Monday, July 18, 2005

WEIRD WAR TALES #119 DC Comics, 1983



One of the comics I picked up at this year’s Comic Con was this fine issue of Weird War Tales, featuring The Creature Commandos. I think a more appropriate title for this series would have been Batshit Crazy War Tales or Our Writer is on Acid War Tales.

I think the Ross Andru cover (above) pretty much sums up the concept of Creature Commandos in one image: monster soldiers fighting lions. That’s some wacky shit right there. Okay, they didn’t fight lions in every issue, but maybe they should have. It couldn’t have made things any worse.

Briefly, the Creature Commandos were a team of G.I.s who were altered by the mysterious Project M (I wonder what the “M” stands for?) into hideous but formidable monster soldiers who fought the Nazis during WWII. Who were the Creature Commandos?

-Myrna Rhodes – whining judo chopping Medusa!

-Lucky, the sort-of-mute Frankenstein monster with the ironic name!

-Griffith, the wolfman with the heart of gold!

-Sgt. Vincent Velcro, the human vampire! You heard me – the man’s name was Velcro.

The Creature Commandos were led by a square-jawed asshole officer who constantly belittled and made fun of them during their dangerous commando missions in Europe… and beyond! Of course, they were feared and hated by the very people they were sworn to protect, blah blah blah…

I think writer Robert Kanigher meant for the Creature Commandos to be funny, but it’s hard to tell. I’m going to be charitable and assume that the humor in Weird War Tales #119 is intentional, because otherwise it means that Kanigher is completely insane.

This issue starts off with our heroes visiting a London wax museum, where they are mistaken for wax monster dummies by the crowd. When the Creature Commandos move and talk it freaks everybody out:



Okay, take a look at that narrative caption: “Once again the Creature Commandos are whiplashed by the revulsion felt by the race of humans from which they were banished by the fortunes of war – now fleeing in horror at the sight of them!” Is that supposed to be funny? As in, laugh-at-my-awkward-writing funny?

The Londoners flee, leaving the Commandos to bitch and moan about how they are freaks who will never be accepted. You know what I can’t accept? The egregious abuse of the ellipses at the hands of the Creature Commandos. It’s as if the only punctuation they can use are ellipses… and exclamation points!!!



If you were actually speaking those lines as they were written, it would sound like: “No hideout on Earth (lengthy pause) for US!” Even Lucky the Frankenstein Monster gets in on the ellipses abuse, and he doesn’t even speak English.

Anyway, the Creature Commandos go on a secret mission in Italy to save some villagers or something. Led by their asshole officer, they save the day, but the very people they save run in terror at the sight of these monsters, which leads us to a recurring motif in the comic, the Whining Sequence:


“No use (lengthy pause) there’s no place on Earth (length pause) for us!”

Fortunately, one of the folks they save has invented an Italian Time Machine. You would think that an Italian Time Machine would only go back in time to the glory days of Rome, but this one goes forward, too. The despondent, whining, ellipses-abusing Creature Commandos travel forward in time ten centuries, to an Earth populated by Giant Blonde Clones. It’s nice to see that trouser-piping has made a comeback ten centuries from now.



The Giant Blonde Clones are fascinated by these tiny new arrivals. I’ve included the following panel because it’s practically the only one in the book in which the Creature Commandos don’t misuse punctuation (like I’m one to talk) and there is what I believe to be an overt attempt at humor on writer Robert Kanigher’s part.


Unfortunately for the Creature Commandos, the Giant Blonde Clones that rule Earth want to eliminate the Creature Commandos because of their individuality. You see, the Giant Blonde Clones believe that the unbridled individuality of mankind eventually led to a global nuclear holocaust – that and mankind’s short stature. Ten centuries in the future, all conflict and strife have been eliminated by genetic homogeny and gigantism. So you see, these tiny little freaks from the past must die! Instead of stepping on the Creature Commandos, the Giant Blonde Clones intend to dispose of them humanely – by feeding them to tiny lions in a tiny coliseum!

Fortunately, in the middle of the savage lion combat, Lucky notices that the Head Lion has a painful thorn in his paw, which he removes. The lion is so grateful that… well… it’s a little disturbing…


After the Frankenstein-on-lion butt sex panel, the Creature Commandos escape from the Giant Blonde Clones by riding the lions like ponies back to their Italian Time Machine and return to World War II. I didn’t know that you could actually ride lions, but apparently you can. Perhaps you have to sodomize the lion first, then you can ride it. You know, I’m going to try that next time I’m at the zoo.

Weird War Tales #119 is hilarious and I am proud to include it in my collection of truly bad comics. Because I’m a little unclear as to the motivation of the writer, I’m a little hesitant to give it The Pain Award, but I must... I MUST!!!

33 comments:

joe shakespeare said...

"After the Frankenstein-on-lion butt sex panel, the Creature Commandos escape from the Giant Blonde Clones by riding the lions like ponies back to their Italian Time Machine and return to World War II."

sigh...i love comics...

Anonymous said...

Johnny Ryan's take on the Creature Commandos. (WARNING: Contains Johnny Ryan)

John said...

dear lord, i love it.

who drew that issue? was it from the Filipino Sequential Art Camp for Minimum Wage?

Sean said...

