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Comic Book / Howling Commandos

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And the award for most clichés in a single speech balloon goes to...
"Spawned in battle and tempered by danger, afraid of nothing that lives or breathes, hurling their thunderous war cry into the teeth of tyrants, here come Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos!"
— Stan Lee, Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos #1.

From legendary Comic Book duo Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, one of the most iconic American war comics. Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos followed a racially-integrated special operations squad of the US Army during World War II, as they fought Those Wacky Nazis.

A war comic "in the Mighty Marvel Manner", the Howlers' missions were usually larger-than-life adventure stories, less realistic than, for instance, DC's Sgt. Rock feature. The series run for 120 issues (May, 1963-July, 1974)

The Howlers eventually met up with many "modern" Marvel characters who were active in WWII, including Captain America, a young Reed Richards and Baron von Strucker, who was one of Fury's chief enemies both as a Wehrmacht officer and decades later as head of HYDRA. Nick Fury and many of the Howlers survived the war and became active in "modern" Marvel stories as well. Indeed, Dum-Dum Dugan even wound up leading S.H.I.E.L.D.'s anti-Godzilla forces!


In the movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, these characters (minus Nick Fury) are merged in concept with Cap's World War II superhero group, The Invaders (Marvel). Essentially it's the Howlers but includes Captain America, Bucky and James Montgomery Falsworth (who is the British superhero, Union Jack, in the comics and father of two Invaders, Spitfire and Union Jack II).

The "Howling Commandos" name has also been occasionally used by Marvel for an entirely different team, a strike force of supernatural creatures working for S.H.I.E.L.D. This version originally ran for six months back in 2006, and was revived for 2015's All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch. It also appeared in two animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H..


Tropes used:

  • All Germans Are Nazis: Eric Koenig subverts this, being a very anti-Nazi German, because the Nazis killed his sister.
  • Anyone Can Die: The series notably killed off a Junior Juniper early on, as well as Pamela Hawley, Fury's Love Interest. Quite unheard of for its day.
  • Badass Crew
  • Black Viking: On at least one occasion, Gabe (along with the other Howlers) impersonated a German soldier. He appeared to have no greater or lesser difficulty pulling this off than any of the white Howlers.
  • But Not Too Black: Gabe Jones suffered this early on.
  • Clothing Damage: Fury almost never completes a mission with his jacket intact.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Izzy was Charles Bronson.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Pinkerton.
  • Cunning Linguist: Dino spoke Italian and German. Quite handy in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) of WWII.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Every member of the squad in way or another.
  • Evil Counterpart: During the war, Baron Von Strucker tried countering the Howlers by assembling his own commando unit with Germans who each shared a quirk of their enemies.
  • Five-Token Band: One of the trend setters, actually. You had Jewish Izzy Cohen, Black Gabe Jones, German Eric Koenig, British gay Pinky Pinkerton, Italian-American Dino Manelli and Irish-American Dum-Dum Dugan. There was also Nisei Jim Morita.
  • Genius Loci: A Journey into Mystery horror one-shot released in 2018 sees the Howlers witness the bombing and awakening of Krakoa.
  • Insert Grenade Here
  • It's Raining Men: The Howlers made a combat jump once every other issue.
  • Nice Hat: A great many:
    • Dugan had a Bowler hat emblazoned with his Corporal's insignia.
    • Pinkerton wore the tam-o-shanter of his original British Army regiment.
    • Rebel wore a hat that shouldn't exist for another twenty years.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dino Manelli bears a marked resemblance to Dean Martin.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Howling Commandos were a squad and perfectly the proper size. The Ranger Company they belonged to, however, was actually platoon sized.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Dino can even be seen doing it in the page illo.
  • Politically Correct History: One issue had a bigoted replacement commando join their ranks temporarily, at which time he antagonized Dino, Izzy and Gabe, an Italian, Jewish and African American. Everyone acted like it was a very rare and backward view. Of course, since the comics were written at a time when this was true (the racism), YMMV on whether this is Politically Correct History on the part of the comic and/or the authors, or whether they were seriously trying to show that racism was stupid.
    • Point is the n Howlers acted like they'd never met a racist person before.
    • Subverted with an issue flashing back to the Howlers' first mission. It's clearly shown how Southern-bred Reb is not happy having to be with Gabe. At one point, he snaps "be happy we let a guy like you talk to us" and Izzie fires back on how "that kind of talk is reserved for Nazis!" A later issue shows Reb gaining respect when Gabe risks his life saving Reb's behind enemy lines.
  • Psycho Rangers: Baron Strucker and his Blitzkreig squad!
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Again, Pinkerton.
  • Ranger The Howlers were American Rangers who were given honorary Status as British Commandos by Winston Churchill.
  • Retired Badass / Handicapped Badass: The Howlers' CO, Cpt. Happy Sam Sawyer.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: In one issue, the Howlers help out a Greek resistance cell but one Greek betrays them all to the Germans. He steps forward to accept his reward but the German commander says anyone who'd sell out his own countrymen will turn on anybody. He thus hands the guy back to his own former comrades who make it clear they'll dispense their own "justice." on him.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The squad's youngest member, Junior Juniper, is killed off early on to show how dangerous the war is. He had no character to speak of besides general naivety.
  • Sergeant Rock: Who else but Nick Fury?
  • Southern-Fried Private: Robert "Rebel" Ralston.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler
  • The Rival: Bull McGivenney and his Maulers.
  • The Squad
  • Those Wacky Nazis
  • Token Enemy Minority: Morita, Koenig and Manelli.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Do not fuck with the effeminate Englishman with the Bumbershoot.
  • World War II
  • War Is Glorious


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