Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos are a fictional World War II unit in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, they first appeared in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963). The main character, Sgt. Nick Fury, later became the leader of Marvel's super-spy agency, S.H.I.E.L.D..
In addition to Fury, the elite special unit of US Army Rangers nicknamed the Howling Commandos consisted of
* Corporal Thaddeus Aloysius Cadwallander "Dum Dum" Dugan,
* Private Gabriel Jones (an African American serving in an integrated unit, though the U.S. armed forces were not in real-life integrated until after the war, in 1948),<ref>In comics books, the DC Comics feature "Sgt. Rock", begun in the series Our Army at War in 1959, had earlier featured an African-American soldier, Jackie Johnson, in an integrated unit.</ref>
* Private Robert "Rebel" Ralston,
* Private Dino Manelli (modeled after Dean Martin),
* Private Isadore "Izzy" Cohen (the first demonstrably Jewish American comic book hero),
* Private Jonathan "Junior" Juniper — who, in an unusual and daring move for comics at the time, was killed in action after a few issues (#4, Nov. 1963).
* Private Percival "Pinky" Pinkerton, a British soldier, replaced Juniper in issue #8 (July 1964).
* Private Eric Koenig, a defector from Nazi Germany, joined the squad in issue #27.
Occasional other members would join for an issue or two before being killed, transferred, or otherwise leaving (such as Fred Jones in issue #81). Also daringly for the time, the series killed Fury's girlfriend, British nurse Pamela Hawley, introduced in issue #4 and killed in a London air raid in #18 (May 1965).
Stan Lee has described the series Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos as having come about due to a bet with his publisher, Martin Goodman that the Lee-Kirby style could make a book sell even with the worst title Lee could devise.<ref>Ro, Ronin. Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution (Bloomsbury USA, 2005 reissue ISBN 1-58234-566-X), p. 78:
Template:Cquote</ref> Lee elaborated on that claim in a 2007 interview, responding to the suggestion that the series title did not necessarily seem bad:
Template:Cquote Comics-artist contemporary John Severin recalled in an interview conducted in the early 2000s that in the late 1950s, Kirby had approached him to be partners on a syndicated, newspaper comic strip "set in Europe during World War Two; the hero would be a tough, cigar-chomping sergeant with a squad of oddball GIs — sort of an adult Boy Commandos",<ref>Ro, Ronin, Tales to Astonish, pp. 78-79</ref> referring to a 1940s wartime "kid gang" comics series Kirby had co-created for DC Comics.
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos followed an elite special unit, the First Attack Squad, nicknamed the "Howling Commandos," which was stationed in a military base in England to fight missions primarily, but not exclusively, in the European Theatre of World War II.<!--Howlers fought in Okinawa and elsewhere; Izzy was imprisoned for several issues as a POW in Japan--> Under Captain "Happy Sam" Sawyer, Fury was the cigar-chomping noncom who led the racially- and ethnically-integrated unit. The series ran 167 issues (May 1963 - Dec. 1981), though with reprints alternating with new stories from issue #80 (September 1970), and only in reprints after issue #120 (July 1974). Following several issues by creators Lee and Kirby, penciller Dick Ayers began his long stint on what would be his signature series; John Severin later joined as inker, forming a long-running, critically-acclaimed team. Roy Thomas followed Lee as writer, himself followed by Gary Friedrich, for whom this also became a signature series.
Friedrich began as a co-scripter of issues #42-44 (May-July 1967). The Friedrich-Ayers-Severin team began in earnest, however, with #45 (Aug. 1967), the first of what would be several of the series' "The" stories: "The War Lover," a shaded exploration of a trigger-happy soldier and the line drawn, even in war, between killing and murder. Daring for the time, when majority public sentiment still supported the undeclared Vietnam War, the story balanced present-day issues while demonstrating that even in what is referred to as "a just war," a larger morality prevails. While war comics at this stage were less overtly jingoistic than in the 1950s, Friedrich's allegorical approach was ahead of movies and television as well, occurring years before M*A*S*H would tread similar ground. Friedrich's story also marked the first time since the early Lee-Kirby Furys that such provocative humanism appeared in a full-length comic-book tale, rather than in the occasional "very special" short stories that represented the preferred length at rival DC Comics. Subsequent "The" stories included "The Assassin", "The Peacemonger", and the un-romanticized AWOL drama "The Deserter" (#75, Feb. 1970), based loosely on the real-life case of WWII Private Eddie Slovik. The story "The Man who Failed" tells how the British member of the squad had wasted an inheritance and was redeeming himself on the battlefield.
Friedrich continued through #83 (Jan. 1971), with the late part of this run having reprint issues between new stories, and again for the even-numbered issues from #94-114 (Jan. 1972 - Nov. 1973).
