Mondo Marvel #32 - November 1964

A column article, Mondo Marvel by: Paul Brian McCoy

Here we are again!

It's late in the evening, Thursday night, and Mondo Marvel is just about ready to head to the web. I'm Paul Brian McCoy, for those of you new to this whole Internet thing. And Mondo Marvel is where I slowly drive myself insane and you all get to watch in monthly installments.

Nah. Just kidding. It's nowhere near as maddening as I make it out to be. I'm just really pressed for free time these days, so Mondo Marvel has to be squeezed into the little spare time I've got, which makes it seem more stressful than it really is.

But enough of my bellyaching (Sgt. Fury would be ashamed of me!), let's see what we've got going on this time around!

We have a few stories expanding beyond their pagecounts, as Thor, Doctor Strange, and The Hulk all end with cliffhangers, and Iron Man wraps up with a very open ending. I hope this signals a shift to more long-form storytelling, even if that just means full issues worth of story for the characters who have to share books.

I guess we're not really seeing much of an expansion when it comes to the titles that are entirely dedicated to their subjects, although I think there is a noticeable uptick in the throughlines of the narratives, particularly with Fantastic Four and, obviously, Spider-Man. The Avengers and X-Men are only barely paying lip service to their ongoing natures, focusing instead on the done-in-one stories.

Hopefully over the coming months we'll start seeing more build-up and payoff in character development and long range plotting.

What's that? Yes I have been drinking.

Bah! Enough of this!

On to Mondo Marvel!


November 1964

Fantastic Four #32
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Chic Stone
"Death of a Hero!"

Building on the reappearance of Sue and Johnny's dad last issue, an enemy takes the opportunity to attempt a good old "divide and conquer" approach with our heroes. And it almost works.

A new villain is introduced after an interesting photo collage of a weird beam of light shooting through space toward Earth. I love it when Kirby gets all cosmic and weird like that.

The villain is played as a mystery, but it's pretty obvious that even though he assumes Dr. Storm's identity and starts calling himself The Invincible Man, we all know it's really The Super Skrull.

Well, try telling the Storms that. They're pretty blind to the fact that suddenly their dear old dad has all of their powers and is evil. Rather than adopt the most logical solution – Super Skrull!!! – they instead refuse to fight him, and even go so far as to defend him.

Which pisses Reed off like nobody's business.

But Reed's not the only one upset at this turn of events. As usual in the Marvel Universe, the population of New York, perhaps goaded on by the press, turns on the FF yet again, and we get another classic "Are They Heroes or Villains?" montage.

The most interesting thing about the issue, to me, is that we get a pretty disturbing look inside the mind of Reed Richard. When Sue and Johnny start balking at attacking their dad, he goes ballistic, demanding blind obedience and ranting about how they're not dedicated enough to the cause. To be quite frank, he sounds more than a little like Dr. Doom.

And that's before he goes full-on super villain and threatens to nuke the Skrull homeworld. Seriously. If the Skrulls aren't willing to return Dr. Storm, Reed's going to commit genocide and destroy their planet.

Which obviously brings to mind Kelvin Green's classic broadsheet, "Reed Richards is a C**t!"

I almost forgot that the story opens with Reed curing Ben. For a minute, anyway. It turns out that the cure has the unfortunate side effect of erasing his memory. So rather than work on bringing his memory back, Reed turns Ben back into a rocky monster.

And he still manages to spin it to make himself look selfless.

What a c**t.

Strange Tales #126
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Dick Ayers
Inker: Paul Reinman
"Pawns of The Deadly Duo!"

I'm not sure who thought that The Mad Thinker and The Puppet Master would make a great super villain duo. Basically, the Thinker sits around quoting statistics and then claims to have a great new plan to defeat the Fantastic Four. And that plan is always to have Puppet Master make a puppet, control one of the FF, and make them turn on the others.

That's not the sign of a brilliant thinker.

But don't tell Puppet Master. He thinks The Thinker is the bee's knees. Probably because he just wants to make killer radioactive puppets all day and the Thinker enables him.

So guess what the plot of this issue is?


The worst part of the whole thing is that the plan should work. Puppet Master takes over Ben and makes him attack Johnny while they're cruising around town in the Fantasticar. Johnny is knocked unconscious and plummets to his seeming death.

But Smilin' Stan pulls a surprise out of his butt, and has the stress of watching Johnny almost die trigger some sort of physiological change in Ben, turning him human for a few minutes. You know, just long enough to break the Puppet Master's hold on him and to rescue Johnny.

