Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (Vol. 1) #17

Credits:

Cover Date: April 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta

“While the Jungle Sleeps”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Dick Ayers

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Vince Colletta

What’s Going On?

The Howling Commandos trade the African desert for the African jungle as they hunt for a missing squad of Americans.

Details:

  • Picking up from last issue, the Howling Commandos are heading back to base through the desert when they are attacked by Nazi planes.

  • Naturally, the Howlers take the planes out. One explodes, and the other crashes.

  • They use the crashed plane’s radio to contact their base. Instead of an extraction point, though, they get a new mission. They are told to find a missing squad in the nearby jungle.

  • There, the Howlers find some American soldiers being used as prison labor by the Nazis, with the help of a local African tribe.

  • The chief of the tribe appears to be the only native that doesn’t trust the Nazis.

  • But that’s okay! Fury and the Howlers snuck into the camp and armed the American prisoners.

  • When the Howlers and prisoners attack the Nazis, the natives are glad to switch sides. The Nazis are beaten easily.

  • When they finally return to base, Happy Sam Sawyer tricks them into accepting medals for their bravery. The end.

Is It Good?

No. The stuff with the African tribe was insultingly bad. Never mind the normal dumb stuff —- how did the tribe learn English? —- this plot treated the tribesmen like children, at best. This was also one of the more ridiculously macho issues in a long while. Combine that with blatant racism, and you’ve got a bad issue.

Continuity:

  • Nick Fury is still dating Pamela Hawley.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • One of my favorite tropes in this title is Nazis being unscrupulous cowards. I’d say that Stan Lee is being heavy-handed, and that he should use nuance to craft more realistic characters, but…they’re Nazis. Screw them.

  • Remember: real men don’t accept praise, thanks, or acknowledge their own hard work.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • This issue offers four different slurs/degrading nicknames for the Nazis: Fritz, Jerry, Kraut, and Otto. That’s a lot for one issue.

  • The phonetic spelling continues to be awful in this title:

  • Is it racist to assume African tribesmen are cannibals? I’ll guess “yes.”

  • Gabe dresses up as a witch doctor and wows the natives by dancing the jitterbug and doing a basic magic trick. Get it? It’s because natives are stupid.

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