and the work of escapist fantasy.

    So I guess we just have to accept that in the MU, racially intergrated units were much more commonplace during WW2 than in our own history.
    Not necessarily commonplace. Stan isn't necessarily depicting the entire Allied military complex as ideal and infallible -- just Fury and his company.

  5. #20
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos #3

    "Midnight on Massacre Mountain"
    writer: Stan Lee
    pencils: Jack Kirby
    inks: Dick Ayers
    letters: Sam Rosen

    grade: B-

    On the one hand, I didn't find this issue as entertaining as the last one. Once again, Stan's script seems to dominate the foreground, with Jack's action functioning as an after-thought, and we've definitely seen the reverse work better. On the other hand, though, Stan continues to be very careful with characterization, keeping all seven Howlers entirely consistent with their previous characterizations, and even taking pains to make Fury and Dum Dum's over-the-top antics in #1 fit by showing how all the Howlers seem to go half-insane when they don't have a battle to fight. Man, these guys are going to have a hard time reacclimating to civil society after the war.

    In addition to rehashing much of what we already knew about the individual Howlers, Stan adds an intriguing new detail about Dino, showing his more serious side when we discover that he was born in Italy and how enraged he is about what the Nazis have done to his home country. That makes two characters in the outfit seeking outright revenge against the Nazis for what was done to their people (Izzy being the other)

    And, speaking of Izzy, we learn he's from Brooklyn in this issue, once again strongly adding to the implication that he's of Jewish decent. Izzy still doesn't have any sign of a personality in the first half of this book, but he's cracking jokes along with Reb by the second half.

    I'd imagine that Izzy would be the world's first Jewish American comic book hero. Can someone fact check me on that one? And was Gabriel the first African American one, as well?

    Incidentally, Gabriel is still colored as a Caucasian at points in this issue. Why does that keep happening?


    Once again, Able Company is depicted as some sort of idealistic beacon of racial equality, featuring a ragtag ensemble of representatives from stigmatized American ethnicities, both past and present: two Irishmen, an Italian, a Southerner, an African American, and a Jewish American, and I dig that. All that matters is how hard they fight against evil.

    Assuming I'm correct that Fury is Irish (reddish hair color, last name is generally associated with Irish or English ancestory), Junior is the only commando who doesn't represent a stigmatized American ethnicity. Juniper is an English last name, but we know he graduated from an American Ivy League school, so that would suggest that he's an American Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

    I think the style of story-telling that this issue repeats from the previous one is enormously successful -- beginning with a fun, multi-page snapshot of the crew when not in danger in order to bring out the humor, fun, and personality of the team, before sending them into the central plot.

    Unfortunately, the plot of this issue is less than fantastic (no play on words intended -- you'll see why I say this by the end of the paragraph). I still have no idea how the Howlers got through that Nazi brigade in a raft without being blown to bits, and the rescue of the stranded Italian soldiers couldn't possibly be as compelling as protecting the secret of the D-Day Invasion or thwarting Hitler's nuclear program. Lee could have done more to emphasize the importance of saving the lives of G.I. heroes in this issue, or Kirby could have done more with the action. Even the random insertion of Reed Richards as an O.S.S. agent couldn't make this plot more compelling for me. The Nazi informant was a nice twist, I suppose.

    And, I believe that Reed Richards' cameo here makes this only the second time in the Marvel Silver Age in which a Marvel hero crosses over into someone else's book (Amazing Spidey #1 being the first, unless you count Sub-Mariner in Fantastic Four, which I don't).


    The minor details:

    House ads for both Avengers #1 and X-Men #1 -- Wow.

    This is definitely Kirby's best cover on this title yet. How the heck does the same man produce this and the incredibly clumsy cover to #1? Of course, Fury still looks like a man-ape in at least one panel of this issue (page 11, panel 3).

    As far as I can tell, we're still moving forward in time from the first issue, though past events are never referenced in this or the previous issue. Since new characters will soon be introduced and one current character will eventually die, the comic pretty much has to move forward in time each issue. Maybe they'll just ignore the timeline established in the first issue. I don't know how far D-Day was planned ahead of the actual invasion, but I'm willing to bet it wasn't done 120 days in advance (roughly the number of original Sgt. Fury stories published before the series was cancelled).