Then it's back to being a stony-faced monster.

You know, Stan Lee might be as big a c**t as Reed when it comes to Ben.

Anyway, it's a pretty useless story that doesn't amount to anything, even though it looks like this "stress change" thing might be something Reed would want to explore further.

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
"Doctor Strange: The Domain of The Dread Dormammu!"

At last!

This is one of those classic moments in Marvel History, where a truly transcendent character is established. The Dread Dormammu is someone by whom Dr. Strange has been swearing by since the beginning, calling on his powers whenever necessary to defeat one evil or another.

Who would have thought that a fella named The Dread anything wouldn't be a nice guy?

It appears that the battle with Loki a couple of months ago was something of a precursor to the introduction of another monstrously powerful mystical villain. Indeed, except for Loki, and by extension The Enchantress, there isn't really a magical challenge for Doctor Strange. We've seen him take on alien beings, haunted houses (sort of), and the recurring half-threat of Mordu, and none of them have been great challenges.

Sure Mordu has given him a run for his money now and then, but when it comes right down to it, Mordu is just a rival for Strange's own position.

Dormammu is something else entirely.

Dormammu rules his own dimension, and what a dimension it is! Ditko cuts loose this issue, creating a bizarre, surreal world with gigantic monsters and horror-masked henchmen, all gunning for Strange. It seems that Dormammu has decided, quite out of the blue, that he's coming to conquer our dimension.

The Ancient One, being ancient, isn't up to the task of stopping him this time, and so Dr. Strange is sent to face the Big Bad Smokefaced Bastard down. And this is exactly the sort of story I've been talking about wanting to see.

Things are actually at risk here. This isn't a few souls captured, or a title at stake. This is the fate of all reality. And Strange has to be up to the task or the whole Marvel Universe comes to an end. Not just as in conquered by aliens from another planet, either. This is another dimension where everything we think we know is fundamentally altered. Imagine Ditko's surreal worlds exploding into reality outside your window.

That's what I'm talking about!

Not only are we going to see Strange go toe-to-toe with a demonic entity to rival Loki, we get to see him work his way through a series of challenges, tricks, and straight-up monsters. Plus, he meets a mysterious, sexy lady along the way!

And this time it's not lame-o Cleopatra.

The only bad part about this issue is that it's just the first part of the story. We don't get to see the final confrontation this time out. But next issue promises to be one of the most exciting and important in the run so far.

Amazing Spider-Man #18
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
"The End of Spider-Man!"

After last issue nearly put me on suicide watch, I was hoping for a quick return to form for Pete, but no such luck. This issue spirals Pete down further and further until he finally balls up his suit and tosses it in the trash.

This is after running from a fight with Sandman and having every character in the Marvel Universe question his character and begin to believe that he just might be a coward.

It's a pretty heavy issue, really, and Lee and Ditko do a great job driving home just how tough Pete's got it. Being a high school kid with a sickly aunt and no real job isn't an easy way to live. And with May's heart attack last month, the cost of her medicine has emptied their bank account.

But May's a fighter. And after an issue of Peter trying to avoid anything even resembling danger for fear of what would happen to May if he's hurt or killed, it's her example that leads him to take up the mantle of Spider-Man again.

Next issue looks like it might feature the return of some major ass-kicking!

I hope so. I'm feeling kind of down after all this doom and gloom.

Tales to Astonish #61
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
Inker: George Roussos
"Now Walks The Android!"

Due to an unforeseen circumstance, the regularly scheduled artist for this adventure, Dick Ayers, is off on a brief vacation, according to a note at the beginning of this issue. Jumping in at the last minute to illustrate this story is Steve Ditko on pencils and George Bell (Roussos) on inks.

I'd almost think that Ayers just refused to draw the mindless idiocy that is this issue.

Honestly. This is the sort of story I might have written when I was ten years old, filled with nonsense and a complete lack of craft. We have guns that not only vibrate locks open, but with the flip of a switch also fire weight reduction rays. You know, so things can float. There's also a "living cell" ray that allows inanimate objects to get up and walk around. Add to that a weird nameless compound that when bathed in "ultra-beta beams" causes a mannequin to grow to Giant Man size. Then, by stepping into the "ultra-beta beams" the villain of the piece, Egghead, somehow (and quite painfully) links his own mind with his gigantic android.

Except it's not really an android. It's just a mannequin covered in weird pink putty.

