Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #7
"The Court-Martial of Sgt. Fury"
writer: Stan Lee
pencils: Jack Kirby
inks: Geo Bell
letters: Art Simek
Honestly, I expected more from this one. A court martial is grounds for intense excitement, but the only real drama in this trial was the fact that Nick conveniently got amnesia and couldn't remember his otherwise clearly justified reasons for his actions. I was expecting a murkier trial, one in which there was no obvious "out" for Nick waiting at the end (clearly, he was going to recover his memory at the last moment). And I can't help but feel the cover lied to me, promising, "If he's found guilty, it's the FIRING SQUAD for Nick Fury!" Would they really have executed Nick for striking and disobeying a commanding officer? I expected the case against Nick to have been something more dire than it proved to be. It almost seems like Lee and Kirby envisioned the cover first and then created a story to go with it, never stopping to realize the latter was nowhere near as exciting as the former.
Still, this issue provided some important background info for Nick that was worth seeing. We learn that Nick was an orphan from the wrong side of the tracks, quick to anger, but a good kid, hanging out in pool halls and never holding down a regular job.
We also meet Chaplin Lewis Hargrove, learn that his younger (unnamed) brother was Nick's boyhood friend, and that Nick became a commando in order to avenge his friend's death at Pearl Harbor. I'm not sure whether this means Fury was already in the Armed Forces and chose to become a commando or that he first enlisted in the armed forced because of this.
And speaking of first appearances, we also meet Sgt. Bull McGiveney, Fury's loud-mouthed rival, in this story, as well as "Cookie" (is this his nickname or just something Dino called him when he walked in?).
Finally, we learn that Able Company is the 1st Attack Squad. I don't know enough about the military to know if this means anything, but it's presented to us in the form of a paper in Fury's file.
Kirby's art is incredibly inconsistent and problematic again in this issue. For example, page 4, panel 4, should have been awesome, as Reb fires his Burp Gun as the Nazis are firing a mortar, but I can't tell what the heck is happening in the frame. A round appears to fly through the mortar without impacting it, and Reb's dialogue bubble comes from a completely different direction than the round. Then, on page 12, the defense attorney gets the weirdest four panels of sulking at the witness, constantly moving closer to him in the most creepy and unnecessary of ways, finally looking like he's going to kiss him. And, by page 17, the prosecuting attorney's features change so drastically between panels that the colorist mistakes him for two separate characters and attempts to better distinguish them from one another by giving them different colored hair. I never thought I'd live to see the day I'd say this, but I'm getting real tired of Jack's pencils on this book.
The minor details:
- Doodle-Bugs: what nasty weapons. How were they operated? I'm assuming the Nazis did not have the technology to operate them by remote.
- Fury reads their new orders over the course of two panels. In the first, they are getting into a car. In the second, Fury is still explaining the orders as if no time has passed, and yet they are already at the destination stated in the orders.
- Another tattered Nazi flag in the Howlers' bunker. I guess these really were war trophies to them or something.
- Gotta love Gabe blowing his horn just to rumble with McGiveney and his men. It's always all-out-war or nothing with the Howlers; no inbetween.
- On page 21, we'll see that Fury's Court-Martial was happening within running distance of the guardhouse where the Howlers were being detained for brawling, yet the Howlers hear the air raid siren on page 17, and it doesn't sound "at the site of the court martial" until page 19.
- Both the guard house and the site of the court martial are bombed, and yet Dino is the only Howler who walks away even slightly injured, even while virtually everyone else around them who isn't critical to the trial appears dead or severely injured.
- So Fury made a deal with a captured German Officer in order to get information from him that he never bothered to report to anyone, even a week after learning it? Surely, the entire mission Fury risked his career to stop never would have been ordered had Nick actually reported what he'd learned about the trap. What if he hadn't been sent on that mission? An entire platoon of men would have died needlessly because he neglected to share the intel he bargained so hard to learn.
- Can a German prisoner's word really be enough to save someone in a Court Martial? Fury's lawyer seems convinced that the case is won and it's all formality now, but I would expect some serious fact-checking before a military court would just take the guy's word and close the entire case on that alone.
The plot summary in one sentence: The Howlers are assigned to help the French Resistance in a raid, Fury randomly tries to stop the raid at the last moment, striking his commanding officer when he won't listen, they are bombed, Fury loses his memory and faces a court martial for his unexplained actions, info is provided about his past, the Howlers tussle with Sgt. McGiveney (who is maligning Fury behind his back), the Germans bomb the camp causing Fury to regain his memory, and he's able to provide a German Officer prisoner as a witness, proving that he had been trying to prevent the troops from walking into a trap.
A decent issue, overall. Not the hallmark levels of action, intensity, humor, nor boundary pushing I've come to expect from this title.