Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Howlers - Baron Strucker!

The fifth issue of Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos gives Nick Fury his very own arch-enemy. The appearance of Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker makes the book really jump up as he adds that dash of personality to the enemy which had been so abundant among the Allies.

The Nazis have taken note of the the Howling Commandos and especially of their leader Nick Fury and think it would be in their best interests to sabotage his popularity. To that end the order Baron Strucker, a blue-blooded Nazi famous for his fighting prowess to tempt the American to his doom. Strucker does just that with a dramatic strafing run which drops an invitation for Nick to come fight him on an isolated Norwegian island. Fury is anxious to go,but his commander Captain Sam Sawyer firmly denies him permission. Fury disregards and goes to the meeting but is drugged and falls victim to Strucker in a sham sword fight which his filmed by Nazi propagandists.

Returned to London summarily in shame Fury is busted to private by a furious Sawyer and Dum Dum Dugan takes command of the Howlers.

Eventually the squad goes to fight Strucker and Fury is able to redeem himself and defeat the arrogant Nazi and get photos to prove it. He is grudingly returned to his leadership when Sawyer sees that the brass want Fury to have a high profile.

This story was reprinted for the first time in the second Sgt.Fury and Howling Commandos Annual.

Dick Ayers
Jim Steranko
Of course Baron Strucker went on to become one of Fury's most implacable foes, both during World War II and later in the 60's as the hidden extra-secret leader of Hydra in the pages of Strange Tales.

Thomas Kretschman
And personally I found his appearance in the Avengers movies quite good, though far too brief for my tastes. A waste of a really really good villain.

More Lee and Kirby Commando action to come next week.

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  1. In 1965 or so, Marvel ran a house ad picturing the covers of thirteen comics, basically all the superheroes and westerns. Kirby drew all of them except Daredevil and Spider-Man and they were all pretty awesome. Fury #5 was one of them and that may be why it seems so iconic to me; I was just mesmerized by that ad and kept going back to it. There was a golden period when Marvel's covers were just irresistible and Kirby had a lot to do with it, but so did Stan. When he still had his mojo, he really knew how to write the hype to pull you in.

    1. Part of me is envious of those a few years older (or just wiser) who were there for the first several years of the Marvel magic. I came along when Kirby was in decline (waiting to spring to DC) and John Buscema was ascendant alongside Johnny Romita. It's a rich universe but not the same special magic which rolled out month after month in those earliest days.

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  2. Yeah that is the one advantage of being born in 1951,I was just the right age to see these gems come out new back in the 60's. New Kirby and Lee's every week, sigh. Really, it felt like being secretly plugged into a higher power.


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