And it may just be me, but the way Ditko lays out this sequence, it kind of seems like the "android" is raping Egghead. But just for a second or two. Then Egghead falls to his knees before the "android" in agony.


Anyway, Egghead then lures Giant Man and Wasp to a trap by sending them a letter offering to make a series of movies based on their adventures. So they meet up at a dark and deserted building that somehow Egghead has sealed off to make it entirely airtight. Yes, an entire building is going to run out of oxygen if Hank and Jan can't defeat the weird pink "android" that Egghead can now control with his mind.

Oh! And it can change its weight from feather light to weighing a ton. So one minute it can fly around lighter than air, then the next it can fall on Hank and pile drive him.

But just before Egghead is about to win once and for all, Hank starts spinning the "android" around, making Egghead dizzier and dizzier until he surrenders.

It all reminds me of an adventure story my friend Ben Martini and I came up with when we were children of about nine years of age. We were captured by terrorists while at a local restaurant and whisked away to a Turkish prison where we were fed nothing but lasagna. We saved our lasagna until it hardened and we were able to use it to file our way through the bars of our cell. Once out in the desert, Superman showed up to fly us home. The end.

I could really do without these stories and the "Johnny and Ben Show" in Strange Tales. It would be nice if they could combine these two worst comics in the Marvel line-up into one title so I could just skip them entirely.

Instead, I have to make my way through their nonsense to get to stories that might actually be worth reading.

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko
Inker: George Roussos
"The Incredible Hulk: Captured At Last!"

Well, not this month, it seems.

If anything, this second issue of the return of The Incredible Hulk just drives home that this is the wrong creative team for the story. Ditko's character designs lack energy and Lee's story is floundering around looking for a direction.

I really can't imagine anyone enjoying this more than the original Hulk series.

I also can't imagine who thought it was a good idea to make Banner's changes both into and back from the Hulk be triggered by stress. The initial change into the big green lug makes sense, but to have the transformation back to human triggered by another increase in stress does nothing but put the brakes on any action.

Can't have Hulk get too excited or angry, otherwise he might turn back into puny Banner. That's a horrible idea.

The only bright spot in this issue is the introduction of Security Chief, Major Glen Talbot, whose sole job is to investigate Banner. It seems that Thunderbolt Ross has finally gotten somebody to listen to his suspicions and check into Banner. Talbot is sure something is up with the sneaky scientist too, which is a plot development that has promise.

As does the attraction between Talbot and Betty.

I know, I know. I complain about how every character in the Marvel stable has romantic troubles and secrets that keep them away from the ones they love. But The Hulk is one of the only Marvel characters for whom this situation is actually suited.

So, while this is another pretty lackluster Hulk adventure, at least there are a couple of glimmers of hope for future story developments.

But what about the atomic robot that was such a huge threat?

It, and the man inside of it, wind up being dropped into a bottomless pit.

Yes, a bottomless pit.


Tales of Suspense #59
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Don Heck
"Battling The Black Knight!"

So that explains it!

In last month's Avengers, Iron Man commented to himself about how Pepper and Happy didn't trust his explanation for the disappearance of Tony Stark, and I was like, "Huh?" As it turns out, the explanation is in this issue's story.

According to Mondo Marvel reader, Neill, thanks to the publishing schedule, Daredevil, Journey Into Mystery, Avengers, X-Men, and Sgt. Fury were cover dated just two months ahead of their actual release, while the rest of the lineup was dated three months ahead! This is why there are some strange overlaps and weird occurrences with some of the titles' timing. Thanks, Neill!

I keep telling everyone that Mondo Marvel has the smartest readership on the Internet, and I'll keep saying it until somebody shows me some hard numbers to the contrary!

Meanwhile, back in this issue, we have a big battle with The Black Knight, but it's really not the actual focus. Unless Stan just wanted to emphasize how easy it is to escape from prison in the Marvel U. It's practically like The Black Knight just saved up his lasagna, really.

The main thrust of the issue, however, is the situating of Pepper and Happy against Iron Man. In addition to this dramatic tension, we also have the deterioration of Stark's medical condition.

By the time this issue wraps, Pepper and Happy think Iron Man is lying to them about the whereabouts of Stark, but Tony can't tell them the truth because his heart condition has worsened to the point where has to stay in the Iron Man armor.

It's a bad scene and I'm digging it, if for no other reason than it's an interesting new way of introducing tension and conflict to the storyline. It's a damn sight more intriguing than the typical unrequited love tension that Lee seems more comfortable falling back on. I really wish this would lead to Iron Man revealing his identity to the world. Oh well.

