Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Fightin' 5 Reports #3

Fightin' Five Volume 2 #30 is dated December, 1964 and sports a very dramatic Dick Giordano cover. The lead story was written by Joe Gill and drawn by Bill Montes and Ernie Bache, and whole shebang was edited by Pat Masulli.

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 Ransom of 'Big-D'" begins when three members of the Fightin' 5 run into problems with products manufactured by General Dynamoters Ltd., a huge firm responsible for much of the equipment produced in the United States. Called "Big D" by most folks, this is a corporation which has touched the lives of most everyone on the planet. Trouble starts when Hank Hennessy, leader of the F5 and his girlfried Bridget Darbot find the new sports car he's bought is unreliable and causes them to wreck. Hank is hurt a little and Darbot is hosptialized. Meanwhile Irv "The Nerve" Haganah is testing a parachute that fails to perform but he saves himself barely. Also Granite Gallero runs into trouble with a tank he's testing which fails dramatically. All three members share notes and realize something must be wrong at "Big D". Hank is a stockholder, so on that pretext they gather the team (Frenchy the Fox and Tom-Tom) and plan to infiltrate the mammoth plant to find out what's the issue. But they are intercepted by a "Big D" jet when they approach the plant.

"The Decadent Democracy" is a one-page story drawn by Bill Molno which showcases a drama at the Berlin Wall when an American, derided as soft helps a girl escape then also he guard who failed to stop her.

"The Big-D Battlerground" picks up the action as the jet attacks the Fightin' 5 but is repelled when they switch on their electronic force field. They shoot down the jet and the pilot ejects. On the ground, Hank and Granite drive through the main gate while Irv, Frenchy, and Tom-Tom inflitrate the plant using the underground sewer systems. Hank and Granite bluff and force their way into a board meeting where they encounter Mr.Luckens, a well-known gangster and and his henchmen who have blackmailed their way into control of the mammoth company. Luckens tries to have the two heroes killed and put aboard a rocket which will dispose of their bodies by taking them into orbit.

"The Indian Wars" is a two-page text article detailing the battles the United States government has had with the various Indian tribes over the decades, with a particular emphasis on military tactics.

"The Instant Army" drawn by Bill Molno is a one-page story about how the U.S. military has changed and become much more mobile thanks to air support like troop transports and helicopters.

"Stolen Empire" begins when Frenchy, Irv, and Tom-Tom attack the "Big-D" plant and save Hank and Granite from being shot into orbit. Then the combined might of the Fightin' 5 battle the forces of the gangsters who have taken over Big D forcing Luckens to escape in a bomber. He plans to drop an atomic bomb on the plant eliminating his enemies but is shot down by Hank in his jet fighter. The gangsters are gathered up and arrested and authorities promise Hank that things will get back to normal at General Dynamotors and even offer him a new sports car.

"The Phantom of the Sahara" is a three-page story drawn by Bill Molno which offers a rather glowing reprise of the career of Nazi Field Marshall Rommell.

The comic was reprinted in Fightin' 5 Volume 3 #44 dated February, 1982.

I found this story very timely given the relatively recent scandals rocking the clear inspiration for "Big D", General Motors. It would be nice on some level to think the nigh-criminal neglect and cover ups which have been going at GM were in fact the result of the company having been taken over by gangsters, but alas it's sadly true they result from mere businessmen looking out for profits in the nearest quarterly report. Greed pure and simple and not out and out gangster-style criminality, though sometimes the difference is hard to detect.

This is a solid Fightin' 5 adventure, well written and well drawn by Montes and Bache who do a much better job on the storytelling in this one. Hank has emerged as the dominant member of the team, his wealth giving them access to places they'd be hard pressed to access otherwise. Their status apart from the United States government is somewhat in play here, as they seemed to pick their own mission with little consultation with the authorities.

More to come.

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