The final original issues for the title, marked the end of an era. Long outlasting Nick Fury in his modern day titles, Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos did indeed prove Stan Lee more then correct in his famous bet made many years beforehand. The title continued for another seven years, through 1981 with reprints of earlier adventures. The title nearly reprinted half of its own run, although not these last few issues. Gary Friedrich returned for another tour of duty on the title, taking it nearly to the end. His stories here signal the last great stories of Sgt Fury. Some milestone issues such as #108 feature some of the more serious turns taken in Friedrich's stories.

Once again a spin-off series was attempted; Combat Kelly and his Deadly Dozen launched from issue #98 and shared a crossover storyline in Sgt Fury #104 dealing with the aftermath of the Battle of the Bulge. As with the earlier Sgt. Savage title, the series featured the same creative team, but this time lasted fewer issues, ending at issue #9. More multi-issue storylines in Sgt. Fury made for more complex plots including the last grand face-off with Von Strucker.

New covers continued to grace the title, sometimes reworked and touched up versions of the originals. Appropriately the final issue ended with a reprint of the very first issue. This was the last and longest running war title published by the modern Marvel Comics and to date Nick Fury's most long-lived title.


Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #94 "Who'll Stop The Rain?"
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #96  "This Ravaged Land!"
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #97
"...Till The Last Man Shall Fall!" 
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Syd Shores
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • Dum Dum claims he isn't much of a smoker (other comics prove otherwise) 

An eye-opening adventure for the Howlers as they are caught behind enemy lines during Allied bombings of a German town where the population is devastated, and among the seriously wounded is Nick Fury. Meanwhile the American bomber pilot who laid the raid is tormented by his last mission and vows never to fly again, until he is given a chance at reprieve by Happy Sam to extract the Howlers. Back in Germany Dum Dum takes command and must lead a demoralized team back across heavily fortified enemy territory.

Classic Howler adventure in every way, from the covers (including a Gil Kane stunner on #96) to the stalwart team of Ayers and Friedrich inside this 3-parter is a shining example of what the comic could offer in terms of high adventure. Unique to this story is the emphasis on Dum Dum as he takes center stage in the latter two issues proving yet again he's one of the most underrated characters in the Marvel Universe. Friedrich again milks Koenig for all the melodrama and pathos he's worth as he's sent to find help through a destroyed village. Reminiscent of the stand-off in issue #4, the last stand against the rock face is a new peak in Howler suicidal logic. The Hawkeye (no relation to the Avenger) subplot lends excellent support to the themes and action of the adventure. You just gotta get these, nuff said!

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #98 "Top Secret: Dugan's Deadly Dozen!" 
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Mike Esposito
Letters: Artie Simek
  • The Dozen spun off into thier own title, Combat Kelly & the Deadly Dozen, penned by Friedrich.
  • Dum Dum is promoted to sergeant
  • Short bios are provided for all the dozen, including Dum Dum, Dino and Pinkerton

Dum Dum, still haunted by the last mission must rise to meet Happy Sam's new assignment, to train and take command of a new commando squad made up of military convicts looking to reduce their sentences. Together with fellow transfers from the Howlers, Dino and Pinky, Dum Dum leads the Deadly Dozen against a group of Nazis arriving on the English coast.

A fantastic cover by the art team is the best thing going for this teaser of an issue meant to launch the Combat Kelly series. Once again Dum Dum gets a chance to shine, following the events of the last story arc, making this a must for Dugan fans. Dino and Pinky fans need not apply as despite their transfer to the new team, they step aside to make room for the new dozen. The main problem with the issue is that half is devoted just to establishing who the dozen is and then when the requisite action arrives twelve is just too many characters to handle. Aside from Laurie, who distinguishes herself merely by her gender, most come off as pale copies of either the Howlers or the Leathernecks.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #102 "Death For A Dollar!"
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Mike Esposito
Letters: John Costanza

The Howlers are sent in to Sicily to break up a counterfeiting ring which threatens the stability of the Allies.

