HOWLING COMMANDOS of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Kate (and Dan)

Marvel Comics

October 2015


::It’s Halloween at the Asylum in St. Paul::

D: Hey Red, check out my costume!

K: Skinny Jew Kid?

D: That’s my everyday costume.

K: It’s a very natural look for you.

D: You haven’t even commented on the fact that I’m standing here holding my detached head by the hair. I think that’s kind of odd.

K: I honestly hadn’t noticed.

D: OH GOD. It’s finally happened. The magic is gone.

K: Please. I still loves ya, babe, but I’m a gal in the city. It takes a bit more than a Headless Skinny Kid to shock me.

D: ::sets head on end table, sighs:: What’s it gonna take to put the horror back into this marriage?

K: I say we take a look at a bunch of real monsters, but monsters who are banding together to fight even more monstrous monsters. I say we read the new Marvel book by Frank J. Barbiere and Brent Schoonover, HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. The tag line is “To fight the monsters of the world, it takes the monsters of the night!” Doesn’t get much monster-y than that!

D: Hand me my head, I’m going to need that. ::puts head back on shoulders::

D: That. That was a lot of monsters. Like A LOT of monsters. So many monsters.

K: Told ya it had all of the monster-y goodness.

D: I knew about the Howling Commandos from the Captain America movie, and that they helped him fight Nazis during WWII, but Nick Fury was their leader in the comic books.

K: You mean the Steranko Nick Fury? Like from your t-shirt?

D: Yes, that one. And lots of grown men have that t-shirt. Not just me. In HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.E.I.L.D, the Commandos are part of a S.H.I.E.L.D. initiative called S.T.A.K.E., Special Threat Assessment for Known Extranormalities. They are defending the world against supernatural threats.

K: Marvel sure loves the acronyms, don’t they? Also, aren’t “supernatural threats” the same as Norse gods with magic hammers or guys that have been injected with an anti-aging serums that make them super?

D: Actually, that last one is totally science, not magic…


D: …

K: It sounds like S.T.A.K.E. is protecting S.H.I.E.L.D. from itself and its established enemies. Is this group segregated from the “regular” agents because these guys don’t have cool costumes or movie screen charisma? Is that what this comes down to, charisma versus monsters?

D: Yes. It’s that exactly. The Howling Commandos are now a team of monsters. Their leader, Dum Dum Dugan, has died, but his consciousness has been downloaded into a Life Model Decoy, or LMD. The team also includes another former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is now deceased, Jasper Sitwell. Except instead of being an LMD like Dugan, Sitwell is a zombie. Because, of course. We’ve also got Vampire by Night, Manphibian, Orrgo (some giant made of rocks that isn’t The Thing), Man-Thing, Teen Abomination, and a monkey with a machine gun that goes by the moniker of HIT-MONKEY.

K: That monkey is bad-ass. I want to be on a team with that monkey.

D: The Commandos get called into action when a tanker ship’s crew is turned into plant zombies. The cause of said organic zombie-fication is an occult totem stowed away on the ship.

K: They bring out all of the monster firepower! The monkey is blasting away with both hands and his feet! His feet! Manphibian lays waste to the zombies! Teen Abomination goes after the zombie creating idol! Man-Thing does crazy Man-Thing stuff! And someone on the Commandos team thought it was a good idea to give their own zombie, the formerly living Jasper Sitwell, a rocket launcher.

I want it on record that this is a terrible idea.

D: Noted. I think we can safely say that this book rocks, and not the kind of rocks that Orrgo is made of. I mean, this book is just so much fun. Frank J. Barbiere has created a fast paced, action packed first issue that had us grinning all the way through. But Barbiere gives us real touches of humanity with Dugan. Dugan knows he has died, and still carries on with S.T.A.K.E. because he feels it’s the right thing to do. Good stuff here.

K: Can we talk about the art? Because I want to talk about the art now.

D: I think it’s safe to say that Brent Schoonover is having a blast on this book. His work on the recent ANT-MAN annual was great, and the scenes that featured the classic-era Avengers really jumped off the page. An admitted fan of all things monster-related, having Schoonover bringing Barbiere’s Band-of-Monster-Brothers is inspired.

K: Our doorbell hasn’t rung once all night. Maybe your Headless Skinny Kid costume really did scare away all the trick-or-treaters?

D: ::takes off head again:: What costume?