LOADING ...

Fury in disguise

simon-on-the-river3 Jan 20, 2019. 0 comments

I’ve been sorting through things I had in storage and one such treasure is a 1977 Marvel Comic that tried its darnedest not to look like a Marvel Comic. The other year, a commentator on i09 told me that Neil Tennant (before the Pet Shop Boys and Smash Hits) had harboured a desire to launch a British-style war comic. What came next was Captain Britain, but that’s a different story.

I’m not sure how much control Tennant had over the content of the titles he shepherded, but a run of Sergeant Fury and The Howling Commandos reprints started in The Mighty World of Marvel #220 in 1976. Apparently readers had demanded it (I’ve just seen this issue on Amazon for $130 which boggles the mind ). So the Lee-Kirby war series sat alongside the Hulk, Luke Cage and Daredevil for the next few weeks. It was kind of fun to see those initial issues of the Howlers adventures reprinted. Although the Marvel UK range had stuck to superheroes, fantasy and horror in those days, testing the ground for a war comic made a certain sense. Such things were big business in the UK comic scene and Marvel was a relatively small player.

For Fleetway and DC Thomson, comics such as Battle Picture Weekly and Warlord were big sellers, alongside assorted digest titles such as Commando . It might have seemed a little old fashioned but Victor held its ground, Action was ruffling feathers, and the likes of Hotspur and Tiger were going strong. Mind you, I was a bit of a Marvel Zombie then and my interest in these titles drifted. (Rebellion have recently revived the Battle brand for a number of projects).

Anyway, come March 1977, I popped into our local Forbouys on a Wednesday morning to find Fury #1 on the counter. I don’t recall any promotion before hand. It came out cold and had the gift of a little plastic aircraft to entice readers. These would become common and unimaginative covermounts for Marvel. Might still have mine somewhere. Readers were treated to another model plane in issue two and issue three came with a terribly upmarket poster reproducing an oil painting from the Imperial War Museum (which I can’t find at present). Content wise, the comic presented the Lee-Kirby Sgt Fury and The Howling Commandos, odd short stories from Fifties Atlas titles and Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders. There were some features, contests, a commando club (join for 30p, get a wallet and decoder ring). But they skipped the glossy cover, removed the credits and made a half-arsed attempt to emulate the look of their rivals. The Marvel name was kept to the small print. I believe the first issue cover is the first artwork that Dave Gibbons produced for Marvel. Can anyone confirm or deny?

It didn’t really fly. The Sixties/Fifties reprints were competing against titles that were trying to shale up a genre that despite its popularity was increasingly being viewed as old fashioned. Charlie’s War it wasn’t.

Where they did score was the covers. After the opening salvo from Gibbons, Marvel hired Carlos Ezquerra to provide artwork that had a bit more fizz than the inside pages. His art was a regular feature of Battle and he had also recently started drawing something called Judge Dredd.

Ultimately, snazzy covers alone do not make a comic popular. Fury lasted until issue 25. The final issue came out in August 1977 and united the Howlers and Leatherneck Raiders in a single story (The Peacemonger, a reprint of Sgt Fury #64).

The final issue had an accidental symbolism by using a diving submarine on the cover. They were still recruiting for the Commando Club though.

Being comics, the story wasn’t over. A special ad informed readers that Sgt Fury and the Howlers were heading back to the pages of The Mighty World of Marvel. A similar ad in MWOM seemed a bit more dynamic. The move hastened the end of Tomb of Dracula reprints until MWOM underwent a more drastic metamorphosis into Marvel Comic as part of the Marvel Revolution.

In the meantime, despite the return of the Howlers, the Hulk resumed his coverstar status on MWOM. The logo would soon be amended to read Sgt, Fury. Inside, the Hulk, Fury, Captain Marvel , Daredevil line up persisted until a merger with The Complete Fantastic Four (don’t ask!). Fury would make a return to Marvel UK a few years later in the Paul Neary edited Forces in Combat (1980). It was an attempt to emulate the traditional British adventure comic. Apart from the Howlers it sported Shang-Chi, Kull, Machine Man, Rom. War is Hell, Rawhide Kid and a total outsider, Ron Embleton’s Wulf the Briton. That lasted 37 issues before being merged with Future Tense. Wonder if my set will surface?

Other simon-on-the-river3's posts

Charnock wins Clarke prize Charnock wins Clarke prize

The Arthur C Clarke Award for 2018 has been won by Anne Charnock for her novel Dreams Before The Start Of Time. The tale depicts a world where artificial wombs are the preferred choice of gestating babies. The award was presented this evening at Foyles Bookshop in London. It is the 32nd presentation of the prize which was £2,018....

Pie of the Day - Apple Pie Pie of the Day - Apple Pie

It had to be. The American symbol of the cult of Momism is today’s pie. Apple pie. The humble apple pie is pretty staple here as well. My grandmother used to let the spare room to exchange students. A French student who went on to become a firm family friend extended his stay picking fruits at a local orchard...

