Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Marvels: Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #7

"The Court-Martial of Sgt. Fury" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & George Roussos
(May 1964)

It's been a great run of war stories for Sgt. Fury, but this is the first one that I didn't feel quite so involved in. Oh, it has a lot of the same fun and humor as the previous six, but I didn't find the story of Fury's court-martial that suspenseful. I think it's probably because the story was told in such a linear fashion that the outcome never really seemed in doubt to me.

Fury's on trial for insubordination and assaulting a superior officer, something we saw him do. We don't know why he did it, but come on, seven issues in, you know there's a reason. Stan & Jack drag this out by giving Fury temporary amnesia.

The officer that Fury struck was First Lieutenant Spencer Parker, an old schoolmate of Fury's who was working with a French Underground force. Their mission: to blow up a Nazi ammo depot. But at the last minute, Fury tries to stop Parker. Parker won't listen, so Fury punches him out, and then a Messerschmitt does a strafing run, things explode, and suddenly Fury's waking up in the hospital with his memories fried. He just doesn't remember why he punched Parker.

The prosecution keeps trying to work the angle that because Fury, a non-com, and Parker, an officer, went to school together, there must be some kind of rivalry or jealousy at play. But when questioned, Parker admits that he admires Fury and wishes he could be more like him. He quickly recovers and points out, correctly, that this has nothing to do with Fury's insubordination.

The trial is eventually interrupted by a Luftwaffe air strike, which manages to hit the building where the proceedings are, er, proceeding. According to the laws of cartoon injuries, when the accident that causes the injury is replicated, the effects of the injury are reversed, so Fury instantly gets his memories back. Apparently, he knew that the ammo depot was a fake, a trap set for the French Underground, and Lt. Parker was just too eager to listen. A German prisoner named Otto Shmidt confirms the existence of the trap, and everything goes back to what it was. Status quo restored.

Stray observations:

:: For a second, I thought we were finally going to have the first issue where Gabe Jones is consistently colored correctly. Turns out no. Still appears as an occasional Caucasian. And even when he is African-American, he still looks grey. Can we make this man the right color, please?

:: "Remain in France? Don't those lunkheads at HQ know this place is crawlin' with Nazis??!" "Tell it to the chaplain, Fury!"

:: "You went to school, Sarge??!!" "Who was his teacher--King Kong??"

:: This is the first time we see any of Fury's past before the war. According to Parker, he was from the wrong side of the tracks and got in a lot of fights. He was an orphan and got in a lot of trouble until Lewis Hargrove, a priest currently serving as an Army chaplain, taught him how to box. If this were a movie, Bing Crosby would probably play the chaplain.

:: While the trial is going on, Dum-Dum Dugan is put in command of the Howling Commandos, but his heart's not really in it. (Boy, seven issues, and this is the second time now that Dum-Dum's replaced Fury.) They blow off steam by heading to another barracks and getting in a brawl with Sgt. Bull McGiveney and his men; apparently Bull's been telling the camp that Fury's finally getting what's coming to him, and the Howlers don't take that very well. (Dum-Dum actually busts in through the wall.)

Like I said, it's not a bad issue at all, it's just not suspenseful and it feels a little... routine. We'll see what happens next issue, which brings new regular penciler Dick Ayers aboard, and which promises to introduce a replacement for the late Junior Juniper.

Next Marvels: the Human Torch meets the Iceman.

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