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Nick Fury's Howling Commandos #1

"Creatures on the Loose!"

Book Released: 19 October 2005
Review posted: 19 October 2005

Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Eduardo Francisco
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Ink: Kris Justice & Terry Pallot
Colors: J. Tai
Publisher: Marvel Comics


 3.20 out of 5 Stars

Reviewed by J. W. DeBolt Jr.

 


October is Monster Month at Marvel, with a handful of new books with old titles coming out — Devil Dinosaur, Monsters on the Prowl, and Where Monsters Dwell among them. Then there’s Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos — a covert paramilitary team of monsters carrying heavy weaponry. Sometimes fangs and claws just aren’t enough.

Reluctant S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Clay Quartermain is brought in to lead this new team of Howling Commandoes — some of whom actually howl. The operatives are “monsters” that are conscripted into the unit. They include a version of Frankenstein’s creation, a zombie, a talking gorilla and Warwolf. Warwolf is a new character, and the others are archetypical monsters, but I like how a couple of them are revived from Marvel’s 4,700-character library, namely Gorilla Man, the Living Mummy and Nina Price — “Vampire By Night”, who is Jack Russell’s niece (Jack was “Werewolf By Night,” so I guess “By Night” is a family name. Italian, maybe?). If I was writing a new Marvel monster book, I’d go back and get some of the known and unknown, like Scarecrow, Zzutak, Zog and It.


“Sometimes fangs and claws just arenít enough.”


Area 13 is the jurisdiction that the HC work under within S.H.I.E.L.D. To quote the book, “Area 13 is a deep cover base of operations ... primary function: utilization of superstitious dread, if not outright horror, as a ‘shock and awe’ bludgeon.” Notwithstanding that people seem less superstitious nowadays, it’s a concept with potential. Really, though, superstition does still surround us. Do we not clink glasses before drinking to drive away demons? Don’t people in the U.S.A. and several European countries avoid crossing a black cat’s path (while it’s good luck in yet other places)? People worship the earth and think that it will retaliate if we don’t treat it right. People dread Friday the 13ths, though there have been many Wednesdays, Mondays, 5ths and 12ths that have been worse for people. Horoscopes are real popular, too; they would not even be amusing if we had no kernel of superstition down deep.

In the opening of this story, the HC assault a genetic manipulation complex run by Lords of the Living Lightning, a group that provides high-tech weapons to terrorist groups while trying to bring about a doomsday battle so they can lord it over the survivors. Everyone needs a hobby. We get an exciting battle scene with great Commando repartee that evokes that of the original Howling Commandos (such as Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan, who both appear briefly here).


“Primary function: utilization of superstitious dread, if not outright horror, as a ‘shock and awe’ bludgeon.”


While the writing by Keith Giffen (Legion of Super-Heroes) dealt extensively with the smell (zombies and wolves aren’t know for their flowery scents), the visuals by Eduardo Francisco (Victory) did not exactly come out smelling like roses for me. The art isn’t clear in places — especially in the red-lit interior of the L.O.L.L. compound the commandos strike in Afghanistan. The backgrounds are detailed but the character depictions are rough and exaggerated and remind me of Sal Abbinanti’s art in Atomika and of Tony Skinner’s work in Roger Corman’s Death Race 2020 comicbook. The writing is good enough, though, that for now I can tolerate the overly-stylized art — as long as I don’t have to squint too much. We get an idea of some of the commandos’ charactertistics in this first issue, and they seem such a fun lot that I’m looking forward to seeing what every member is like and how they will interact in upcoming issues.


—CCdC—

 

 

 

Cover image used without explicit permission in accordance with the "Fair Use" provision of US copyright law.

 

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