Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (Vol. 1) #4

Credits:

Cover Date: November 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“Lord Ha-Ha’s Last Laugh!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: George Roussos

What’s Going On?

The Howling Commandos are sent on another tough mission: this time, they are to go deep behind enemy lines to find and bring back a British citizen, Percy Hawley. Percy is broadcasting pro-German sentiment on the radio after Luftwaffe bombings to demoralize the public and encourage them to surrender. However, Percy is a member of a wealthy British family, so they believe A) he is worth saving and B) he must be making these broadcasts under duress.

Is It Good?

Actually, yes. I liked that Lord Ha-Ha (as Percy is known on the radio) was a legitimate German supporter; this series is oftentimes idealistic, so seeing a traitor without German heritage was a welcome change. This issue is also famous for killing a member of the Howling Commandos. Heroes didn’t die in Silver Age comics, so this is pretty noteworthy. Will the death impact the title in the long-term? Probably not, but I like the sense of danger that it adds to this war comic.

Sub-Plots:

  • On leave in London, the Howling Commandos get caught in an air raid. Nick Fury meets Pamela Hawley when he helps her bring an injured man to shelter.

  • After the attack, Lord Ha-Ha’s radio broadcast specifically taunts the Howling Commandos. When Ha-Ha asks his German keepers why they had him say those things, he is told that they are trying to bait the Commandos into making a foolish mistake.

  • Nick Fury attends a meeting with the Hawley family, where he recognizes Pamela. According to Lord Hawley, his son had been a news correspondent in Berlin, but had been captured by the Nazis. Now, he is presumably forced to broadcast propaganda as “Lord Ha-Ha.”
  • The mission is to sneak into Berlin, find Lord Ha-Ha, and bring him home to England. There, he will serve British propaganda by making anti-German radio broadcasts.

  • The Commandos successfully sneak into Berlin, but Lord Ha-Ha is not happy to see them. It turns out that he is a German sympathizer!

  • Despite Ha-Ha’s allegiance to the Nazis, the Commandos intend to bring him back to England. While trying to leave Berlin, Lord Ha-Ha notices a Nazi patrol and tries to blow the Commandos’ cover. The Germans shoot and kill Lord Ha-Ha, instead.

  • As the Commandos fought their way to their rendezvous, one of their own was killed.

  • When they return to England, Nick Fury went to tell Pamela that her brother, Lord Ha-Ha, had died. Fury lied about her brother’s bravery and allegiance to save her feelings.

Continuity:

  • Jonathan “Junior” Juniper dies in this issue.
  • Junior’s death is the first Marvel Silver Age hero to die. Unlike most comic book deaths, Junior’s has been permanent.

  • This is the first appearance of Pamela Hawley, who becomes a love interest for Nick Fury.
  • There is another weapons pin-up at the end of the issue.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I like the ongoing bit where Dum-Dum has an uncontrollable lust for explosions, regardless of the mission.

  • Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos dress up like circus performers to get into Berlin. Instead of giving Fury an easy job — I’m sure they need people to haul stuff around — they put him on the trapeze!?!

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