ISSUE #1:

The series opens in 1944, a few weeks prior to the D-Day Invasion. the Howlers are introduced in a double-page spread: Sgt. Fury (the leader of the squad), Cpl. "Dum-Dum" Dugan (former circus strangman), "Rebel" Ralston (ex-jockey), "Junior Juniper (Ivy Leaguer), Gabe Jones (trumpet player), Izzy Cohen (mechanic) and Dino Manelli (movie star). The Howlers are under the command of "Happy Sam" Sawyer, "battle-hardened exec officer of the commandos 'able company.'"

The leader of the French underground has been captured by the Nazis. the Howlers' mission: rescue him. After parachuting behind enemy lines into occupied France, their mission proceeds in straightforward fashion. [HIGHLIGHT: Dum-Dum takes down a Messerschmidt... with a hand grenade... while parachuting!] They succeed in the rescue, and the final caption reads: "One June 6, 1944... the first wave of the allied invasion forces hit Omaha Beach! And, in the forefront of the attack were seven Howling Commandos--but that's a tale for another time!:

NEXT: Another time.

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What happens next? I've got to know!

And I sure hope nothing happens to Junior Juniper. He's my favorite Howler!

Seriously, I never realized that they launched the series that close to the end of the war. One must assume that most the adventures printed later happened earlier -- in '42 or '43.

IIRC, Gabe Jones was colored white in the first issue because  someone didn't tell the colorist that Gabe was black.

I enjoy the Sgt. Fury stories better if I imagine that they all have some low-level super-powers!

This says it was true.

"D-DAY" - KING-SIZE SPECIAL #2:

The Howlers' part in the invasion started the day before D-Day itself. the plan had three phases...

PHASE I: Sneak ashore using scuba gear just before dawn on June 5, 1944.

PHASE II: Manelli and Cohen, disguised as messengers, deliver invitations to high ranking Nazi officers. Using flattery and promises of promotion, they invited them to attend a fake party set up by the frend underground. the officers were were captured, leaving a number of troops leaderless for the attack the next day.

PHASE III: Attack and disable a nearby airfield leaving the defenders of the beach mostly without air support.

After this they were captured and questioned, but none of the Howlers broke. When Hitler was told that it was Sgt. Fury and his commandos who had been captured, he ordered them brought before a firing squad. Just before they would have been executed, they were saved by the French underground. Making their way to Normandy Beach, they attack many of the defensive pillboxes from behind, then they run into the surf to show the attacking forces the way. Pinned down by gunfire, it is Sgt. Fury himself who rallies the troops to charge. All of the Howlers acquit themselves admirably, but (brace yourself, Cap), Junior Juniper has been replaced by Pinky Pinkerton. The battle lasts throughout the day, but the Howlers survive and are left alone with their thoughts as they are picked up by a Navy PT boat.

NEXT: The Howlers in Korea!

SPECIAL KING-SIZE ANNUAL #1:

This story begins with Lt. Col Sawyer pinning a gold second lieutenant bar on Fury's collar! the rest of the issue flashes back and builds up to that point. when the Korean conflict broke out, all of the Howlers re-enlisted and were all promoted. (You will be relieved to learn that all seven of them survived WWII.) Sam Sawyer was allowed to re-form the Howlers under his command. The U.S. forces are constrained from crossing the Yalu River at the 38th Parallel. the Howlers' mission is to be dropped a mile off the caost, swim to shore in frogman gear, make their way to the Red base 10 miles inland and destroy it. 

what's unusual is that "Happy" sam Sawyer himself is going to be their field commander. Fury's ambivalent about this decision. In their first push, Col. Sawyer takes a slug in the shoulder and is left behind with the remote detonator if Fury and his men are not able to detonate the explosives themselves. When the time comes, he sets off the explosions not knowing whether they got to safety or not. Luckily, they had. then Sawyer reveals the true reason for his going on the mission. Knowing that he's getting up there in age and didn't want a stranger in command of the Howlers, he arranged to award Fury a battlefield commission so that he could one day assume command.

NEXT: Viet Nam

Jeff of Earth-J said:

This story begins with Lt. Col Sawyer pinning a gold second lieutenant bar on Fury's collar! the rest of the issue flashes back and builds up to that point. when the Korean conflict broke out, all of the Howlers re-enlisted and were all promoted. (You will be relieved to learn that all seven of them survived WWII.)

Since their regular issues were still chronicling their WWII adventures, this story eliminated the possibility that any of the remaining Howlers would die in those earlier adventures. I was reading the title at the time and people weren’t happy about this.

