Friday, August 8, 2014

The Fightin' 5 Reports #8

Fightin' Five Volume 2 #35 was dated November, 1965. Edited by Pat Masulli and written by Joe Gill, this issue was drawn by the team of Bill Montes and Ernie Bache. The cover is by Montes and inked 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.

"Green Death in Vietnam" begins with some information on the nature of the struggle between the Viet Cong and the South Vietnamese government assisted at the time by the United States. The Fightin' 5 are training in their headquarters, specifically using the M16 rifle. They get a call from a General in the U.S. military who orders the team to go to Vietnam and deal with a particular Viet Cong leader named Chu. Hank was serving in Vietnam before he was tapped to lead the Fightin' 5 and he is quite up to date on the problem. The team fly to Southeast Asia on a Convair B-58 and report to Major Harry Becker who knows Hank. While the regular forces will continue to battle the Viet Cong on the military front, the Fightin' 5 are given the specific mission to undermine the charm of Chu and render him powerless. The fly into the bush and immediately engage in a deadly firefight which reports of make Chu quite angry. He leads his forces in a stealth attack using reeds to breathe underwater to hide their approach as they take over a local village. The Fightin' 5 story continues as the team use a jet belt to reconnoiter after they come across the attacked village. and find Chu's forces.

"Danger and Delicatessen" is a one-page story about Sgt.John Hailler who is part of the Quartermaster Dept. and while visitng a local delicatessen finds a man who is eager to defect. He takes great pains to accomplish this and later is rewarded when he finally gets his food.

"Part 2 A Legend Dies" begins with the Hank leading a counter-attack against Chu's forces. It causes the leader to retreat and lose considerable face when he runs out. Later the team build a raft to follow Chu down river and eventually locate his base of operations. After infiltrating his base Irv the Nerve and Frenchy blow up his munitions. While they use their skills to destroy Chu's communications and infrastructure Hank challenges Chu to hand-to-hand battle. Hank wins the duel and Tom-Tom dumps the humiliated and diminished Viet Cong leader into a puddle. Having accomplished their mission the Fightin' 5 report to their superiors and prepare to return home.

"The Green Badge of Courge" is a three-page story illustrated by Ernie Bache which details the skills and training of the United States Special Forces soldier and suggest this type of warrior is the future of warfare.

This issue was reprinted in Fightin' 5 Volume 4 #47 dated August 1982.

Charlton was one of the very few comics companies that set stories in Vietnam during the actual war itself. Other war comics were set comfortably in the remote and heroic World War II. Vietnam was still pretty controversial. But at Charlton the war was real, at least as real as any war gets in comics.

More to come.

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