Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fightin' 5 Reports #11

Fightin' Five Volume 2 #38 is dated July 1966. The issue was edited by Pat Masulli and written by Joe Gill. The art as usual was by Bill Montes and Ernie Bache. The cover was was done by Rocke Mastroserio.

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.

"The Plans of S.A.T.A.N." begin with an introduction to the organization S.A.T.A.N. (the meaning of the letters is never revealed but I think of them as Sabotage, Arson, and Terrorism According to Nico) and its leader, a former WWII double agent named Nico. The story begins when the Fightin' 5 defeat, they think, a Communist plot for smuggling but find themselves ambushed by Nico (dressed in a devilish costume and using a trident with electric rays) and agents of S.A.T.A.N. They are not killed but given a warning to stay out future dealings with the terrorist gang. When they recover Hank and the rest immediately begin tracking the terrorists and describe how Nico was both effective as an agent for the Allies and the Nazis.  Nico explains his plan to his men and sends bombers to the Riviera aboard secret submarines and on motorcycles. These explosions draw the Fightin'5 to Monaco while Nico and his men use a fake subway train to infiltrate the New York Stock Exchange where they force the employees to give them access to the wealth there. Their escape is masked by the use of the fake subway car which is confronted by the military while the gang use a helicopter disguised as a tour ride to leave town. The Fightin' 5 realize they've been decoyed.

"American Ingenuity" is a one-page text piece which talks about how U.S. troops in Vietnam have to use their wits to fight effectively, specifically the use of metal soles in shoes to avoid spikes and the use of hatchets to better wage hand-to-hand warfare in the dense jungles.

"Planned Disaster" begins with the Fightin' 5 being blown up by one more charge in Monaco. They recover, regroup and try to anticipate Nico's next move. The demonic leader reveals to his men a triple-prong attack against Venice, Berlin, and Marseilles. Knowing Nico's flair for the dramatic, Hank plays a hunch he will truly attack the canals of Venice and the team heads there aboard their jet bomber. Using his submarines and a small army of sharks Nico prepares to loot Venice. First a tanker spills fuel into the water of the canals and then it lit afire.

"City in Flames" sees the Fightin' 5 in scuba gear descending into the canals of Venice to confront Nico and finding mines and sharks. They fight their way through and confront the S.A.T.A.N. forces who are busy looting the various museums of the area. Nico tries to stun the team again with his pitchfork, but they are prepared and fake him out by only pretending to fall prey to it. When he and his men have left Hank and the other members regroup and counter attack eventually defeating Nico's forces. Nico himself leaps into the canals to escape but is surrounded by sharks. His fate is unknown as the story ends.

"Man to Man" is a three-page story written by Joe Gill and drawn by Montes and Bache which shows how United States troops must alter their tactics to be effective in Vietnam by adopting a more individualized and stealthy approach to warfare.

The issue is reprinted in Fightin'5 Volume 4 #49 dated December, 1982, the final regular issue of the run. The text page is missing and the "Man to Man" is replaced by "The Enemy", a WWII story about PFC Billy Trent learning to deal with the greatest enemy a soldier has to battle, even in the Pacific Theater, fear. The art for this story is in my estimation by the "Nicholas Alascia" team. Note how the devilish face of Nico has been removed from this version of the cover.

A version of the cover was used on 1998's The Power of Five from ACG.

And the lead story appeared in 2000's Heroes Ink #1 from ACG.

This is the second straight Fightin' 5 adventure which as the team battling enemies in jaunty jumpsuits. Unfortunately like most old-fashioned artists, Mones and Bache are much better at drawing actual people in realistic clothes than in super-suits. This tendency makes Nico and his henchmen look like what they are, men in costumes which often look somewhat silly. Modern artists often have the reverse problem, less able to draw realistic clothes than costumes.

The series came to a final end after its 1981 revival, sadly before all of the Fightin' 5 stories could be reprinted. We'll take a look at the last several. As always, more to come.

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  1. Really hoping there is a nice Fightin’ Five collection released some day by somebody. I’d love to get my hands on these – as tracking down the originals may not ever be cost effective for me. 1,000 Thank You’s Rip Jagger for these fine summaries - along with the original covers…That #38 (July 1966) really is a beaut of a cover…

    1. I'd love to get a F5 volume, but I don't hold my breath. I used Mile High Comics to assemble the last few issues I needed a few years ago. As good as the back issue sources are around me, I never saw some of these. Some of the books I got were reading copies only, pretty rough, but good enough. I'd like to improve some of them if I get the chance.

      Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying these reports. I like to do them because it forces me to read closely.

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