Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Fightin' 5 Reports #10

Fightin' Five Volume 2 #37 is dated April-May 1967. The book was edited by Pat Masulli and written as always by Joe Gill. The regular art team of Bill Montes and Ernie Bache were back after one issue absent from the assignment. And for the first time they supplied the cover art themselves for the comic.

The "5" are Frenchy the Fox, Irv "The Nerve" Haganah, Granite Gallero, Hank Hennessy, and Tom-Tom. Designated according to the first letter of their name, they formed "America's Super Squad" and the word "F.I.G.H.T.", hence Fightin' 5.

"Reign of Evil" begins with a description of Alexander De Groot, a somewhat foppish descendant of European royalty, long deposed and looking to take his vast accumulated wealth and make himself ruler of the world. To that end he as assembled a small army of soldiers all wearing green jumpsuits with the family crest on the chest. Meanwhile the Fightin' 5 are training in their headquarters, specifically testing out a new bulletproof fabric. Hank briefs the team on De Groot who he says is very dangerous and will begin his reign of terror by stealing the old family crown now kept in France. A few days later De Groot does just that, using a helicopter and sleeping gas to pilfer the crown. Grimsby, the CIA liaison for the Fightin 5 arrives at their HQ and gives them the mission to go to Murania (De Groot's small country) and deal with the threat. The team board their B-58 Hustler jet and head to Europe. They are recognized but allowed to penetrate the Muranian border as part of De Groot's scheme to trap them.

"Water Wins a Victory" is a one-page text story about how a man named Peter Rustain gives the Allies critical information about water supplies in the North Africa deserts enabling them to successfully defeat the Nazi commander Rommell.

Part II "Decreed to Die" picks up the action as the Fightin' 5 attack De Groot's castle but they are anticipated and are swiftly captured. But Granite tricks a guard and the team is able to escape using a car to leave the castle full of enemies. A De Groot jet fires on them, but is only able to destroy part of the castle. The team return to their jet and fly away leaving De Groot, the Monarch of Murani to move onto his next plan for world conquest.

"Part III While a City Sleeps" shows how De Groot's forces are able to infiltrate the Paris sewers and send a powerful gas into the air which puts nearly the whole population to sleep. The Fightin' 5 fly into the area and Hank and Frenchy parachute into the slumbering metropolis. Using jet belts they attack De Groot's forces, once again forcing the leader to flee in his helicopter. Meanwhile Granite, Irv the Nerve, and Tom-Tom have dispatched more of De Groot's mercenary force. The whole team regroups and flies again to Murania only to find the De Groot castle has fallen in completely after its earlier damage. De Groot was inside and Hank suggests the petty ruler now has what he long wanted, complete control, but only of ancient ruins and dungeons deep beneath the Earth.

"Sport of Judo" is a three-page story by Frank McLauglin describing in detail two judo throws -- specifically Kata Gurama (Fireman's Throw) and Uchimata (Upper, Inner Thigh Throw). Sarge Steel narrates these instructions.

This comic has never been reprinted to my knowledge. The costumes that De Groot and his men wear seem oddly out of place for a Fightn' 5 adventure, more appropriate for a superhero comic. This is another sign that the series is seeking a big more glamor in its action. The annual notice of publication is included in this issue and suggests that the comic is averaging over 230,000 copies per issue in circulation. Average for the time and a blockbuster run in today's diminished marketplace.

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