These days, superheroes are the main attraction in comics. Given the commercial success the genre has demonstrated at the box office, it’s hard to imagine that will change any time soon. However, it’s worth remembering that the early days of comics were largely defined by two genres: crime and horror. The Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. mines Marvel’s horror history and combines it with the modern superhero team to create a fun book that feels fresh (even when it isn’t). Spoilers for The Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6 begin after the jump.
As we’re told in the recap, Dum Dum Dugan (who might be a robot now, or something) has been assigned to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s S.T.A.K.E. division, and placed in charge of their field team, the Howling Commandos. From there, the uninitiated reader is thrown into the story and brought up to speed with a few expository boxes. Apparently Orrgo, Communications Officer for the Howling Commandos and giant space monster, was caught snooping where he shouldn’t by bad guy Dr Kraye. The uninitiated reader never learns any details about Kraye, only that he’s the villain responsible for sending Orrgo to Pleasant Hill – but that’s fine, it’s all this story needs from him.
The whole Howling Commando team shows up shortly thereafter, and is introduced only by name – so while some members, like Hit Monkey and Man-Thing, are instantly recognizable, the reader may be left to wonder what powers are possessed by some of the less-featured members. It’s a shame that the other team members don’t get a few more panels to strut their stuff because they all seem pretty interesting.
But this issue is Orrgo’s story, and although that story may be simple, it is nevertheless engaging: Orrgo must decide whether he wants to be returned to the ignorant and blissful existence he experienced after being transformed at Pleasant Hill, or if he wants to return to the harsh and lonely reality of his life. Although Orrgo is tempted to return to the perfect happiness he received as a member of a suburban family in Pleasant Hill, he realizes that the misfits who comprise the Howling Commandos are his real family, and so returns to their side. Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a reliable arc that highlights both the lovable house-sized Orrgo and the Howling Commando team itself.
Ultimately, this issue is a decent tie-in, and while it didn’t much move the Avengers Standoff storyline ahead, it did provide us with a cool related story. While most of the Howling Commandos didn’t get too much attention here, Orrgo’s story was well done and heartfelt. Plus – and likely this should be considered the greatest metric of success for a tie-in issue – the Commandos were presented in an interesting enough fashion that I would definitely be picking up the next, non-tie-in issue of the book.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that will be a viable option, given the letter from the creators on the last page suggests this series has been canceled, and this was the final issue. What a shame! At the very least, I’ll look forward to picking up the trade paperback to catch the five issues that preceded this tie-in.
Next Up: The Super-Sized 75th Anniversary Issue of Sam Wilson: Captain America #7, penned by none other than Avengers Standoff writer Nick Spencer himself.