    The plot synopsis in one sentence: The Howling Commandos thwart a sabotage attempt on the English shore, briefly meet up with Reed Richards, and then rescue a stranded Italian resistance division from Massacre Mountain.
    Last edited by shaxper; 12-21-2011 at 10:24 PM.

  6. #21
    Senior Member foxley's Avatar
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    Of course, Fury still looks like a man-ape in at least one panel of this issue (page 11, panel 3).
    It's Kirby. Don't most of his characters look like man-apes?

  7. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    As for the black character in the Captain America movie, I assumed that was supposed to be Fury (since, you know, Samuel L. Jackson is black). Although that would make him around 90 years old in the present day. Okay, point taken. It's Gabriel.
    It's Gabe all right, but the strange thing is, the British commando in the film is not, in fact, Percy Pinkerton but rather James Falsworth, the original Union Jack. In the comics, of course, this character was active in World War I, but for some reason they brought him forward to replace Percy. I have to admit I found this to be inexplicable when I saw it in the credits.


    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    I'd imagine that Izzy would be the world's first Jewish American comic book hero. Can someone fact check me on that one? And was Gabriel the first African American one, as well?
    Gabe was preceded by Sgt. Rock's Jackie Johnson by four years. Technically there were previous African American heroes, but only a couple, and none that were mainstream other than racially offensive sidekicks like Whitewash Jones. In 1947 a group of African American comic creators teamed up to put out All-Negro Comics, which featured all black characters, including heroes like hard boiled detective Ace Harlem and crusading UN agent Lion Man. However, newsstands refused to distribute the comic and as a result it was cancelled after one issue.


    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    I don't know how far D-Day was planned ahead of the actual invasion, but I'm willing to bet it wasn't done 120 days in advance (roughly the number of original Sgt. Fury stories published before the series was cancelled).

    D-Day was in the planning stages for roughly two years, essentially from the initial strategy meetings between the U.S. and Britain in 1942. It was a major source of contention between the two; Britain favored smaller actions on the fringes of the war theater (for reasons too complex to get into here), while America favored the big strike. The invasion was initially supposed to take place in 1943 but after pressure from Britain, it was delayed until 1944; part of this was due to the immense logistical challenges involved in trying to build and collect a fleet of thousands of ships to transport hundreds of thousands of troops and then manage to float them across the most heavily defended body of water in the world and land them in the face of entrenched enemy fortifications. Indeed, in 1943 the Allies didn't actually have enough ships to attempt the landing anyway, so the delay was probably necessary.

    The immense logistics also help explain why, as others have said, the location -- and to a lesser extent the date -- of D-Day couldn't be changed easily in issue #1 and also why it was important that the Germans not know exactly when and where the invasion was going to take place. The channel crossing had to take place between May and August to have any reasonable chance of success due to the terrible weather that dominates the English Channel during the rest of the year. And the location was even more important, because the best chance the Germans had was to defeat the landing as it happened. If they could pin the invasion down on the beach -- as they nearly did on Omaha Beach -- incoming troops would literally have nowhere to land. It was like a huge bottleneck; you have 150,000 troops that need to be landed on boats and come ashore via a patch of ground barely a half mile wide. If the Germans had been able to stop the initial wave of troops, those behind would either have to abandon the landing attempt; or jam themselves into an increasingly crowded killing zone; and the weight of men and supplies clogging things up would prevents support like tanks from landing to assist the effort. This is why the Allies landed simultaneously on five different locations in order to give themselves the best chance to successfully disembark -- and capture enough ground to provide a staging area for the horde coming in behind them. Basically, you can think of it as waves of troops; the beach might only have enough room to hold 5,000 troops at the most -- but there are actually 30,000 that need to land on each beach. So if the first wave gets stuck, the other 25,000 have nowhere to go and the whole invasion fails before it can even get started.

