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HOWLING COMMANDOS

Membership: Clay Quartermain (commanding officer); Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan (former commanding officer); Abominable Snowman, Blade (Eric Brooks), Bradley Beemer, Brother Voodoo (Jericho Drumm), Clone of Frankenstein, Dimensional Man, Dragoom, Fangu, Glob (Joseph Timms), Golden Gator, Golem, Goom, Gorgolla, Gorilla Man (Ken Hale), Grogg, Groot, Hellstorm (Daimon Hellstrom), It the Living Colossus, John Jameson, Kraa the Unhuman, Lilith, Living Mummy (N'Kantu), Manphibian, "Buzz" McMahon, Orrgo, Joshua Pryce, Clay Quartermain, Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski), Satana, Vampire by Night (Nina Price), Warwolf (Vince Marcus), Werewolf (Jack Russell), Zombie ("John Doe"), unrevealed others

Purpose: Created by SHIELD as a preemptive strike force against mystical and monstrous threats

Aliases: Paranormal Containment Unit

Affiliations: Dracula, Mole Man (Harvey Elder)

Enemies: Dracula, Robert Hellsgaard, Lords of the Living Lightning, Merlin, Merlin's army
formerly Groot

Base of Operations: Area 13, Pine Barrens, New Jersey

First Appearance: (BTS) Amazing Fantasy II#12/2 (November, 2005); (seen) Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#1 (December, 2005)

History:

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#1 (fb) - BTS) - SHIELD authorized a new unit based out of Area 13 that would deal with supernatural and monstrous threats outside the realm of normal operations. To fill out the ranks, SHIELD forcibly recruited numerous beings and creatures (though a few joined voluntarily). With their only other option being incarcerated, dozens if not hundreds of monsters and similar beings joined.