The Howlers vs the mob! WAHOO! This Godfather II inspired story is another winning tale from the pen of Friedrich. A few Howlers short (No Percy, Dino, or Koenig) allows for better focus on the remaining ones. Jones gets a great kitchen fight and Reb uses his gambling skills to nice effect. Again Ayers & Colletta make a perfect team. This is a keeper.

Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen #3 " The Boston Bomber"
Sgt. Fury & his Howling Commandos #104
Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen #4
" To Hell With Heroes"
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Mike Esposito
Letters: #104: Artie Simek/ #3-4:Jean Izzo

  • The first and only crossover between Combat Kelly and Sgt Fury.
  • Cover appearance by Fury and Dum Dum on Combat Kelly #4.
  • Combat Kelly #3 features the back story of Combat Kelly.
  • The Howlers fought alongside Captain America during the Battle of the Bulge in Captain America (3) #32.

Following the end of the Battle of the Bulge, both the Deadly Dozen and the Howling Commandos find themselves on the same snow covered battlefield where they must struggle to hold the line from Panzer attacks. As the battle rages on, commanding officers dwindle until Fury takes final command after Captain Conner suffers a mental breakdown. Eventually the battle is won, but at a high price.

Review Pending

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #106 "The Last Prison Train"
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #108 "Bury My Heart At Dresden!"

Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Vince Colletta
Letters: Mac Duffy
Colors: D. Hunt

  • The creative team's colorist is credited for the first time.

The Howlers have to free POWS on a Nazi train heading to Dresden before the Allied bombing of that city. Koenig snaps back at Happy Sam during the briefing, upset that German civillians will die. Discontent among the Howlers continue as Izzey and Eric fight just before the parachute jump. The Howlers allow themselves to be captured and taken to the POW camp where the camp commander is a double agent and gets the Howlers on the train. The Howlers take the train and free the POWs, but recieve new orders that now they have to take the train and free more POWs from Dresden.

At Dresden the Howlers are caught during the Allied firebombing of Dresden.

Koenig shines in #106 as the question of his German background clashes with Allied plans, namely the bombing at Dresden. Granted the appeal of the Howlers is their ability to see beyond their backgrounds to band together and fight; but it is refreshing to see some conflict between the characters for valid reasons. The Howlers complaining of the new orders is also refreshing and understandable (Happy Sam can be an asshole sometimes huh). The exchange between Reb and Gabe when the former is trapped in a tree is classic and earthier then one would have seen in the days of Stan Lee.

Eschewing the standard humor and light action, scribe Gary Friedrich goes for gritty drama in issue #108's stirring tale which puts the title on par with the best of DC's Sgt Rock. The art team of Ayers and Colletta follow in Friedrich's footsteps with stark and shadowy art that is easily the grittiest Fury and the Howlers have looked since the early days of Kirby's pencils. Even the customary fisticuffs are replaced with more shooting, making for an overall much more realistic feel to the story. This issue certainly deserves to be singled out as a classic of the title.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos  #110 "The Reporter!"
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Vince Colletta
Letters: Herb Cooper

  • The Jameson character was originally intended to be J. Jonah Jameson, however all WWII appearances of Jameson have now been retconned into "Old Man" Jameson. See the Marvel Appendix.

Tired of of the anti-war rhetoric of Daily Bugle columnist C. Thomas Sites, Dum Dum issues him an offer to spend a day in the front lines with the Howlers, much to Nick Fury's chagrin.

About as political as the title ever gets (its obvious stance on fascism aside), the word liberal gets slung around like a curse word a few times (but then again, I'm Republican, so what do I care). Its fun to see a young J. Jonah Jameson (to hell with the Marvel retconning) chewing out Sites, and his appearance is a welcome cameo. Friedrich's script pretty much plays to my views but others maybe won't like it. In any case the Ayers/Colletta art is great, especially the foxhole scenes and the running gag about the cigars is perfect. 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #112 "Into The Jaws Of The Jungle"
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #114 "The Breakdown Of Sgt. Fury!"
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #115 "This One's For Fury!"

Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: John Tartaglione
Letters: S. Leferman/#115:Denise Vladimer
Colors: Linda Lessman/#114: G. Roussos/#115: Stan G

  • Appearance by Baron Von Strucker, his final appearance in the title.
  • The first of many "deaths" for Nick Fury, a plot device that would reappear many times in future SHIELD titles.

Shot down over Africa, the Howlers believe that Fury died in the place crash, but in fact he is kidnapped by Baron Von Strucker who subjects him to a series of mind altering drugs meant to drive Fury insane. The Howlers continue with thier mission, to destroy said Nazi base and at thier time of attach, Fury manages to break free of his bonds. Following a retreat by Von Strucker, Fury's mind is still in disarray and he is taken back to England, shattered and delusional. The Howlers learn of an imprisoned doctor who can help cure Fury and Dum Dum leads a daring rescue to free the doctor.

Over a hundred issues into its run, the stories have long begun to recycle, this one showcasing elements of #38 with having to break a doctor out to help a Howler and Dum Dum once again taking command for an out-of-action Fury. Adding something new to the mix is the appearance by Von Strucker, his plan to drive Fury crazy helps establish him as Fury's #1 foe. Dum Dum gets a good spotlight in this as he's in command again. Its near the end for this series and as the last multi-issue storyline it still holds up well. 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #116 "The End Of The Road!" 
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Vince Colletta
Letters: S. Lefferman
Colors: Dave Hunt

Still recovering from his psychological torment at the hands of Von Strucker, Fury is temporarily assigned a non-combative role training new commando recruits. Running the recruits through training becoming a Howling Commando, the rookies are finally assigned a UDT mission.

 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #117 "Taps For A Drummer!"
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Vince Colletta
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Colors: Dave Hunt

  • Final issue penned by Gary Friedrich.
  • The title returns to bi-monthly with this issue.

Gabe Jones joins Nick Fury on a special mission to look for Danny "Drummer" Bellaman, an old friend of Jones, who is loose in London carrying a Nazi-developed virus.

One of the more imaginative stories, scribe Gerry Conway pens a scenario that could easily be played out by Fury and Jones in their SHIELD days. In the aftermath of the previous stories, discontent breeds within the normally happy Howlers as Fury's tough-as-nails attitude bears a harsher edge. Nonetheless Fury and Jones work well together as a team and Jones earns a well-deserved spotlight, although he does get jipped somewhat. Conway shortchanges Jones by having Happy Sam relates Jones' story with Drummer, an act that would have been better served by Jones (since he's the one who actually knew Bellaman. Regardless, this issue is certainly worth looking for in the stacks and a classic of the series and testament to the writing Friedrich brought to the title. 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #118 "The War Machine!"
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils/Inks/Letters: Dick Ayers
Colors: Linda Lessman
  • Rommel previously appeared in issue #6, but an editor's note in this comic sets this issue before #6.
  • The Howlers also faced off against Rommel and Nazi super-tanks in #43
  • Appearence by Happy Sam Sawyer, Generals Montgomery and Rommel

Happy Sam and the Howlers are brought in to Africa to take on Rommel and his Afrika Corps, who are using a new tank that is near unstoppable. The Howlers head off into the desert and soon enough run afoul of the legendary Desert Fox.

