Saturday, 3 January 2015

Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos

Sgt Fury & his Howling Commandos King Size Special #5

Stan Lee (w) Jack Kirby (a)

Nick Fury is a character that has been around for quite a few years not just in comics form (1963) but according to Marvel canon was a Sergeant in the Second World War. The fact he is still somewhat sprightly in the 21st century is of course one of those things you just have to accept as a comic reader.

For those of you only familiar with Nick Fury from the Captain America and Avengers films might notice a slight difference in his appearance. That's because the films used the Ultimates version of Fury rather than the mainstream Marvel Universe one.

This King Size Special was published in 1969 and contains two reprinted adventures from Sgt Fury issues 6 & 7 from 1964. The stories are full of wise cracking American GI humour and "attitude" that would be somewhat unfamiliar to British readers, who were used to quite different types of war stories.

Whilst these adventures are fun, they do lack the gritty realism found in Commando, Battle and other War picture libraries that were popular in this country at the time.

Nick Fury and his DC equivalent Sgt Rock managed to lead a team in every theatre of the war virtually without loss to the central team. Nevertheless the first story The fangs of the Desert Fox sees Fury come to the aid of the British and attempt to assassinate Rommel. A mission they are pulled out of before they succeed.

However the presence of a racist in their ranks who takes exception to the Jewish and Black members of Fury's team provides an interesting sub-plot that was probably quite controversial in its time. After all it hadn't been that long since the outcry in the deep south over the Kirk/Uhuru kiss in Star Trek.

And then there was Martin Luther King.

Of course both Lee and Kirby were Jewish, so no strangers to the dangers of racism.

Whilst Sgt Fury was probably never that popular in the UK despite having appeared in Pow! (Odhams), Fury and Forces in Combat (Marvel UK), his re-booting as the Director of SHIELD is what most of readers know him as.

But that's a feature for another time.

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