Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Fightin' 5 Reports #9

Fighitn' Five Volume 2 #36 is dated January, 1966. Edited by Pat Masulli and written as always by the iron man Joe Gill, this issue featured Rocco "Rocke" Mastroserio not only on the covers which he'd inked and drawn for a few issues, but on the interiors as well giving the Montes and Bache team a break.

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.

"Part 1 Hidden Empire" introduces Dr.Hubert Nijus, a world-famous scientist focused on oceanography. We meet Nijus as he is meeting with one of his volunteers, one of many young men, and he gives the willing subject a pill which is designed to enable the terrestrial human the ability to function for long periods underwater. We see other volunteers who have progressed farther along who have actually developed fins on their bald heads and a purple color to their skin. The United States government is concerned and sends J.D. Leonard of Special Section to investigate. He finds Nijus and sees a "Fin Man" but before he can take Nijus captive, he is captured, taken in a tube to an underwater complex Nijus has built on the bottom of the ocean. When Leonard does not report the government contacts the Fightin' 5 to take a look. They fly and meet a man named Basil, the Chief of Special Section to get the details. Meanwhile a scientist leaves their meeting and makes his way through a hidden trapdoor into the water ultimately riding a powered sled to report to Nijus.

"The Strongsword" is a one-page text story about a Saxon named Edward who flees his homeland after the arrival of William the Conqueror and finds his way to Japan by way of China where a Japanese warlord named Yoritomo is much impressed by his large and powerful sword. He is made a samurai and helps them in a number of ways, specifically tactically in battling other clans and is given the named Kyianoto.

"Part 2 City of Missing Men" picks up the action when the Fightin' 5 reveal they saw lab assistant leave and follow him into the depths using their scuba equipment. They are soon attacked by Fin Men using sharks as weapons. The Fin Men then capture Hank, Granite, Irv the Nerve, and Tom-Tom in a net and take them to Nijus. Frenchy the Fox escapes but maintains radio contact with Hank. Nijus boast of his ability to turn men into his undersea servants and shows off his vast complex including submarines he has developed to deliver atomic weapons he has built. He then takes Hank and begins the transformation process on him.

"Part 3 The Fishy 5" sees Tom-Tom and the other captured Fightn' 5 members get the Fin Man treatment, but they seemed relatively unconcerned. Meanwhile Frenchy has located the powerhouse for the undersea city and blows it up. The seemingly transformed Fightin' 5, still using their scuba gear to ease their transition approach various of the Fin Men and offer them a cure for the Nijus treatments. Some agree and some don't. A battle erupts when Frenchy returns. Dr.Nijus fearing defeat runs into his base and blows it up, killing himself. After his death, all the Fin Men accept the cure and they head for the surface.

"The Treasure Pirates" is a three-page story by unknown talents which talks about how scuba gear has made treasure hunting of old sea wrecks much easier. Sadly pirates still are on the prowl for successful hunters and the story shows how they take the prize only to find themselves later held at gunpoint by the savvy hunter.

The comic was reprinted in Fightin' 5 Volume 4 #48 dated December, 1982. The cover is somewhat altered and notably the distinctive purple color of the Fin Men is dropped in this reprint. The treasure hunt story is also reprinted but the text story is changed to "Expendable Except", a yarn about an O.S.S. mission to rescue a scientist and his daughter during WWII.

While there have been a few high-tech details in the Fightin' 5 stories to this point, mostly the use of jet belts, this is the first story which could be categorized as a pure science fiction adventure. It was a interesting turn after the rather gritty story from the previous issue. 

More to come.

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