Cover Date: February 1965
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
“Too Small to Fight, Too Young to Die!”
Plotters: Stan Lee, Dick Ayers
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Dick Ayers
Inker: Steve Ditko
What’s Going On?
The Howling Commandos are instructed to flood Holland to prevent a Nazi invasion of Britain. Can they do it? Of course they can. But can they do it without killing a bunch of innocents?
- On the advice of the Allied spy, Agent X, the Howling Commandos are being sent to Holland. The Nazis are staging an invasion of England from there, and it is up to the Howlers to stop it.
- The plan is to destroy the dikes that keep Holland dry, despite being below sea level. The problem is that they need Agent X to find them and show them where to set the explosives, or else a lot of innocents might die. Also, Mayor Rooten is a Nazi sympathizer.
- When they landed in Holland, the Howlers were immediately surrounded by Nazis. They would have surrendered, but covering sniper fire scared off the Germans. The sniper was just a lone boy, Hans Rooten —- son of the town’s Nazi-sympathizing mayor!
- Hans sneaks the Commandos into town and disguises some of them as fishermen. Since Agent X hasn’t made contact with them yet, they are forced to wander the city; they hope to attract Agent X’s attention, while avoiding the Nazi’s suspicions.
- The plan hits a snag when some local girls recognize Dino from his movies, blowing their cover.
- The disguised Howlers (Fury, Dino, and little Hans) managed to escape. Later, they observe the shameful toadying of Mayor Rooten.
- Agent X failed to make contact, so Fury instructs Izzy to strategize where they need to plant the explosives. No one is happy about it; they only have one chance, and it is very likely that they will kill a lot of civilians in the process.
- The Howling Commandos charge toward the dike —- which happens to be just behind the staging ground for the Nazi invasion. In the ensuing firefight, Izzy decides to plant his explosives and get the job over with. But that’s when Agent X shows up!
- With Agent X’s advice, they blow the dike in such a way that the Nazis are flooded, but the town and surrounding farms are not.
- After their victory, Agent X asks the Howlers to take Hans with them, back to Britain. And they do! Why would Agent X care about the fate of the boy? That is (kind of) left a mystery, but maybe Mayor Rooten isn’t the heel he appears to be…
Is It Good?
It’s not bad! I liked Ditko’s inks on Ayer’s pencils, and Hans made the story a little less implausible than usual. What I genuinely liked was how subtly Agent X’s identity was revealed. Stan Lee typically makes sure to hit readers over the head in his stories, so this is uncharacteristic of his preferred style, and it works very well.
- This is the first appearance of Mayor Rooten. He is a Dutch mayor that is a Nazi sympathizer. Or is he? It is implied that he is secretly Agent X, an Allied spy!
- This is the first appearance of Hans Rooten. He is the son of Mayor Rooten, and he is ashamed of his father. He wants to be a freedom fighter, and has apparently joined the Howling Commandos.
- Apparently, Rebel is a former jockey. I do t think we knew that before. Shouldn’t he look smaller than the rest of the troops?
Comics Are Goofy:
- The script is clearly taking its cues from slapstick cartoons.
- Yes, insulting the only institutional support you have in the city is a wise choice, Nazi.
Well, That Aged Poorly:
- I am so tired of the phonetic spelling when Stan Lee scripts.