Monday, May 18, 2009

Review: Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #1: Shotgun Opera

Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #1, written by Jesse Alexander, art by John Paul Leon, 2009, Marvel, 40 pages, $3.99

This action-adventure comic is worth flipping through to see the excellent artwork of John Paul Leon, but I can't say that the story was a success.

In 1942, Sergeant Fury and his Howling Commandos parachute behind enemy lines, kill some Germans, blow some stuff up, meet a Russian spy, and blow more stuff up.

It's got an old-school "ain't war fun?" outlook (writer Alexander has said that he was trying to get back to the mentality of the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee books) but in its haste to pack in So! Much! Excitement! it tries to do way too much. We've got tanks, planes, submarines, nuclear bombs, a "warbot," several different villians, etc., etc. There are some neat kernels of ideas in here, but nothing is given any time to breathe and develop before the Commandos race on to the next idea. It just becomes overwhelming and meaningless, unfortunately.

Moreover, I'm all for actiony-war stories, but it helps if the characters appear to be in real danger. Here, I was never worried for any of the Commandos, let alone the invincible Fury.

But as I said, you should check out the art. Here's an uncolored, unlettered example:

(click to enlarge)

John Paul Leon's work has a rough-n-ready vibe that would make Joe Kubert proud, combined with an attention to detail and character that helps the reader to suspend his or her disbelief, even in the face of stunts like this:

(click to enlarge)

Sure, it's fantasy, but man that tank looks great. Seriously, though, Leon's work is dynamic and perfect for this genre. I only wish they had whittled this thing down to a more mangeable story.

Read more: Here's an interview with Alexander.

Buy it: from Heavy Ink.

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