Oh! As an added bonus, in this issue we discover that every male member of The Avengers is a sexist pig and Wasp is a complete cliché! Sure, none of this was really a surprise, but it's a bit shocking to see Captain America say, "The trouble with girls is – they all act like females!"


Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Inker: Chic Stone
"Captain America!"

If anything's going to make up for that little outburst, it would be a non-stop action sequence where Captain America gets to cut loose and kick the asses of a whole room full of people.

Luckily, that just what we get here!

For some reason, it seems that Marvel can't launch Captain America in any form without priming the pump with a super villain disguising himself as Cap and being put down by another hero. They did it in Strange Tales before bringing Cap back in The Avengers #4, and then they did it last month here, having Iron Man face off against The Chameleon in a Cap suit.

But if this the end result, then I'm not complaining.

Stan and Jack launch Cap's solo adventures this month and right from the opening splash page, you can tell it's going to be something special. We've got a full page shot of Captain America busting through a glass window right at us! And it has nothing to do with the story. It's just an awesome opening page.

It's so awesome I'm considering buying a framed print of it while I type this. Don’t tell Dr. Girlfriend. EDIT: Bought it!

The real story starts with Cap hanging around Avengers Mansion getting ready to spend a quiet, boring evening minding the fort in case something bad happens. Even the Avengers' butler, Jarvis, is gone for the night.

Yeah! The introduction of Jarvis! I wonder if anyone realized that he would be a fixture of the Marvel Universe for the next 50 years?

Meanwhile a fella named Bull and his gang of thugs decided that if any chain can be broken when you strike the weakest link, then the weak link in the Avengers is the non-powered Captain America. If they can take him out, then they can steal the Avengers' Secret Plans.

Huh? What "secret plans" is he talking about?

Anyway, they kidnap Jarvis to find out who's on watch tonight and he tells them it's Cap. He also says it's no secret and asks why they didn't just phone? I like Jarvis.

Back at the Mansion, Cap is getting depressed looking through old photo books and thinking about Bucky. This is going to be a recurring theme, I can tell already. At least here he's somber, but not completely depressed. But then the action kicks in.

Bull and his thugs attack and the next seven full pages are all action. Kirby is at his best here and we get to see Cap using his brain as well as his brawn to take down Bull's gang (including the hulking guy in the suit of armor!).

This story is simple, but like the best of the "Tales of Asgard", it's all about the execution. And when allowed to cut loose, Kirby action is visceral and exciting like that of no other artist working at Marvel. The action simply flows across the page and practically moves, as if were being animated right in front of your eyes.

I love this story.

Can you tell?

Journey Into Mystery #110
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Chic Stone
"Every Hand Against Him!"

This is the beginning of another two-parter and it also features the return of The Cobra and Mr. Hyde. I'm not sure why they seem to be Thor's most common enemies. I guess Mr. Hyde is an interesting parallel to Thor, but what the hell's up with The Cobra? Does he really have any powers besides being creepy and fast? He sure can slink around like nobody's business.

Even with the power-up that Loki gives him this month, he's still just really, really fast and slinky. I guess his whole slithering up walls thing is unnerving, but I still don't think it puts him in Thor's league.

An amped up Mr. Hyde, on the other hand, does pose a threat.

Especially when he's given some guidance by Loki.

At Loki's urging, Cobra and Hyde kidnap Jane, and when Thor lets them get away in order to keep from endangering her, Odin finds out and gets bent out of shape about his son still pining for a human lady. As punishment, Thor gets himself banished to Earth.

Which, of course, tips him off to who's really behind his enemies' plan. So he high-tails it to Asgard and fights his way through Heimdall and Odin's Imperial Command.

As with this month's Captain America adventure, these pages of straight-up action and battle are the strongest in the comic. I wish we could just get tons of fights and avoid the soap opera elements, but what can you do?

A ticked off Odin kicks Thor out of Asgard again, and he takes the fight to Cobra and Hyde, and in the process causes a huge explosion that knocks Jane unconscious and into critical condition. Unable to save her, Thor whips up a convenient little Time Warp around the whole house, essentially slipping it outside of time.

It's a little bit of a cheat, but whereas the Human Torch/Thing and Giant Man/Wasp adventures had cheats that just came out of nowhere and signaled poor writing, in this case we already know that Thor's hammer has strangely vague time travel capabilities, so this whole Time Warp thing, while a stretch, is acceptable to me.