    This is basically what happened during the catastrophic raid on Dieppe in 1942 by the Canadian army. It was supposed to be a test run for the 1943 invasion but was so completely crushed on the beach that it convinced the British that the 1943 invasion would have to be scrapped.
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  8. #23
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    In 1947 a group of African American comic creators teamed up to put out All-Negro Comics, which featured all black characters, including heroes like hard boiled detective Ace Harlem and crusading UN agent Lion Man. However, newsstands refused to distribute the comic and as a result it was cancelled after one issue.
    Fascinating. Were any of the creators people that we would know today?




    D-Day was in the planning stages for roughly two years, essentially from the initial strategy meetings between the U.S. and Britain in 1942. It was a major source of contention between the two; Britain favored smaller actions on the fringes of the war theater (for reasons too complex to get into here), while America favored the big strike. The invasion was initially supposed to take place in 1943 but after pressure from Britain, it was delayed until 1944.
    So, roughly, what was the span of time between determining an actual date and place for the D-Day attacks and carrying them out?

    ; part of this was due to the immense logistical challenges involved in trying to build and collect a fleet of thousands of ships to transport hundreds of thousands of troops and then manage to float them across the most heavily defended body of water in the world and land them in the face of entrenched enemy fortifications. Indeed, in 1943 the Allies didn't actually have enough ships to attempt the landing anyway, so the delay was probably necessary.

    The immense logistics also help explain why, as others have said, the location -- and to a lesser extent the date -- of D-Day couldn't be changed easily in issue #1 and also why it was important that the Germans not know exactly when and where the invasion was going to take place. The channel crossing had to take place between May and August to have any reasonable chance of success due to the terrible weather that dominates the English Channel during the rest of the year. And the location was even more important, because the best chance the Germans had was to defeat the landing as it happened. If they could pin the invasion down on the beach -- as they nearly did on Omaha Beach -- incoming troops would literally have nowhere to land. It was like a huge bottleneck; you have 150,000 troops that need to be landed on boats and come ashore via a patch of ground barely a half mile wide. If the Germans had been able to stop the initial wave of troops, those behind would either have to abandon the landing attempt; or jam themselves into an increasingly crowded killing zone; and the weight of men and supplies clogging things up would prevents support like tanks from landing to assist the effort. This is why the Allies landed simultaneously on five different locations in order to give themselves the best chance to successfully disembark -- and capture enough ground to provide a staging area for the horde coming in behind them. Basically, you can think of it as waves of troops; the beach might only have enough room to hold 5,000 troops at the most -- but there are actually 30,000 that need to land on each beach. So if the first wave gets stuck, the other 25,000 have nowhere to go and the whole invasion fails before it can even get started.

    This is basically what happened during the catastrophic raid on Dieppe in 1942 by the Canadian army. It was supposed to be a test run for the 1943 invasion but was so completely crushed on the beach that it convinced the British that the 1943 invasion would have to be scrapped.
    This is fascinating. Thanks much for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

  9. #24
    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Assuming I'm correct that Fury is Irish (reddish hair color, last name is generally associated with Irish or English ancestory), Junior is the only commando who doesn't represent a stigmatized American ethnicity. Juniper is an English last name. Of course, his ethnicity would still be important because, along with Dino's Italian heritage, it represents international cooperation in fighting the Nazis.
    Reading that, it occurs to me that the Howlers are basically the grown-up version of Kirby's Boy Commandos.
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  10. #25
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKCarrier View Post
    Reading that, it occurs to me that the Howlers are basically the grown-up version of Kirby's Boy Commandos.
    Very interesting parallel there. Nice observation.

  11. #26
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Very interesting parallel there. Nice observation.
    Interesting indeed. I had never considered this, but there are indeed similarities.
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  12. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Fascinating. Were any of the creators people that we would know today?
    I don't think so, at least not from a comics perspective. The whole thing was the brainchild of reporter named Orrin C. Evans, who wrote most of the strips I believe as well as edited it an published it. He later went on to become a well known reporter for the New York Times, but I'm not aware of any other comic book work.

