Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #29
Issue(s): Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #29
This issue begins with Fury and Strucker in stand-off. Strucker has been ordered by Hitler to blow up the French town of Cherbeaux, and his hand is on the detonation switch. Fury has his finger on the trigger of a more localized explosive that will blow up Strucker and himself.
The only thing is that Fury is bluffing; the Howlers did not actually have time to set up their explosives. Fury manages to negotiate an evacuation of Cherbeaux in return for a one on one battle to settle their differences. Strucker is very interested in fighting Fury, and also surprisingly unhappy about Hitler's orders to kill unarmed civilians.
After the evacuation, Fury reveals that he's been bluffing, and he and the Commandos do battle with the Nazis. The Commandos are aided by the French Resistance, who have disguised themselves in Nazi uniforms.
Strucker triggers the explosion to try to kill the Howlers, not worried about sacrificing Nazis in the process. One of Strucker's officers tries to resist him, but Strucker kills him.
Then Strucker and Fury get to fist fighting.
Meanwhile, another Nazi auditions for most German catch-phrases in a single panel.
And Gabe Jones puts his New York driving skills to use.
When the car crashes, the Howlers risk drowing in word balloons as much as in the water.
I dunno, there's at least two whole characters in that panel whose thoughts we don't get to see and there's still a little bit of art left to cover up.
Fury has the better of Strucker...
...and nearly knocks him over the side of the building.
Fury earns no points in saving him.
Strucker is thought dead at the end, but we're shown that he's still alive. He is, however, disgraced because he let his personal feelings overshadow his allegiance to the Nazis. Not even the end of World War II will save Nick Fury, though (Strucker will appear for the first time in the modern era in Strange Tales #156).
There's no going back for Strucker, because Hitler declares Strucker an enemy of the Reich.
Strucker will appear in this series again, in issues #112 & 114.
Captain Savage, still being referred to as "Skipper", makes a brief appearance at the end of the issue.
That's interesting because Capt. Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders #2-4, published two years from now, follow up on this story by showing what Strucker has done since leaving the Nazis (namely forming Hydra).
A lot about this story is very silly, including the basic premise that Strucker would go against his orders just so he could have a fist fight with Fury. And Roy Thomas' characteristic wordiness is in full effect, as is his Stan Lee emulation (something that was probably necessary since Stan Lee had developed a following for his unique voice at Marvel). But it was brave to write Strucker, pretty much Fury's only repeat villain, out of the series. Whether that was Thomas or Lee's idea, i don't know. But it was a risk to let this series continue without its main villain. And the idea that Strucker is not quite the monster that Hitler is shows an attempt at characterization. I've never really seen Strucker as a guy that wouldn't kill unarmed civilians, especially in a war situation. I mean he's already a Nazi ally. So the characterization doesn't really work for me. But i still think it's interesting to see that distinction being drawn.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place before Capt. Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders #2.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBaron Von Strucker, Captain Savage, Dino Manelli, Dum Dum Dugan, Gabriel Jones, Hate Monger (Hitler), Izzy Cohen, Nick Fury, Percy Pinkerton, Reb Ralston, Sam 'Happy Sam' Sawyer
This isn't the only time that Strucker displays a reluctance to kill civilians. In Daredevil 298-300, Matt deliberately engineers a conflict between Strucker and the Kingpin. Luckily, nobody innocent is killed since before destroying the Kingpin's properties, Strucker is careful to evacuate all civilians. At the time I thought this way a cheap way for Matt to score a win over the Kingpin and do something "edgy" without any civilians being killed (and I still do). But now I'm wondering if it was also a reference to this story. The problem with Strucker's reluctance to harm civilians in those stories is that they contradict with just about every other Strucker story. In issue 5 of the 1990 SHIELD series, Strucker is revealed to have massacred the population of an entire village. He threatened all the nations with the Death Spore virus in Strange Tales 156-158. Even in this story, he shows no compunction about killing his own men to get revenge on Fury.
Posted by: Michael | August 10, 2015 7:51 PM
As with a number of other Marvel villains who have been around for several decades and who have been written by numerous different writers, Baron Strucker's characterization has varied somewhat from story to story. Half the time he is written as a dyed in the wool racist Nazi. The other half Strucker is depicted as more of a generic fascist who still thinks he's better than everyone else but who looks at Hitler as a mad imbecile who let the opportunity to win World War II slip through his fingers.
I suppose you could explain away Strucker's occasional reluctance to kill civilians as a sort of very twisted pragmatism. He obviously has no problem plotting terrorist acts that will result in horrible losses of life so long as there is some sort of strategic objective that he perceives will be achieved. But he isn't going to start murdering innocent bystanders without good reason. Perhaps Strucker uses this as a self-rationalization to explain how he is a "better" person than Hitler or the Red Skull, the later of whom is absolutely a sadistic sociopath.
Maybe it's an example of the trope "even evil has standards." On the other hand, it could be what was pointed out in the Doctor Who episode "Boom Town." When his Slitheen adversary argues that she isn't all-bad because she spared the life of a pregnant woman, the Doctor responds "You let one of them go, but that's nothing new. Every now and then a little victim is spared because she smiled, 'cause he's got freckles, 'cause they begged...and that's how you live with yourself. That's how you slaughter millions, because once in a while, on a whim, if the wind's in the right direction, you happen to be kind."
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 10, 2015 9:09 PM
#29 which you did not cover concerns the Howlers saving a group of resistance fighters from the firing squad
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 17, 2016 7:28 PM
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