Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos

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 Timothy Aloysius Cadwallader "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)
- 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).

As the magazine Jack Kirby Collector wrote in 1999, "Today that's no big deal but in 1963, comics heroes simply didn't die; not permanently, anyway. Suddenly, with the death of 'Junior' Juniper, the series acquired some real cachet. It now played like a true-life war drama where people got killed and never came back. You wondered who would be next."
- 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 (Feb. 1966).

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).

Fury's company commander was Captain Samuel "Happy Sam" Sawyer.

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