    This website has more info on him and the creation of All-Negro Comics.








    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    So, roughly, what was the span of time between determining an actual date and place for the D-Day attacks and carrying them out?
    Depends on how you look at it, but just about ten months. The plan for Operation Overlord was agreed upon by the allies in August of 1943 (after the initial plan to invade in 1943, Operation Roundup, had been scrapped) with a planned start date for the invasion of May 1, 1944. When they got close to the date they realized they weren't quite ready, so they moved it to June 5. Weather concerns caused them to delay the actual start date until the next day, June 6. So basically 10 months.
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  13. #28
    Gotham Guardian Captain Jim's Avatar
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    I finally saw the Captain America movie today (it finally arrived in the bargain theater) and was pleasantly surprised to see Cap working with the Howling Commandos. Even though they were never called by that name, it was pretty obvious to insiders who they were. Nice touch.
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  14. #29
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    (Sorry I'm lagging so far behind on these. Life has been quite busy as of late, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon...)

    Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #4

    "Lord Ha-Ha's Last Laugh"
    writer: Stan Lee
    pencils: Jack Kirby
    inks: G. Bell
    colors: ?
    letters: Sal Rosen

    grade: B

    ***Normally, the idea of spoiler warnings in a review for a 48 year old comic book would seem ridiculous, but I feel compelled to make such a warning this time around. If you plan on ever reading this issue of Sgt. Fury and have not already done so, then I strongly suggest avoiding this review and all the reviews that follow in this thread. You may want to read this one for yourself.***


    Four issues in, and we already have a first death of a main character. I wonder how common this sort of thing was in war comics of the time period.

    It certainly seems shocking to me, and yet it's treated so matter of fact to the cast. I guess hardened commandos would need to deal with it in that way. I applaud Lee and Kirby for showing such true-to-life restraint in the treatment of Junior's death, but I certainly would have enjoyed watching those tough facades crack for just a moment in dealing with the loss of their compatriot. Sure, Fury stumbles on his words, Dino wonders which one of them will die next, and Izzy remarks that they are all expendable, so maybe it's just Kirby holding back then . These reactions are all done in a single unexpressive panel, and then life moves on.

    Fury certainly gives more emotional attention to Pamela at the end, and maybe they mean to infer that that's why someone like Pamela is so important to a soldier...life affirming things like romance help put the horrors of war in the emotional background.

    Or maybe I'm reading too far into it.

    At any rate, Kirby's restraint in depicting Junior's death makes more sense when you consider that he served in WWII himself. Chances are, he understood, first hand, the need to downplay the death of a comrade.

    And so we have our first death, done less to draw sympathy and more to present the true horrors and dangers of war. In just the second issue, Lee and Kirby took us to a concentration camp. Now Junior is dead...randomly killed in one of their dozens of impossible showdowns -- a simple reminder of the risks they continually take in a war that isn't done justice when glorified and wiped clean of its horrors.

    Suddenly, the Howlers seem even more heroic as a result. It's not hard to leap into impossible dangers when there's no true risk. It's why, in 1975, Len Wein created John Proudstar as a member of the All New, All Different X-Men with the full intention of killing him off early on. Doing so showed that their adventures weren't just fun and games. The stakes were now incredibly high, and the dramatic tension so much greater as a result. I never realized Lee and Kirby had done this first, more than ten years earlier.

    (Too bad I already know who the only other major death in this run will end up being.)

    Of course, I wonder if the Comics Code would have allowed this in a superhero comic in the 1960s. I'd imagine one of the perks of writing a pseudo-historical war comic enmeshed in our country's true violent history is being able to depict violence and death to an extent that it was not allowed in other genres. The gun firing, the grenade throwing, and the body counts in each issue certainly couldn't be done in a superhero mag of the time period, and I doubt the death of a major character would have worked either. No wonder Stan and Jack were so eager to write a war series.