Man, I still have my first appearance of the Creature Commandos. It had a Joe Kubert cover with Frankenstein (aka Lucky) coming at ya firing his machine gun. I seem to recall that first appearance wasn't too bad - definately not on the level displayed here.

David Campbell said...

Damn, I forgot to mention that Fred Carrillo pencilled and inked that bad boy. I'm assuming he designed the Giant Blonde Clones' bitchin' threads as well...

Benari said...

And here we have the template for Giffen's new take on Marvel's Howling Commandos. Probably... (lengthy pause) with more...(lengthy pause) LION MOUNTING!!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know... if this version of Frankenstein... is the one Grant Morrison's using in... Seven Soldiers?...

David Campbell said...

God help me... I... I... I don't know...

Sean said...

I don't believe it is. If I remember the deal, this chap in the Creature Commandos isn't Frankenstein's monster, strictly speaking, while Morrison will be using the DC universe version of the Frankenstein monster.

Although a Morrison penned Creature Commandos would be kinda nifty.

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

I remember a Grant Morrison interview where he said that his 7SoV are all revamps. Sorry, if I cannot provide you with a link. < sob >


And Dave, what is happening with the monthly Frank Quitely-drawn Velvet Marauder project? It should be kick-ass.

David Campbell said...

I wish, man. I wish.

Anonymous said...

I had this issue at one point, along with 7-8 more of the title. Yep, this stunk, but there were some neat stories. I remember one about Gremlins aboard a WW1 German Zeppelin, and another about a US navy ship in the Pacific just before WW2 fighting off an alien/otherdimensional naval vessel.

kelvingreen said...

Ah... you see... you've missed the point of this issue. It's a retelling of the classic Biblical tale in which Moses pulls a thorn out a lion's paw, and then teams up with the grateful lion, all his lioney friends, and Jesus, and they take on the Romans in a big Royal Rumble style fracas.

So you see, this comic has literary aspirations, and as such cannot be as bad as you think. You probably just didn't understand the... clever allusions throughout.


I seem to recall DC resurrecting the Creature Commandoes fairly recently, in a predictably Vertigoesque "edgy" version.

kelvingreen said...

Ah yes, Creature Commandos 2000, by Tim Truman and Scott Eaton.

A similar series was 1980's Fiends of the Eastern Front in Britain's 2000ad, a lovely little tale of vampires muching on Russian soldiers during WWII. Creepy stuff, and some lovely art from Carlos Ezquerra.

No leonine sodomy or dubious punctuation however, worse luck.

Glen Davis said...

I have one of these, where they find some Greek fire goddess, who accidentally burns to death all of the men she wants. Natch, she falls for the dickhead lootenant. I would have let her have him if I was in the CCs.

No GI Robot backup? With his robot dog and cat sidekicks. I wonder why they didn't make a woman for him.

Winterteeth said...

Trouser piping...man-on-lion action...face it, true believers, this one has it all!

Shane Bailey said...

Though I'd love to see it there's something wrong with saying "monthly Frank Quitely".

methane said...

I never read this (evidently) brilliant series, but your post left me with 2 questions and a comment:

1) The Frankenstein guy here says "yarrghhh", "arrghhh" and "rarghh". Did he get to use other sounds from time to time?

2) You've publicly outed the artist of this masterpiece. Who was the writer?

3) The literary Frankenstein monster appeared in Roy Thomas' Young All Stars in a big multi-part story. Several literary sci-fi/fantasy characters collided with the Y. All-Stars in the Arctic (or was it the Antarctic? It was cold anway).
I re-read it a couple of months ago, but I'm too lazy to dig it up right now. I'm pretty sure the monster was just passing through, like Thomas was setting up a future story that never came. As with much of DC, I have no idea if it's still in continuity.

Kevin Church said...

I want seven of these delivered to my office tomorrow morning.

I will burn them, huffing the fumes to gain amazing powers.

Like Lion-Mounting.

David Campbell said...

It is done.

Dan Coyle said...

Marvel's Frankenstein was collected last year in Essential Monster of Frankenstein Vol. 1. Terrific storytelling by Groovy Gary Friedrich.

Jonathan Miller said...

As I recall, Robert Kanigher was both the writer and the editor of this title, which explains a lot. Thus there was no one to really step in and say, "Well, Bob, it sure ain't Showcase #4...."

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Kanigher was an insane genius. I realized this for myself when reading an adventure of "GI Robot."

After a couple of issues, the GI Robot was issued, naturally, a GI Robot Dog. Because, you know, hey.

In one issue, the Robot Dog attacked some Generic Bad Guy (tm). The GBG caught the Robot Dog and held it at bay. Then...

Out of the back of the dog, a hatch opened.

From out of the hatch...a robot cat.

This is genius. Complete and total.

Had the series continued much longer, I'm certain we would have seen a Robot Mouse.

Then the entire GI Robot "family" would come into conflict with the Japanese army of robots, all of whom look like gorillas!

Because, as longtime editor Julius Schwartz insisted, gorilla comics sell.

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

ok Shane, monthly Vince Deighan it is.

DougBot said...

Shit, now I have to add more titles to my list for the quarterly half-off-back-issues sale.

GI Robot and GI Dog. Man. That makes my day.

Duncan said...

Damocles anda lion.

Anonymous said...

This is the greatest issue of any comic ever.

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Duane said...

Well, I don't really suppose this is likely to have effect.
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