Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (Vol. 1) #18

Credits:

Cover Date: May 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“Killed In Action!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Dick Ayers

Scripter: Stan Lee

Pencillers: Dick Ayers, Jack Kirby, Carl Hubbell

Inkers: Chic Stone, Carl Hubbell

What’s Going On?

The only thing stopping Nick Fury from proposing to his girlfriend is a deadly covert mission in Norway.

Details:

  • Nick Fury has bought an engagement ring for Pamela Hawley!

  • But the proposal will have to wait! The Howlers have a new mission: destroy a German ship in an important Norwegian harbor.

  • The mission starts off well, with the Howlers able to infiltrate the harbor guards with ease.

  • However, an alarm goes off, and the captain of the ship is notified that the Howling Commandos are targeting the ship.
  • As the team places explosives in their assigned spots, there was a slight snag as Fury had to fight the Nazi boat captain. It didn’t take long, but Fury almost lost his engagement ring in the harbor.

  • In the end, the Howling Commandos blew up the ship and returned back to base safely.
  • Fury cleaned up and left the base as soon as he could, intent on proposing to Pamela. When he arrives at her father’s house to ask permission, he is told that she died in an air raid while Fury was in Norway.

Is It Good?

I’m kind of torn on this issue.

The main story — the Howling Commandos sinking a ship — was pretty standard for this title.  Dick Ayers’ pencils are fine, but the story isn’t anything special.  However, the build up and revelation of Pamela’s death is pretty effective.  You see it coming from a mile away, with the suddenly serious relationship at the beginning of the issue and the cover promising a death in the main cast, but I thought it was handled pretty well.  Jack Kirby drew the last page of this issue, allegedly because Ayers’ version wasn’t packing the emotional punch that Stan Lee was looking for.  It was a good call; this is, quite honestly, some of Kirby’s best character work in the Silver Age so far.

My concern really comes from Pamela’s death.  I’m glad that she died doing something heroic, rather than being the victim of one of Nick Fury’s enemies, but that bravery feels lessened by the fact that it occurs off-panel.  I don’t think the “women in refrigerators” motif becomes prevalent in Marvel & DC comics until the late 1980s, but it bothers me to see a solid (if underdeveloped) heroic female character killed off, presumably just to give the hero motivation.  Maybe future issues will prove that there was a larger idea in mind with this character death, but I doubt it.

Continuity:

  • Pamela Hawley dies in this issue, off-panel. She was killed in a Nazi bombing attack.
  • Bull McGiveney last appeared in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #13.
  • Lord Hawley last appeared in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #4.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • We have the obligatory phonetic dialogue again in this issue:

  • Fury never seems to miss an opportunity to use impolite language when it comes to the Germans.

Behind the Scenes:

  • Dick Ayers has confirmed that Jack Kirby drew all or part of the first and last pages of this issue. Per Nick Caputo, Carl Hubbell probably redrew and inked a few panels in this issue; in particular, Bull McGiveney in this issue is believed to be Hubbell’s work.

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