Monday, June 28, 2010

Secret Warriors #17

I admit to being a big fan of the '60s war comic Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos comic, so even if I wasn't already a fan of Secret Warriors, I would have bought this comic for its title, "The Last Ride of the Howling Commandos."

Of course, the Howlers are a big problem for modern-day Marvel continuity. It was one thing for Nick Fury and the Howlers to show up in early Marvel issues, set a mere 15 years (or so) after the end of the war - but the Howlers are mere mortals, after all, and since they fought in the war, today they'd be 90 years old (give or take a few years).

It's the same problem with all the WWII heroes and villains. Most can get around it thanks to suspended animation (Captain America and the Red Skull) or the nature of their powers (Namor ages slowly because he's an Atlantean, the original Human Torch is an android) - but those rules don't apply to regular humans.

They solved that problem with Fury some years ago, revealing that he had been experimented on back during the war with a formula that keeps him eternally youthful (more or less). I never understood why they didn't arrange the story so it happened to all the Howlers, since it wouldn't have been difficult to give them similar treatment.

Which brings us to this story, with writer Jonathan Hickman tackling this thorny problem. The issue centers around a reunion of the Howling Commandos. There we discover that not all the Howlers are still with us (a fact I'm pretty sure hasn't been revealed before this), but there's no explanation for why the ones who do remain look like they're in their 60s or 70s (at worst), not their 80s or 90s - or how Gabe Jones and Dum Dum Dugan are still able to be active members of Fury's organization.

Still, it's good to see this band of brothers back together again, though the title of the series gives us cause for concern.

I really like the artwork by Alessandro Vitti - it's dark, grim and full of energy, even when the characters are just sitting there talking.

And the whole comic is worth picking up just for the flashback sequences with the Howling Commandos and Captain America on D-Day.

Considering the events in this issue, I'm anxiously waiting for the next issue to see the truth behind the title. Surely the Howlers aren't about to yell their last "Wah-hoo?"

Grade: A-

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