The U.S. forces are constrained from crossing the Yalu River at the 38th Parallel. the Howlers' mission is to be dropped a mile off the caost, swim to shore in frogman gear, make their way to the Red base 10 miles inland and destroy it.

I don’t remember the story details, but were they saying that the Howlers couldn’t cross the Korean DMZ? Back then my knowledge of the Korean War was minimal, so I wouldn’t have known better. The DMZ was crossed by the North Koreans in an invasion. After the UN decision, the U.S. and allied countries took over most of North Korea. When they got too close to the Chinese border the Chinese army got involved. Crossing the DMZ wouldn’t have been an issue then.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

This story begins with Lt. Col Sawyer pinning a gold second lieutenant bar on Fury's collar! the rest of the issue flashes back and builds up to that point. when the Korean conflict broke out, all of the Howlers re-enlisted and were all promoted. (You will be relieved to learn that all seven of them survived WWII.) 

Richard Willis said:

Since their regular issues were still chronicling their WWII adventures, this story eliminated the possibility that any of the remaining Howlers would die in those earlier adventures. I was reading the title at the time and people weren’t happy about this.

I never got that logic, that you can't enjoy a story if it's known the character won't die before the end. To my mind, you don't read a story to see if the character dies; you read it to see how he doesn't die.

"(You will be relieved to learn that all seven of them survived WWII.)"

I said that with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek (like Cap's comment about Junior Juniper). I'm well aware of the controversy surrounding this story. I was just trying to provoke a reaction. Actually, I think Stan Lee was aware of it, too, as his final caption reads (in part): "In our enthusiasm, we may have colored a detail or two, but that's pretty much the way Nick Fury began his rapid rise to full chicken-colonel in the C.I.A.!"

"I don’t remember the story details, but were they saying that the Howlers couldn’t cross the Korean DMZ?"

Not at all. Here's the way Lee set it up: "Remember the way the Red MIG jets roared down from across the Yalu River to attack the U.N. troops? And the way the allied Pamnther jets blazed to meet the challenge, but always had to turn back at the Yalu? There was no doubt about it--we were the 'good guys' as usual, fighting by the rules--stopping at the 38th Parallel... while the commies hit us with everything they had from their dug-in positions! We were out-numbered, out-flanked, but never out fought!"

At command headquarters, a general says, "We can't send our planes across the Yalu to bomb the Reds' supply bases because it might start World War III! But, if a few picked men could make it--!"

That's like saying you can't enjoy a Legion of Super-Heroes story because you know that Superboy will survive!

Of course, people said that about series like Invaders and All Star Squadron but they were very enjoyable to me. And they still got to kill super-heroes.

True it was the Red Bee but you can't have everything!

Philip Portelli said:

That's like saying you can't enjoy a Legion of Super-Heroes story because you know that Superboy will survive!

People do say that. Lots of people.

I don't get it.

I just realized we are talking apples and oranges. The 38th Parallel is the border between North and South Korea, which after the armistice was established as the DMZ.

The Yalu River is the border with China, so yeah, you wouldn't bomb China. . 

KING-SIZE SPECIAL #3:

A splash-page caption places the action in the summer of 1967, the same summer the annual was released. The story begins in medias res with Fury in North Viet Nam about to walk into a Viet Cong ambush. After the initial skirmish, the action flashes back 48 hours as Air Force One lands aboard the SHIELD heli-carrier. President Johnson explains that the North Vietnamese are developing a hydrogen bomb and, for diplomatic reasons, it must be taken out by a civilian force to avoid escalation. At this point, Fury sets about "getting the band back together again."

Dino Manelli has his own TV show; Izzy Cohen owns a garage in Flatbush; Eric Koenig is a commercial pilot; Percy Pinkerton is the owner of a Playboy-like club; and Robert Ralston is a United States congressman. They all agree to participate in the mission. (Gabe Jones and Dum-Dum Dugan, of course, already work with Fury at SHIELD.) Sam Sawyer, now a general, is once again their commander, and assigns Jasper Sitwell to the team as well. their target is a weapons factory in Haiphong.

By now we're about half way into this 43 page story. I'm not going to provide a play-by-play description of the action, but it reads very much like a standard WWII story, but set in Viet Nam. "And so, the mission which may well be their last ended successfully. The Howling Commandos go their separate ways... their hearts empty at the thought that they may never again share another adventure... but filled with the memories of past glory and comradeship the likes of which few men ever know!"

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