Marvel Fanfare #16-17 (Sky-Wolves)
Issue(s): Marvel Fanfare #16, Marvel Fanfare #17 (Sky-Wolves story only)
So why is the story ridiculous? Well, to be clear, it's awesomely ridiculous. But the reason it's ridiculous is the super-technology that's involved. For example, here is Lobo II, the most advanced super-submarine in the world.
Then we have the Flapjacks, special jet flying saucers with VTOL capabilities.
And you'll notice that Sidney Levine is identified as a special effects expert. Here's the sort of stuff he's capable of.
With technology like this, you'd have to wonder why the Sky-Wolves didn't just win World War II for America in a matter of days. But you didn't take into account - and for the safety of your screen i hope you are not drinking anything at the moment - The Flying Fuhrer.
You gotta love the relative stoicism of the villagers in that first scan. First they rape and pillage us, and now we have to deal with a giant floating Hitler? Really? Haven't they done enough?!
I have to cop to the fact that the Flying Fuhrer turns out to be suspended from a blimp, but he's still a giant mechanical floating Hitler that shoots rockets from his hand.
There's also floating sky mines...
...and a Steel Kommando that would put early Iron Man to shame.
All of the above would be fine (well, i guess "fine" is never the right way to describe a Flying Hitler Death Machine) if this story were set in its own continuity. But Sidney Levine later becomes SHIELD's Gaffer, so this is meant to take place in the Marvel universe, and the type of technology on display here does not fit well with what we've seen in Golden Age comics or even the Invaders series. It's also kind of weird that all this tech is on display but the plot of the story involves ensuring that the Germans don't get their hands on blueprints for a mundane (by these standards) jet plane.
The story is that industrialist Matt Slade (World War I vet and son of the Western hero Matt Slade; no relation as far as i know to the line of Slades that produced the Night/Ghost/Phantom Riders), has offered to pay $10,000 apiece to Skyler Wolf, Jesse "Little John" Johns, and Sidney Levine to either rescue his son or, failing that, kill him so that he can't provide the jet blueprints to the Nazis.
Together, the good guys become the Sky-Wolves...
...although the others object to that name.
The villain of the story is General Dieter Skul...
...whose daughter Gretychyn is an early Princess Leia prototype.
She hasn't gotten the Leia hair quite right, though. She's got a third bun in the back.
The Sky-Wolves stage their rescue and bring back Matt the younger as well as Gretchyn, who turns out to be a dirty Ratzi spy. I'd say that we should have known all along that Gretchyn was a spy due to her evil facial expressions...
...but that's just what everybody looks like.
Gretchyn winds up getting killed when she escapes...
...and tries to return to her father in a Flapjack while Levine is using his special effects abilities to make the sky look like it is full of them, so the father winds up shooting the daughter down. But forget about that. What's important here is that it's time to introduce Murder Mountain.
It's certainly a wild story.
As mentioned above, Sidney Levine will return as SHIELD's Gaffer, but the rest of the Sky-Wolves are not, to my knowledge, seen again. It seems that General Dieter Skul was brought back in Howard Chaykin's Avengers 1959 series, though.
It's said in the lettercol for issue #19 that the reaction to this story was pretty negative. "Skywolf probably one of the most controversial thing we've published yet in this magazine, and unfortunately that seemed to make it one of the least popular." One letter writer says:
Skywolf is at best a bad parody of the classic Blackhawk tales. I thought that The Invaders pushed the credibility of World War II a tad, but Skywolf never even gave the reader a chance to get a feel for the time period. I witnessed a 100 foot flying Hitler that sot fireballs from an outstretched hand, and a mountain on wheels rolling over cities.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This story takes place in June, 1940, placing it relatively early during World War II, before official US involvement. These issues also had Sub-Mariner and Hulk back-up stories, placed in separate entries.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
I think we can close our eyes and pretend this issue never happened (in the MU at least)
Posted by: kveto | December 8, 2014 3:35 PM
The Flying Furher must fight the Ameridroid; it would be the greatest battle in comic book history.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 8, 2014 4:14 PM
One major clue that this story was written a few years earlier was that Wolfman is the writer. Wolfman stopped writing for Marvel in 1980.
Posted by: Michael | December 8, 2014 8:49 PM
Yeah, this almost seems like it was originally intended as a tryout in Marvel Spotlight or something, with an acknowledgement that it was too high-tech to have even happened in the Marvel Universe's WWII.
But then at some point they decided to bring in the Gaff and make it a 616 thing. By then, it was too late to remove all of the absurd tech elements.
Just speculating, but that's how I see it. Maybe it's just wishful thinking that somebody at Marvel understood this story was out-of-place.
Posted by: Dan H. | December 8, 2014 9:32 PM
From what I can gather, this story was created to satisfy Wolfman and Cockrum's love for the Blackhawks. However, the story was released years after its creation.
There is a little bit of info here:
Posted by: cullen | December 8, 2014 10:27 PM
Sky Wolf was the name of a Blackhawk-like hero from Hillman's AIR FIGHTERS COMICS. The Heap first appeared in his feature.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | April 27, 2015 1:55 AM
My apologies to Cullen; his second link has that information.
Wolfman provided the plot for the second-last issue of DC'S first BLACKHAWK run, #242, in 1968. Cockrum did some covers for the 80s revival of the title, including a couple (#253 and #261) that have similar elements to the MARVEL FANFARE #17 cover.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | April 27, 2015 6:25 AM
Wow! I'm a huge fan of Dave Cockrum's work, but I've never had an opportunity pick up these issues. This seems like a seriously weird story. Agreed with everyone that it seems difficult to fit into the rest of Marvel's continuity for Word War II because of the insanely high-tech weapons & vehicles. Maybe it took place on Earth WTF.
Posted by: Ben Herman | December 4, 2016 1:09 PM
I'm of the opinion that a lot of the tech seen in this entry was probably a bunch of experimental one-offs gathered together that never really went into mass-production.
Posted by: D09 | March 23, 2017 2:46 AM
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