But that's where this cliffhanger ends! Jane's in a coma and Thor is going to kick some Cobra and Hyde butt. It looks like next issue might be a good one!

Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Vince Colletta
"Tales of Asgard: The Defeat of Odin!"

While these "Tales of Asgard" are still just as pretty as they've always been, and Kirby's use of oversized panels to tell his stories is still just amazing, the stories have started to slip.

The real problem is, I think, that we've moved away from stories really based on the Norse Mythology that made the earlier installments so interesting. Instead of short glimpses into the beginnings of the Marvel Universe before time and history, we're getting odd little short pieces that have weak twists at the end.

This time out, Odin is defeated in battle by the young, untried inheritor to the throne of a rival ruler, Rivvak. The whole thing kind of stinks from the start when Odin doesn't actually attack at their weakest point, instead charging head-on despite Thor's advice. The enemy army is doubtful of Rivvak's ability to lead them, too.

But then, in order to save their horses from erupting flames, Odin signals a retreat. This encourages Rivvak's forces and they win the day.

But that's okay. Odin lost on purpose. Because, you know, he wants to further the clearly false idea that there's no such thing as an unbeatable enemy. He gave up so that humanity would be inspired to fight against all odds when necessary.

Nevermind the fact that Odin was clearly unbeatable and just threw the battle. That's false hope the All-Father is dishing out there, not real hope or inspiration.

I wonder how many people in history died because of this?

Way to not really think out your lessons, there, Odin.

The Avengers #10
Writer: Stan Lee
Art: Don Heck
Inking: Dick Ayers
"The Avengers Break Up!"

I'm not sure at all what this title has to do with this story. The Avengers don't break up in this issue. Yeah, Cap goes a little batty, but it's nowhere near as catastrophic as the title would make it sound.

This issue does an interesting job at establishing that Cap is precariously close to having a nervous breakdown at just about any moment. This becomes particularly true whenever Rick Jones is around.

The rest of the Avengers, however, think having Rick around is a swell idea and propose making him a full-fledged member of the team. Well, the men do, anyway. Wasp is nowhere to be seen during this portion of the story. In fact, she plays such a limited and useless role in the rest of the adventure, that when each member of the team is forced to single-handedly face off against a villain from history (more on that in a minute), she's not included at all.

Except for the brief moment when she tries to cheat and help out Hank.

But back to Cap and his imminent mental breakdown.

I know and understand that Bucky was important to the man. And I know and understand that losing Bucky was a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching experience. Especially when combined with waking up twenty years out of time. But, Cap's dedication to not letting another young man follow him into danger and possibly die as a result, is a little on the annoying side.

Especially when, as in his solo story discussed above, he is the king of kick-ass swashbuckling, acrobatic derring-do. I can't wait for him to settle into his elder statesman role and stop moping around all the time.

This issue falters on another level, though. While it's entertaining to see Cap taking on the rest of the team in a training session (and then in actual combat against them), it's kind of an empty experience. The villain of the piece is Immortus, who, we're told, is the Master of Time! The one who rules the mystic realm of Limbo, where things never change!

Okay, sure. Whatever all that means.

He shows up to "join" the Masters of Evil, sort of. He wants to help them defeat the Avengers so he can then rule over everything, blah blah blah. Zemo says sure, figuring if he kills the Avengers, he wins, and if they beat Immortus, he still wins.

I was willing to give Immortus the benefit of the doubt, and even some style points for pulling warriors from throughout time to do his bidding. I'm afraid that's just because I know who he is. If I were reading this for the first time, I'm not so sure I'd be as forgiving. But when the first warrior from history he chooses is Paul Bunyan it's just too stupid for words.

I suppose Paul Bunyan could be real in the Marvel Universe.

That doesn't make it less stupid, though.

Then we get Giant Man vs. the biblical Goliath, Iron Man vs. Merlin (in a green robe and pointy hat all covered with purple stars, no less), and finally, Thor vs. Hercules (which is interesting, if only because we all know that Hercules will eventually become a recurring character in the Marvel Universe). Immortus then snatches Cap and steals off with him through time.

With Immortus defeated and on the run, the Masters of Evil decide to attack the Avengers. You know, because with Cap gone, they're more vulnerable. What? That doesn't make any sense at all.

They get their asses handed to them yet again, but before final victory can be achieved, The Enchantress casts a spell that takes them back in time to the beginning of the story. This time, instead of letting Immortus drop by unannounced, they reject him.

And thus, this entire issue never really happened. Seriously.

