Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #21-23
Issue(s): Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #21, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #22, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #23
Issue #21 has the Howlers heading into occupied Czechoslovakia to rescue the daughter of an Allied scientist from a prison camp ("Dotschwitz").
From there they make their way to occupied France, where they help out some French Resistance fighters...
...and then make it all the way into Paris, take over the Ministry of Propaganda...
...and send out a message requesting a lift home.
The issue ends with the Howlers re-starting a fight with Bull McGiveney that began before they left for Czechoslovakia.
Issue #22 also begins with a fight with McGiveney, although i don't think it's a continuation of the previous fight.
But instead of McGiveney just being a comic relief character, for this issue his squad is sent out alongside the Commandos to participate in Operation Tidal Wave: The Raid on Ploesti (in real life, this operation in Romania took place in August 1943 but i've stopped trying to make sense of the Howling Commando historical chronology).
And it's nice to see McGiveney teaming up with Fury in a "rivals work together" sort of plot.
But at the same time, since it depicts McGiveney's team as nearly as super-competent as the Howlers, it adds to the "how the hell did the Allies not win the war in weeks?" complaint.
Despite the relative prominence of Bull McGiveney in this series, he doesn't have any appearances outside of the Sgy. Fury book.
Strucker's Blitzkrieg Squad make a late appearance in this issue...
...and they are as disappointing as they've been in past appearances.
Issue #22 has a cameo by Lee & Ayers.
In that issue, Stan also gets in one of his bizarre "sloppy seconds" lines, especially awful coming from Percy.
On the topic of Percy's supposed homosexuality, the plot of issue #23, which takes the globe-trotting Howlers to the China-Burma-India theatre of war...
...focuses on Pinkerton's backstory, and it shows that Percy was a noble delinquent, too concerned with "pretty girls" and other distractions to do well in school.
This led him to be get kicked out of the military academy. He signed up with the Howling Commandos to redeem himself. His brother, one of the Burma Dragons, tells Percy that his family is proud of the name he made for himself with the Howlers.
And that's pretty much it for my Essentials trade (except for the Korean War annual, covered separately). The series starts off pretty fun once you accept that these aren't serious war stories (due to my Marvel myopia, i don't know how these stories compare to, say, Sgt. Rock or the Blackhawks). It does get a little tedious and repetitive after a while, especially when reading 23 in a row in black & white format. I don't know how the series managed to keep running until 1974 (actually the series ran until 1981, but it became all reprints with issue #121; even prior to that it alternated reprints and new material beginning around issue #80). For my purposes i've seen about as much as i feel like i need to; from here on out i'll just cover where significant characters or events are introduced. Stan Lee wrote the series only for another half year or so, and then Roy Thomas took over. With issue #41 Gary Friedrich took over, and i understand he gave the series a more serious tone, which might be interesting to investigate, but if it's anything like Friedrich's Captain Savage, "more serious" is very much a relative state.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: Essential Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos
Inbound References (1): showBaron Von Strucker, Bull McGiveney, Dino Manelli, Dum Dum Dugan, Ernst Mueller, Fritz von Sydow, Gabriel Jones, Izzy Cohen, Jacques Dernier, Ludwig, Manfred Adler, Nick Fury, Otto Rabe, Percy Pinkerton, Reb Ralston, Sam 'Happy Sam' Sawyer, Siegfried Farber
Sgt. Rock at this time tended to be a wash; excellent art from Joe Kubert, but stories from writer/editor Bob Kanigher along the lines of "The Talking Guns of Easy Co.!". Blackhawk in the Golden Age was far superior in stories and art. But at this point in DC history? Don't ask...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 21, 2012 4:27 PM
Sgt. Rock was far more serious in tone with the occasional escapism thrown such as a crossover with the Viking Prince and a story comparing Rock's attempt at survival by himself with a caveman' struggle to survive. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Drummond about Robert Kanigher's writing. Although he's right about the Golden Age Blackhawk.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 17, 2016 6:18 PM
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