Sgt. Fury ran concurrently with two other, short-lived Marvel World War II series, Capt.<!--sp abbreviated OK--> Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders (later titled Captain<!--spelled fully OK--> Savage and his Battlefield Raiders), which lasted 19 issues from 1968-1970; and Combat Kelly, which lasted nine issues from 1972-1973. The Howlers guest starred in #6 and #11 of the former series, and #4 of the latter
==Fictional character biographies==
Nicholas Joseph Fury was the eldest of three children born to Jack Fury. His father was a United States citizen who enlisted in the United Kingdom's Royal Flying Corps during World War I. Jack had enlisted in 1916, and later stationed in France. Given the rank of lieutenant, he reportedly shot down Baron Manfred von Richthofen early in the Red Baron's flying career, and was a highly-decorated combat aviator by the end of the war in 1918.
Discharged after the War, Jack returned home, married an unnamed woman, and became father of three children. Jack's first wife died when Nick was a very young child; Jack married again, but shortly afterward the second Mrs. Fury also died, while Nick was in childhood.<ref>Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #76 (March 1970). Per Nick Fury to Sir Robert Hunt, the former general who had commanded Lt. Jack Fury: "He died when I was just a kid — and my mother died even before that. Then, when he married again, his second wife never wanted to hear anything about war, or fighting, or killing".</ref> Nick, probably born in the late 1910s or early 1920s, was followed by Jacob "Jake" Fury (later the supervillain Scorpio, who co-founded the Zodiac cartel), and their sister, Dawn.
All three children grew up in the neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, New York City, New York. Nick was an amateur boxer. With his friend Red Hargrove, he eventually left the neighborhood to pursue his dreams of adventure, eventually settling on a daring wing-walking aviation act. Their death-defying stunts caught the attention of Lieutenant Samuel "Happy Sam" Sawyer when Fury and Hargrove were training British Commandos in low-level parachuting. Sawyer was serving with the British Commandos in 1940 and underwent training by Fury. Sawyer enlisted them for a special mission in the Netherlands. <ref>Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #34 (Sept. 1966)</ref> Nick and Red later joined the U.S. Army, with Fury undergoing basic training under a Sergeant Bass at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Both Fury and Red were stationed at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the base on December 7, 1941, and Red was among the many killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.<ref name="bass">This paragraph per Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #62 (Jan. 1969)</ref>
Sawyer, now a captain, recruited select U.S. Army Rangers to his "Able" Company. Sawyer assigned Fury the command of the First Attack Squad, nicknamed the "Howling Commandos." Utm and the Second Attack Squad (the "Maulers", led by Sgt. "Bull" McGiveney, with Cpl. "Ricketts" Johnson),<ref>The Maulers and McGiveney introduced in issues #7 (May 1964); Johnson introduced #33 (Aug. 1966)</ref> and, later, Jim Morita's Nisei squad<ref>The unnamed squadron was newly created in its first appearance, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #38 (Jan. 1967). Per The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Jim Morita, "Able Company was shown to have four attack squads in Sgt. Fury #11. Perhaps Morita's squad was the Fifth Attack Squad?"</ref> were stationed in a military base in England to fight specialized missions, primarily, but not exclusively, in the European Theatre of World War II, eventually going as far afield as the Pacific Theatre, Africa, and, once each, in the Middle East and on the Russian front. Fury fell in love with an English nurse, Pamela Hawley, who died in a bombing raid of London before he could propose to her.<ref>Introduced in #4 (Nov. 1963), died in #18 (May 1965)</ref>
The Howling Commandos' earliest (but not first-published) assignment occurred in the autumn of 1942. They were to recover British rocket scientist Dr. MacMillan from a German military base in occupied Norway. Their success brought the attention of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who incorporated the unit into the British Army, and given the title of "Commandos".
The Howlers fought against the likes of German General Erwin Rommel and inter-squad bigotry, often in the same story. Antagonists included Baron Strucker, Captain America's nemeses Baron Zemo and the Red Skull (Adolf Hitler's protégé), and other Axis villains. The Howlers encountered Office of Strategic Services agent Reed Richards (later Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) in issue #3 (Sept. 1963), and fought alongside Captain America and Bucky in #13 (Dec. 1964).
They reunited for missions in the Korean War, where Fury received a field promotion to lieutenant, and the Vietnam War, each in a summer-annual special, as well as at a present-day, fictional reunion gala in issue #100 (July 1972).
*Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1-167 (May 1963 - Dec. 1981)
*Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos Annual #1 (1965)
*Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos King-Size Special #2-7 (1966 - Nov. 1971)
: # 5-7 are reprint-only, except for 10-page framing sequence in #6
*Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (one shot) (Jul 2009)
*Marvel Masterworks: Sgt. Fury #1 (2006), Sgt. Fury #2 (2008)
== Footnotes == Edit
*The Grand Comics Database
*Marvel Directory: Nick Fury
*Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
*Jack Kirby Collector #24 (April 1999): "Wah-Hoo!! Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos", by Mark Alexander