The end.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that due to a coloring error, for the majority of the issue, Thor seems to have forgotten his leggings and is running around fighting crime in his underpants.

Yeah, this is a good one, all right.

The X-Men #8
Writer: Stan Lee
Art: Jack Kirby
Inking: Chic Stone
"Unus, The Untouchable!"

This issue of X-Men, however, is actually quite good.

With Professor X gone, Slim Summers is really taking his role as leader to heart. Unfortunately, it's to the detriment of his relationship with the rest of the team. His training sessions are a little too intense and the gang is starting to champ at the bit.

So with the afternoon off, Beast and Iceman head out for some towny action. However, when Hank and Bobby see a child in danger, Hank tosses off his shoes and saves the tyke. The gathered crowd reacts as one might expect a crowd to react in Marvel New York. They form a mob and try to kill the mutants.

Because they're so much different from the other genetic freaks swinging and flying around town. Plus, how dare these horrible mutants save a child!

One fellow even suggests that they only did it to make themselves seem less like a threat to humanity. Man, New Yorkers are a tough bunch to please.

Nearly getting lynched puts Hank in a shitty mood, as you can understand, and he quits the X-Men. For reals! He seriously quits and even says Magneto has the right idea about human beings!

That's kind of awesome.

Not knowing what to do, Scott psychically summons Professor X and asks for advice. And get this! Xavier is in "the heart of the Balkans, in Europe – descending into an almost bottomless cave." Why is this, you ask? Oh, he's just on the trail of Lucifer! And he may never return!

WTF? Lucifer? Bottomless cave? WTF?

Anyway, with that little distraction just tossed aside as if it were nothing, we get back to Hank, who's making a go of it on the wrestling circuit. Do you ever get the feeling that Stan Lee really wanted to be a wrestler when he was young? It seems to be the default job opportunity in the Marvel Universe.

Hank faces off against the "Champion of All Time", Unus. And as you could probably guess, Unus is a mutant. His power is interesting. He can't be touched. No matter how hard you pound at him, no matter what you throw at him, it just bounces off of the force field around him. He can touch you, though.

And that came out a lot creepier than intended.

It seems that Unus is looking to audition for Magneto and wants to join the Evil Mutants. His test: find the X-Men, or beat one of them. As it turns out, he pretty much beats them all. It's only some quick thinking by Angel that puts a halt to the beating, when, as Unus grabs him, he takes off and strands the villain on top of a skyscraper.

It's Hank who saves the day, though, as he grudgingly returns to the team and uses his super smarts to whip up a weapon to boost Unus' power to an uncontrollable level. In the meantime, the rest of the team treats him like crap.

But they just don't understand his genius. Which, it seems to me, could make him a lot more money than wrestling, but go figure.

You see, by boosting Unus' power, he's made it so not only can Unus not be touched, Unus can't touch anything either. The bastard's going to starve to death unless he surrenders.

It's a pretty cold-hearted, bad-ass move on Hank's part, and it makes me wonder if the right guy was left in charge.

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #12
Writer: Stan Lee
Art: Dick Ayers
Inking: George Roussos
"When A Howler Turns Traitor!"

Continuing on with this theme of turncoat teammates, this month Sgt. Fury orders Dino to pretend to desert and use his acting abilities to find the location from which the Nazis are launching Buzz Bombs, after the Howlers' search for the launch site hits a dead end.

And instead of telling the rest of the Howlers what the plan is, Fury decides to keep it to himself. I really don't understand why. I mean, Fury rationalizes it by saying the Howlers will react more believably if they think Dino has deserted, but there's really no reason for them to pretend anything anyway.

It's an annoying little story affectation that really only serves to trigger the surprise twist in the final act of the story, when Fury is captured by the Nazis and Dino, after destroying the launch site (it was on a train, which is why it couldn't be found, since it was moving around), is court-marshaled. With the only person who knows he was following orders and pretending to desert missing in action, Dino is almost put up in front of a firing squad.

Luckily, Fury escapes a prison camp just in time to stop the shooting.

I would have been much more impressed if Dino had been executed and Fury had to live with what he did.

But we're not going to get a story like that. And because of that pulling back, this issue ends up just being average. I appreciated the innovation of the basic problem, but I'm afraid I wanted a little more.

I think I may be getting tired of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos.

And with that, we say goodbye to Mondo Marvel for another month, while reminding ourselves that even back in the Forties, everyone in the Marvel Universe was willing to believe the worst about even their very best friends at the drop of a hat.

Living in the MU is a bitch.

Until next time, Wah-hoo!

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