Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Marvels: Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #3

"Midnight on Massacre Mountain!" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
(September 1963)

This issue follows the formula established by the first two issues: Fury and his men complete a mission, have some funny banter on the base, get their assignment, travel to their assignment, and carry out their assignment with some twists, turns, one-liners, and heavy battle scenes. I'm not knocking the formula--it's a good formula, and this issue is as fun as the first two--but it's not leaving me with a lot to say about it.

This issue's mission is to land in Italy and lead a trapped division down from Massacre Mountain (where the Nazis have them holed up) and through a tunnel escape route. At one point, they have to meet up with the OSS for some intel and that's the issue's big cameo: Major Reed Richards.

It lasts about a page and it's really little more than a throwaway (Richards' character could be any person) and a continuity nod (it was established that Reed was in the OSS and fought behind the lines with the French Resistance in Fantastic Four #11), but it does us the favor of definitively establishing that this series takes place in the Marvel Universe. I like, too, that Lee and Kirby--themselves veterans of World War II--put in this extra touch about Reed Richards. It adds a couple of shades to his character. I think later writers sometimes had a tendency to turn Reed into a nerd who was too smart to relate to people normally. But showing him as a vet goes a little way to explaining why he's so driven to create things that improve the quality of life, which increases chances at peace. I just dig that.

The Howlers meet up with the division, but end up walking into a trap. Fury discovers that a reporter embedded with the division is actually a spy for the Waffen SS and everyone manages to fight their way out. While the division is awarded medals, we leave Fury and his crew floating in a rubber raft on a rainy sea, just waiting for their pickup. Such is the commando life.

Stray notes:

:: Gabriel Jones is still given Caucasian skin coloring half the time. Sometimes he just looks ashen gray like they've tried to fix the coloring mistake. Guys, he's black, I know it's 1963, but figure it out.

:: This sergeants's face is magnificent.

Speaking of facial expressions, I also love Fury's in this panel:

Note Dum-Dum making another crack about his wife. What is it with you and girls, Stan?

:: The MP's need to call in a tank to bring in the Howlers after they get in a bar brawl with infantrymen. "Those wild men made Dunkirk seem like a high school prom!"

:: As Major Richards heads back to his work, Sgt. Fury thinks Richards is going to really make something of himself, and Stan reminds that, of course, he's Mr. Fantastic now. Crossovers are a great way to bring attention to a book someone might not be reading. Fury himself will return the favor in a couple of months by appearing (in a much more substantial role) in Fantastic Four #21.

:: Dum-Dum: "Why don't we lob a few grenades at 'em, just so's they don't feel so neglected?" Sometimes you can just hear Stan saying the dialogue.

:: Dino is Italian by birth, and especially incensed at what the Nazis have done to the countryside. He kills the exposed spy "for what he and his kind have done to the land of my birth."

Another strong, fun issue of Sgt. Fury. I didn't have a lot to say about it--there were a lot of intense battle scenes in this one--but that doesn't mean I didn't love it!

Next time: get ready for another crossover, as the Human Torch teams up with Spider-Man!


bliss_infinte said...

It's great that you're pointing out how 'casual' yet effect these early crossovers are in the early days. It must have been something to behold as it was happening. Much like how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unfolding - tentatively at first but full of excitment (Stark showing up in Incredible Hulk and building from there). It must have caused the same excitement that is being felt with these movies. I wouldn't be caught dead with a modern Marvel comic but I wait with baited breath for each Marvel movie. And that's a good thing!

SamuraiFrog said...

I went out to see the new Captain America yesterday, and I just love how the whole MCU is gelling together. Also, some of the name drops got me excited for future films. I kind of feel the same way here, seeing people team up or meet one another for the first time.

Roger Owen Green said...

I THINK I read that Gabe's color was a problem with the printer who thought Marvel had gotten it wrong.

SamuraiFrog said...

I've read that, too. Also that Stan finally had to personally go to the printer and explain to them in no uncertain terms. I'm just surprised how long it's taking to finally get it right; it's only been 3 issues, but it's also been six months. It took them ONE issue to get the Hulk green.