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Thank heavens the Nazis kept him in cigars – Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #57

May 30, 2011

It’s Memorial Day, and when you want to commemorate things in a comic booky sort of way there’s no substitute for the Howling Commandos. An ethnically and geographically diverse assemblage of manhood headed up by a dude whose machismo is strong enough to melt steel — how can one go wrong?

“The Informer!,” brought to us by Gary Friedrich, Tom Sutton and John Severin (with Dick Ayers penciling the cover), opens with Fury and the gang sweltering in unseasonable British heat. After a morning of marching around and having Fury tear them new assholes with his verbal barrage, the Commandos take a break while the boss heads in to the quartermaster’s and asks ever so nicely for some lighter shirts for his men:

After getting an armful of “the last 18 1/2 necks in Europe,” Fury leaves the poor quaking whelp alone and returns to his unit. But not for long, because the Captain has a job that only Fury and his Commandos can handle. He tells Fury that they have to go into Nazi-controlled territory, get themselves captured and thrown into the Reich’s top prison-camp and rescue their old pal Jim Morita.

Does Fury accept? You betcha:

After getting themselves spotted outside the camp and putting on a hell of a show of resistance, Fury and his boys are thrown in with Morita and others (including a large contingent of Nisei soldiers):

The greetings don’t last long and neither does Fury’s escape planning. The highest-ranking Yank (Captain Corbett) barges in and he and Fury immediately start raising the other’s hackles:

The escape attempt that the Captain is referring to fails, confirming that there’s a rat in their ranks. When another of the captive Yanks, a German-American soldier named Bodenschatz, blames Morita, a brawl breaks out. The Germans throw Captain Corbett and Fury in the sweat-box as examples, but not for long for half of that pair:

Yes. That must be the Corbett sipping wine with der Kommandant, yah?

At about the same time, word reaches Berlin that those pesky Commandos have finally been captured, which prompts Hitler to almost do that famous jig of his:

  

Back at the camp, the Commandos and the other captives have tunneled in to rescue Fury Great Escape-style, and then they bust loose using nothing but their bare fists:

After grabbing weapons, blowing up a supply of ammunition, stealing a truck and doing everything but steal the Germans’ wallets, Fury, Commandos and friends tear on out of there. Once they reach the safety of the woods, Fury and trumpet-tooting Gabe Jones devise a clever little way of exposing the real Nazi spy:

What? It wasn’t Captain Corbett? Gasp! Oh, and speaking of Corbett:

And Hitler jigs no more:

This one was a good read. While the diversity of the Commandos can seem a bit forced and artificial, when you just roll with it (It’s comics, people!) it’s just fine. And the ease with which Fury and Co. infiltrate the Nazis, get caught without getting shot, bust out, and apparently escape Nazi-occupied Europe is vexing, but it goes down okay. The dialogue that spews out of Fury’s stubble-edged mouth is delightfully salty in a rated-G way, and Sutton’s detailed art makes the whole affair rocket right along.

Finally, one of the most striking things here is the use of the word “negro” when the Nazi spy is exposed. I realize that the term was still in (diminishing) use when this comic was published (1968), and most definitely during the 1940s, but reading it in a modern context makes the Nazi-sympathizer all the more loathsome. That’s especially true with the malice your inner ear imagines him infusing it with.

Like I said, a pretty good read.

Man, I can’t wait for later this summer when the Captain America movie comes out and Dum Dum Dugan, complete with bowler hat and giant moustache, gets the full big screen treatment.

My thanks to all who have sacrificed. And if Nick Fury were real, I’m sure he’d be raising his hand in a salute today. And raising a beer. And smoking a cigar. And cussing.

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