    Then again, I wonder if even a war story had attempted to depict the death of a major character within the confines of the Comic Code before. Look at how careful Stan is to avoid outright stating Junior has died in this issue. The cover only promises that, "one commando will fight no more after this nightmare mission!" and when Dum-Dum asks, "Sarge, what's the scoop? How bad did Junior get it?" Fury only replies with, "Bad enough, Dum-Dum. He...won't be...coming back," with Reb then referring to Junior going out the way he would have wanted. Maybe the emotional restraint shown by Stan and Jack was done in order to avoid censure from the code -- doing everything possible not to draw more attention to the death than was absolutely necessary.


    Whether Stan and Jack had planned to kill Junior from the start or made that decision partway in, it seems to me that there were several reasons why Junior was the one who had to go:

    1. Ethnicity. As stated in my previous review, every other Howler represents an ethnic group that was, at one point, marginalized by American culture (African American, Southern, Irish, Italian, Jewish). Junior, on the other hand, had an English last name and, without an English accent and with an American Ivy League background, would appear to be an American ancestor of early British Protestant Settlers; mainstream 1960s America, essentially. I hate to think of the Howlers as some sort of Affirmative Action group where Whitey always has to die, but Junior certainly didn't serve as the kind of meaningful symbol of anti-discrimination and national harmony in the face of tyranny that his compatriots did.

    2. Looked too much like Reb. Each other Howler is pretty easy to distinguish from one another with even broad pencil strokes, but Reb's hat is the only thing that allows you to tell him and Junior apart from a distance. Whenever they're in costume, they are very easy to confuse for one another.

    3. Ambitious personality. Each of the Howlers is beginning to develop some sense of personality at this point, but all that Junior has displayed was the ambition and ability to one day usurp Dum-Dum back in issue #2. Clearly, that wasn't going to work in a tight-knit group like the Howlers unless Dum-Dum was going to die (and he's just too darn fun to get rid of). Either Junior was going to get promoted out of the group, or he had a personality that was ill-suited to the title. You'd either have to kill him off or ignore his earlier ambition and start back at square one with the kid.

    I find it interesting that Jack chose not to include Junior on the cover. He hadn't died at the point in the story being depicted. Maybe the cover was drawn ahead of the story being written, and Jack wasn't sure when Junior was going to die?

    Of course, check out the only other Howler that was left off the cover -- Gabriel. At least he's finally correctly colored as an African American throughout this issue. Are the miscolors and the cover absence this time all coincidence, or was there that much of an ordeal with attempting to include an African American hero in a mainstream comic at the time?

    Also worth noting: This is the first appearance of Pamela Hawley and her father, though she doesn't seem particularly notable at this point.

    The inevitable side notes:

    This issue explicitly sets the date as "World War II," with no other specifics offered. Once again, there seems to be a conscious attempt to move the series away from any kind of historical time-table within which to constrain the series' progression. I'm still not sure the series could have ever lasted as long as it did if it held to the time-table established in the first issue, with D-Day already being planned. It's probably a smart idea to avoid dates and references to major events in the war at this point.

    Fury helplessly trapped in an airraid shelter with Nazis flying overhead and his own soldiers above ground without him -- I would have liked Lee and Kirby to have spent more time here and taken Nick's frustration a bit further. Giving more attention to Pamela talking him down in their first meeting would have been a powerful move -- a woman who can tame Fury's rage. It certainly would have made me understand Fury's feelings for her a bit more.

    Why is there a Nazi flag in the Howlers' barracks on page 4? I'm assuming the gun above it suggests that they use it for target practice, but that's not really obvious from the panel.

    An Ad for Avengers #4 promising an appearance by "Sub-Mariner". Wow. Finding that issue on the stands after such a misleading solicit must have been a real heart-stopper.

    Lord Ha-Ha, an Englishman captured and used as propaganda against the Allies -- was there a historical counterpart to this? I'm not sure I buy the idea of having him specifically taunt the commandos in each announcement so that they'd try to sneak into Berlin to get him and then get caught, themselves. Seems a little far fetched to me.

    (continued on next page...)
    Last edited by shaxper; 12-21-2011 at 10:25 PM.

  15. #30
    Senior Member prince hal's Avatar
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    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.

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