Reads like a first issue as Conway takes time to establish the quirks and of the individual Howlers; the few that appear. Conway dwindles down the facetime to only Fury, Dum Dum, Gabe and Izzy; and perhaps wisely so. The action flows very well with the smaller cast and in doing so the story allows for the conflict of Rommel and the tank designer, Freissel. The subplot between the two Nazi officers is neat twist to the plot and in a small way echoes the historical Rommel's dissatisfaction with his superiors back home. The resolution comes way too fast, the Howlers taking on several of the super tanks with thier captured one in barely a couple of panels. Nonetheless with this issue its fun to speculate what a Conway written run of sotires would have been like. There is a bit more narration and the Nazis seem to have a little more dimension to them as characters. The super-tank weapon and Innsbruck in the subsequent issue seems to point to a Conway-written title that would have looked allot like DC's Blackhawks with flashier villians and more advanced high-tech weapons like the War Wheel. Artwise, as always the issue is great, with a very striking cover showing off the Nazi super-tank. Of course, it bears noting that this is the SECOND time the Howlers have undergone a mission against Rommel and super-tanks. Which is the better story; I leave that up to you.... 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #119 "The Soldier Who Wouldn't Die!"
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils/Inks/Letters: Dick Ayers
Colors: Linda Lessman

  • Marshal Innsbruck would return in Avengers 1959.

Happy Sam sends the Howlers to infiltrate and eliminate Nazi Germany's greatest secret; Reich Marshal Heindrich Von Wilhelm Innsbruck, aka "The Planner", a Prussian military mastermind who has lived for many, many years and seems capable of cheating death.

Another in the trend of more fanciful adventures with Fury squaring off against his first cyborg (did someone at Secret Adventures of Jules Verne read this issue?). Ayers' art is especially moody and fluid in this one and Conway's script proves Garth Ennis wasn't the first to give Fury a potty mouth (he calls Dum Dum "ya old jackass" and the word "pussy" seems especially bolded when Happy Sam yells it). The central villain seems custom made for a return appearance, but this was not to happen till many decades later in the excellent Chaykin penned Avengers 1959. Aside from the neat villain it's standard action and one-liners, with Percy especially chatty in this one.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #120 "Trapped In The Compound Of Death!" 
Writer: Larry Lieber
Pencils/Inks: Dick Ayers
Letters: A Kawecki
Colors: Stan G.

  • The last original issue.
  • Dick Ayers is the only member of the creative team to work on the title from beginning to end.

The Howlers parachute into Holland to on a recon mission to photograph some Nazi plans. On the way back, they spot a train taking Jews to a concentration camp. Izzey is afraid his uncle might be aboard and the Howlers .

Well, this is it folk, the last issue. Sadly its not one of the best, not horrible, but it pales with issues written by Friedrich and even Conway. The Howler banter is half wit by far and the art seems very simple compared to previous stories. Nonetheless the issues of the Holocaust comes front and center, surprisingly the strongest it has during the entire run (and this with a Jewish character).

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos (2009) "Shotgun Opera" 
Writer: Jesse Alexander
Artist: John Paul Leon
Letters: John E. Workman

  • This issue was a 2009 oneshot special, the first comic to bear the full title of the original comic in 28 years
  • Appearance by Baron Von Strucker, Baron Zemo, Adolf Hitler, and Black Widow (not Natasha Romanov)
  • Von Strucker does not recognize the Howlers, thus it takes place before Sgt. Fury #5

The Howlers parachute into Yugoslavia with strict orders to recon a mysterious set of railroad tracks. Along they way they team up with a Soviet Black Widow spying on an atomic facility run by Baron Zemo. Together Russian spy and Howlers face off against the latest Nazi weapon, Panzer Max.

More vulgar and certainly more violent then your father's Sgt Fury, nonetheless the ole Howler spirit is alive and well with this oneshot special. Alexander and crew capture the outrageous action from the original comic unabashedly, with some modern updates in language and tone. Fury using Pinky's bumbershot is just one example of embracing the wild storytelling of the old comic with flair, while Fury sleeping with Widow is an example of modern comic book writing breathing life into the old Howler formula. Its interesting to note that the old issues manage to pack more character bits for all the Howlers then this one; this is a mostly Fury-centric tale. Not sure what Dum Dum's wife would think of his playing barbelles with the girl (much less his feared mother-in-law). Its too bad its just a special, I could get used to reading this monthly.

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