Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (Vol. 1) #10

Credits:

Cover Date: Sept 1964

Cover Artist: Dick Ayers

“On to Okinawa!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

What’s Going On?

To save an officer that Nick Fury respects, the Howling Commandos go all the way to Okinawa to fight the Japanese!

Details:

  • Sgt. Fury’s former colonel has been captured while on a dangerous reconnaissance mission in the Pacific. Knowing that the Howlers are the best group to attempt a rescue, Happy Sam Sawyer assigns them the mission.

  • Fury lays out the mission to the Howlers: they are going to the Japanese-controlled island of Okinawa to rescue the colonel, but they need to travel there, complete the mission, and leave the island before the US Air Force starts bombing it.

  • The Howlers faced some adversity on their trip. First, they fought off some German fighter planes, then they successfully refueled in mid-air, and then they landed on a carrier that was too small for their plane. This exchange sums up all of those mini-adventures:

  • When they finally boarded the submarine that was supposed to take them to Okinawa, they were almost immediately spotted by a Japanese destroyer. Pinned down by depth charges, the Howlers decided on an unconventional way past the Japanese ships: the Howlers would be fired, like torpedos, toward the shore!

  • To find the captive colonel, the Howlers decide to have Izzy (with the help of some makeup) impersonate a Japanese officer and bring the rest of the Commandos in as POWs.

  • With the colonel and some other POWs in tow, Izzy lies to the other Japanese soldiers and tells them that all the prisoners are to be loaded on a destroyer, destined for Tokyo. The plan, of course, is to take over the ship en route.

  • Naturally, their plan works, and the Howling Commandos manage to save the colonel and a bunch of other prisoners, with time to spare. On the way back to the Western Front, Fury explains why he doesn’t want to be promoted past sergeant:

Is It Good?

Well, consider this: every single part of this mission is completely ridiculous, and the Howlers should have died at least five times over in this story. Then consider the eye-rolling dialogue from Rebel, and Dum-Dum’s wife/mother-in-law jokes. And then ponder the viability of using makeup to turn Izzy into a Japanese leader.

None of those things were good. Some are annoying. Some are downright offensive, like the frequent use of the term “Jap.”

On the bright side, the Japanese soldiers weren’t drawn as obvious stereotypes…most of the time. Okay, so while there is some charm with regards to the impossible scope of this mission, there are just way too many problems to ignore.

Continuity:

  • This is the first time the Howling Commandos have been in WWII’s Pacific Theatre.
  • The invasion of Okinawa took place on April 1, 1945. That means this story took place roughly between March 29-31, 1945. None of the other Howling Commandos stories have been tied to a specific date before.
  • This is the first appearance of Captain Simon Savage, although he isn’t named here. He makes a few future appearances in this title before getting own war book in 1968.
  • Fury and Pamela Hawley are still a couple. This isn’t a romance title, but Stan and Dick are making sure to show this pair pretty frequently.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Remember: in war, pilots usually have plenty of time to ditch their planes.

  • I realize that Stan Lee served in World War II, but did he actually listen to how anyone spoke? This can’t be legit.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Get it? Dum-Dum is a battered husband! Hilarious.

  • “Afeared”? Is that supposed to be a Southern accent, or an old-timey prospector accent?

  • I sure hope you like ethnic slurs, because this issue uses the word “Jap” a lot. Like, the word is used more than bullets in this story.

  • Is this better or worse than the time when James Bond disguised as a Japanese man?  It’s about as realistic.

  • Dum-Dum, you need to update your comedy routine. Mother-in-law jokes were old, even in WWII.

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