Who is your favourite Martian? Who is your favourite Martian?

There seem to be a lot of Martians about lately. And it’s their week so to speak. A new version of War of the Worlds is looming, some conspiracy radio guy was talking about them last night, and I’ve been getting grumpy about missing Red Moons and nostalgic about the one that came through .So before you can shake...

Eats nuts and shares butts Eats nuts and shares butts

I’ve heard of King Rats before, where an ensemble of rats entwine tails and become a gestalt entity. But now squirrels in Wisconsin are doing the same. Does Squirrel Girl know? A tale of five squirrels: vets untangle 'Gordian Knot' of rodentsWildlife centre operates to save animals’ tails that became entwined with each other and their nestRead more Read...

Suggested posts

2018 Comics Round-Up 2018 Comics Round-Up

Batman’s Bookcase asked me for comic book recommendations, and there aren’t ever enough characters to contain all my feelings. Here’s an attempt.Linked book titles lead to full reviews on DoomRocket.OngoingAs yet uncollected limited series and ongoing titles I’m reading right now that you should be, too. THE NEW WORLDAlesš Kot, Tradd Moore, Heather Moore, Clayton Cowles, Tom Muller. Image...

You All Need to Read Lois Lane #1 You All Need to Read Lois Lane #1

Last week, Lois Lane #1, the first issue of a 12-issue maxi-series starring intrepid reporter and Superman’s wife Lois Lane, came out. It was written by Greg Rucka (Gotham Central, Wonder Woman) and illustrated by Mike Perkins. You need to buy it. Right now.I don’t want to spoil things too much, because being surprised is part of the fun,...

Happy Birthday Starlord Happy Birthday Starlord

Forty years and one week ago, an amazing science fiction themed comic landed on newsagent counters. It had some compelling features, some of which are still running today, crisp paper and jazzy painted artwork. This was Starlord. Edited by 2000ad founder Kevin Gosnell, this new weekly from Fleetway applied a similar dynamic to a publication with higher publication values....

Wonder Woman/Conan is a Blood-Soaked Adventure About First Loves Wonder Woman/Conan is a Blood-Soaked Adventure About First Loves

I stopped reading the main DC Wonder Woman book after Greg Rucka finished his run, but there is a Wonder Woman book that I am currently reading: Wonder Woman/Conan by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti. It is fantastic in all meanings of the word. The writer/artist team really is the best fit for this book — Simone and Lopresti...

So What's Going On With the X-Men? So What's Going On With the X-Men?

Marvel recently announced that it was bringing back Uncanny X-Men, starting it off with a ten-part weekly story called “DISASSEMBLED.” But what brought us to here and what have the X-Men been doing up until now?The new Uncanny X-Men series certainly boasts a murderers row of writers and artists:Writers Ed Brisson (EXTERMINATION), Kelly Thompson (MR. AND MRS. X), and...

Rebellion buys comics treasure trove Rebellion buys comics treasure trove

Oxford based Games Developer and 2000AD publisher Rebellion has bought an treasure trove of British comic titles from TI Media (previously known as Time Inc). Material includes the original comic weekly Comic Cuts, launched by Daily Mail founder Alfred Harmsworth in 1890, Robot Archie, Billy Bunter, Sexton Blake, the Jerry Siegel Spider, and The Trigan Empire. It includes work...

The Gifted Might Be This Season's Most Political Show The Gifted Might Be This Season's Most Political Show

The X-Men have always been a metaphor for minorities, but aside from a few lines here and there (including the famous “Have you tried not being a mutant?”), the movies have pretty much glossed over that. To be fair, a lot of X-Men comics themselves gloss over the fact to simply try and tell compelling superhero stories, but there...

Christopher Priest Returns to Black Panther Christopher Priest Returns to Black Panther

Christopher Priest is returning to write Black Panther...for one story only. In Black Panther Annual #1, famous Black Panther writers Don McGregor, Christopher Priest, and Reginald Hudlin return to write three new stories about T’Challa, Wakanda, and...Everett K. Ross.Newsarama has a great interview with Priest right here about returning to write Black Panther and Everett K. Ross.Newsarama: Priest, your Black...

Contribute to this IndieGoGo Campaign to Help William Messner-Loebs Contribute to this IndieGoGo Campaign to Help William Messner-Loebs

I’ve written before about William Messner-Loebs , a comic book writer and artist who was big in the ‘90s (he wrote for The Flash, Wonder Woman, and The Maxx) before having a lot of bad luck resulted in him and his wife becoming practically homeless. Now, there is an IndieGoGo campaign called A Benefit Book for William Messner-Loebs which...

WednesdayBookClub: A Day Too Late? WednesdayBookClub: A Day Too Late?

Um, this is a bit awkward. I’m on vacation and so time is a bit wonky for me. My bad, y’all. Okay, so this week I’ve read Vol 2 of Thor, Vol 1 of Ms. Marvel and probably on my way to the comic book store again for some more stuff (Possibly the Power Rangers Shatter Gird comics). What about...

Language