Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Howlers - Seven Doomed Men!

The second issue of Sgt.Fury and the Howling Commandos is a well-crafted affair by writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, and exciting to boot involving a threat of nuclear detonation. But with all that it still seems a tiny bit redundant. Let me explain.

The First-Attack Squad commonly called "The Howling Commandos" are ordered to infiltrate the German city of Heinemund in which the Nazis are constructing their own version of the Manhattan Project. The mission is to destroy their supply of heavy water and frustrate their eventual construction of an atomic bomb no less. The Howlers go into the country and after some misadventures in which Dum Dum is captured by Nazi forces and Junior Juniper tricks the Nazis into sending them where they want to be with reverse psychology, they are inside a concentration camp from which they promptly escape and discover the railway tank cars filled with heavy water. After much hullabaloo and typical Howler excitement they lead a small revolt and destroy their objective. The labs explode in a mushroom cloud as the team extract themselves for the next mission.

This is an exciting premise, but just having read the debut story, it seemed a bit repetitive. That's an unfair criticism on my part since I didn't allow the two months to pass which a reader in the day would've have enjoyed, allowing this adventure a greater opportunity to feel fresh.

But still I got the impression that this was sort of another take on the debut, a mildly more refined telling. It's actually probably a better more tightly knit yarn than the debut when all is said and done.

The atomic connection certainly gives it a potency and world-shaking quality that a lot of war stories, relatively small tales of men of courage being tested, The reality of the Nazi atomic bomb research falls a bit short of what is suggested in this story but is pretty hair-raising nonetheless.

But there are many more Lee and Kirby Howler missions to go. Another comes up tomorrow.

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