On this Veterans Day, I thought it fitting for #WarComicsMonth I’d spotlight Marvel Comic’s greatest military man, Sgt. Fury! Yes, kids, before he was a super spy, and head of S.H.I.E.L.D., he was a bad man serving in the United States military! Now he’s portrayed as more of a thinker that’s reserved and doesn’t soil his hands in physical combat, but back in WWII, he could kick butt like no other (well, except maybe Captain America of course).
In this over-sized issue, we get two stories to sink our teeth into! The first, “Armageddon (from Sgt. Fury 29, 1966),” shows our man Fury, and his seemingly never-ending battle with his arch nemesis Baron Strucker! These two men have been all but equals over the years (with Fury almost always getting the upper hand of course), and the disdain for each other is at full capacity! Written by Roy Thomas, with art by Dick Ayers (pencils), and John Tartaglione (inks). Then, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos must face “The Incident in Italy!” This one must’ve been a fan favorite, as it’s been reprinted at least twice (originally published in Sgt. Fury 30, 1966)! The same creative team brought that one to life as the previous issue (and the cover to this issue as well!). Both tales were edited by Stan Lee and lettered by Sam Rosen!
During the 1970s, there were a few different things that were hot commodities. In comics, one of them for sure was horror. Vampires, monsters, demons, mummies, witches, and of course, werewolves! In 1972, Marvel decided to create their own werewolf character that would be not only a creature of destruction, but one of tragedy as well. Jack Russell would turn twenty-one years old, and turn into a werewolf under a full moon from here on out.
Early on, the book centered around Jack trying to figure out why this happened to him. He very quickly realized that a certain book was involved, and that unless he finds The Darkhold, he may never get any answers. In what’s basically a werewolf dropped in the middle of the Island of Dr. Moreau, Jack is confronted by a strange island full of surprises, and by the end of the issue, he’ll be between a rock and a hard place.
In this early second age of horror for Marvel comics, Gerry Conway (writer) is one of the men that was tasked with writing these titles off and on (between his epic Spider-Man run and other superhero titles as well). Not to belittle Conway’s efforts, but Mike Ploog (cover and interior art) was outstanding during this period with his horror work. He had runs on this title/character, Monster of Frankenstein, Man-Thing, and Ghost Rider, and they were all exquisite. The creative team is rounded out by veteran Sam Rosen (letters).
*Note- there was also a lot of input on the early issues of the horror books by Writer/Editor Roy Thomas, and he definitely deserves credit as well.
Although there’s no specific reference in the comic book itself, Marvel Spotlight #4 (1972) is definitely an homage to the H.G. Wells book “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” That fantastic story has been adapted to the big screen a few times, with varying results, but in this case, it was a resounding success. The issue is only the third appearance of this character (Jack Russell/ the werewolf), and his supporting cast, but you already feel attached to him and his troubled life even in that short amount of time. The story follows Jack to an island, almost like the very same one in the Wells book.
If there was ever any doubt about the talent of Gerry Conway (and just for Spider-Man, there shouldn’t be), read his horror work, and you’ll be hard-pressed to not be impressed by his work. As if that wasn’t enough of a selling point, you get the absolutely eerie artwork of Mike Ploog, that is nothing short of a visual feast! Toss in the letters of comic book mainstay, Sam Rosen, and you’ve got one heckuva comic book!
As we all know, Daredevil has had some ups and downs over the years as far as sales are concerned. But honestly, the ups far outweigh the downs, especially when you look at some of the off the wall things Marvel was doing with the character during the Bronze Age. Lets face it, the creative teams changed often, and the quality suffered for a while, but personally, the crazy stories are a hoot, and should be looked at as more of a lark anyway. This was the only Giant-Size book for DD, even though most of the titles in that decade had more, and it was actually a reprint of Annual #1. The Emissaries of Evil were a rag-tag group of villains, led by Electro (also including Frog Man, Gladiator, Stilt Man, and The Matador), and offered very little trouble for Daredevil!
The story was written by Stan Lee, but the visuals told in this story, and the pin-up pages, were the real treat in this issue. Gene “The Dean” Colan, was at his best, and really gave us something to see. The inks were by John Tartaglione, who did an admirable job over Gene’s pencil work. The letters were provided by the always reliable Sam Rosen, and you know he could be counted on to get the job done! Not to be outdone, is legendary artist, Gil Kane, who provided the great cover! Enjoy!
As we can still see Veterans Day (Remembrance Day also) in our rear-view mirror, I thought it would be cool to throw out a military comic, in honor of all those who have served. What better way to celebrate, than to spotlight Nick Fury and his band of brothers! If you like military comics, this is the one for you. Fury, by himself is a great character, but when you throw in the other commandos, you get a wild bunch that is very entertaining. Whether it’s Dum Dum Dugan, Pinky Pinkerton, or Gabe Jones, you get a fantastic mix of personalities in this book for sure!
In this reprint of Sgt. Fury #19 (1965), we get a solid story from Stan Lee, wonderful pencils by Dick Ayers (RIP), inks by Frank Ray (Giacoia), and letters by Sam Rosen! The original cover was by Jack ‘King’ Kirby, but this one looks to have been touched up by someone else. Dugan looks like Frank Robbins work to me personally, but take that with a grain of salt, because I’m not very good at recognizing art styles. Well, anyways, take a look at some of the finest war comics the back issue bins has to offer!