“Seven Against the Nazis!”
Cover Date: May 1963
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
What’s Going On?
Back in World War II, a leader in the French Resistance is captured by Nazis. Unfortunately, he knows the date and location of the impending D-Day invasion. It’s up to the first attack squad of Able Company —- also known as the Howling Commandos —- to go behind enemy lines and keep that secret from the Nazis.
Is It Good?
It’s not fantastic, but there is a certain macho charm to this issue. We don’t have the heavy-handed moralizing that accompanies Communist enemies, which makes for an easier read. This is just a small band of tough guys doing tough things and quipping while they reload.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to review this title when I started this blog. It’s a war comic, after all, and I’m trying to focus on Marvel’s Silver Age superhero stuff. Still, there are some future Agents of SHIELD in the cast, and I’ve heard some good things about the “The” issues later in the series. So, sure, I guess I’ll review this title, too.
- All of the adventures in this title will take place in World War II.
- This is the first appearance of Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos: Izzy Cohen, Dum-Dum Dugan, Gabriel Jones, Jonathan “Junior” Juniper, Dino Manelli, and Robert “Rebel” Ralston. Their commanding officer, Captain “Happy Sam” Sawyer, also debuts.
- The Howling Commandos were a racially integrated unit, which is historically inaccurate. President Truman didn’t issue Executive Order 9981 to integrate the military until 1948.
- It’s also worth noting that the Howling Commandos are pretty diverse. Aside from Gabe’s skin color, you’ve got a Southerner, an Italian-American, a Jewish man, and a circus strongman in the group.
- The Howling Commandos war cry of “WAH-HOO!” debuts in this issue.
- Just a reminder: Adolf Hitler is a character in the Marvel Universe.
- Apparently, the Howling Commandos were part of D-Day.
Comics Are Goofy:
- Dum-Dum is the character that gets killed by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam War movies.
- Nick Fury and Dum-Dum sometimes evoke old timey newspaper comic strips.
- The odds of throwing a grenade while parachuting and blowing up an attacking plane…are apparently 1:1. Who knew?
- Why would anyone count on rocks landing in a V-shape and not crushing someone?
Behind the Scenes:
- As legend —- or latter day Stan Lee interviews —- has it, this comic had a Stan Lee wager to thank for its existence. Stan allegedly told his uncle, Marvel’s publisher, Martin Goodman, that he could make any comic sell if it was done in the “Marvel method” —- even if it was with a dated concept and a horrible title. That’s how they wound up with a war comic in the early 60’s with a six-word title.
- According to the Jack Kirby Collector #24 (which ToMorrows has archived online) Gabriel Jones was originally given a Caucasian skin tone by the coloring company. Stan Lee had to specifically explain to them that Gabe was black.