(Amazing Fantasy II#12/2 - BTS) - Dugan oversaw the capture of Nina Price, Vampire by Night, to force her into the ranks of the new Howling Commandos division. Dugan wasn't pleased that they were now forced to use these freaks to get the job done. Her capture failed when Nina's uncle Werewolf (Jack Russell) showed up. Angered at his agents' failure Dugan decided to personally talk to Price the next day during daytime to make her an offer to join voluntarily.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#1 (fb) - BTS) - Nina Price took Dugan's offer to join the the Howling Commandos project, which was broken down into smaller units, with Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan acting as commanding officer for one such unit consisting of field leader Warwolf, Clone of Frankenstein, Vampire by Night, the Living Mummy, Gorilla Man and Zombie.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Hardcover#5) - Powerful beings outside the realm of SHIELD's containment abilities such as Hellstorm, Satana and Lilith all joined the team for their own various reasons. SHIELD also struck a deal with the Mole Man, allowing him to retain his monster kingdom in exchange for aid when they required it. SHIELD would also provide him with monsters that they felt were not fit for their purposes. The staff of the Howling Commandos operation was filled out with hundreds of human technicians, guards, doctors and other personnel.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#6 (fb) - BTS) - Hellstorm was sent undercover to ally with the Lords of the Living Lightning.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos Director's Cut#1 - BTS) - At some point, Abominable Snowman, Gorgolla, Satana, Brother Voodoo, Hellstorm, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Manphibian, Blade and Werewolf (Russell) had been recruited into the Howling Commandos but were at this point classified as "inactive operatives." The Glob had also been captured, but not yet inducted into the system.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#1) - Warwolf's unit tracked a Lords of the Living Lightning cell to Afghanistan. With extreme quickness and efficiency, the team launched an assault on the base and subdued a large amount of the LLL members there, while Zombie bluffed their technicians into purging the computer systems (which the Lords were using to build a super-virus targeting numerous high-level government and banking systems) by threatening to eat them. After the successful mission, Warwolf contacted SHIELD, who arrived to perform clean-up duties. While bickering among  themselves, the Commandos awaited their evac pick-up by Grogg, piloted by "Buzz" McMahon. On the way back to Area 13, they discussed their upcoming meeting with their new commanding officer, as Dugan was being transferred. At the same time, Nick Fury was personally delivering the new commanding officer, Clay Quartermain, to the Area 13 base. Quartermain showed obvious disdain for the new assignment, though Fury didn't care. Fury introduced Clay to the Commandos' chief tech advisor Bradley Beemer, who reported the Afghanistan mission and then departed with Dugan. Quartermain read over the computer files on his new unit. Elsewhere, at the Warehouse, a base under the Antarctic where SHIELD stored various mystic items they had collected, Merlin broke out of his containment unit, killing most if not all of the operatives and scientists there before escaping.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#2) - Thanks to Commandos Sasquatch and Abominable Snowman locating alien fugitive Groot via their sense of smell, Quartermain ordered his team to take the tree monster down. Groot fought back as the team assaulted him with high range sonics while riding sky-cycles, but was surprised when their member It the Living Colossus revealed himself as being nearby and struck Groot to the ground, knocking him out. An "Eraser Tech" squad, utilizing technology purloined from the Living Eraser, arrived and "erased" Groot from the area, taking him back to Area 13. Gorilla Man tried explaining the process to Quartermain, but was angrily rebuffed. The team returned to Area 13, unaware Merlin was at Stonehenge, setting in motion a magic spell to transform the area into a realm of mythical creatures. In Area 13, Warwolf (in human form) and Gorilla Man discussed Quartermain's disdain for them while prepped to give new recruit Glob a tour of the base. In the commissary, where John Jameson, the Golem, Lilith and others mingled, Living Mummy explained to Vampire by Night how Merlin escaped, though the Mummy was convinced he was released accidentally and SHIELD was covering it up. Zombie attempted to sit with the two, but the Mummy rebuffed him. Elsewhere, as Warwolf and Gorilla Man led Glob through the halls, they were surprised to see a pained and rambling Brother Voodoo teleport into their pathway, ranting about all of the dead being resurrected (Merlin's doings). In the English town of Salisbury, Merlin and his mythical forces arrived, transforming it into their main base of operations.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#3) - At an island base, members of the Lords of the Living Lightning discussed a recent incident in which mystic feedback apparently killed all six of their "Esper Cell" operatives, as well as many of SHIELD's similar operatives. To help them with understanding the phenomena, the Lords brought in their ally (and undercover Commandos agent) Hellstorm. While SHIELD was dealing their own side of the incident, Beemer told Quartermain that the mystic energies that killed their psychics was feedback from something tracing back to Stonehenge. Quartermain ordered Beemer to have satellite images and choices for covert ground recon ready as soon as possible. Seeing the mythical nature via the satellite images, Beemer picked vampires Lilith and Vampire by Night. While being debriefed on the upcoming mission, Vampire by Night was treated callously by Quartermain and acted in kind. She and Lilith were soon teleported into the center of Stonehenge, and Lilith made clear she had little use for her colleague, proclaiming her Dracula lineage and threatening to kill Price. The two were soon swarmed by fairies, who followed the two as they made their way into the transformed Salisbury. There, Lilith enjoyed her status and learned Merlin was behind things, while Vampire by Night accidentally started a fight with a group of trolls. Lilith went to break up the fight (which Vampire by Night was winning) when she noticed some of Merlin's guards leading Hellstorm through the town. Expressing her desire to kill him for past transgressions, Lilith opted to bide her time and continue the mission. After Vampire by Night won her fight with the trolls, the other local creatures celebrated her as a local hero. Back in Area 13, Beemer and Quartermain received satellite images showing Vampire by Night prominently in the aftermath of the fight, and Quartermain, "thrilled" to see her already almost blowing her cover, asked Beemer where Dugan had kept the bourbon in his office.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#4) - While Gorilla Man was in the Area 13 "Creature Corral" (the containment area for giant monsters) discussing to Groot the terms and conditions for joining the team, the alien Goom attempted to escape but was knocked unconscious by Gorilla Man with one well-placed double-fisted slam to the skull. Gorilla Man resumed explaining to Groot the perks of working for the team as opposed to staying in confinement. Groot seemed to be considering it, but also considered Gorilla Man insane for seeing positives in the situation. Beemer entered Quartermain's office to alert him that their satellite was no longer picking up images from England, as the entire country seemed to have disappeared from all known technology. In England, Hellstorm marched alongside Merlin and his army, attempting to persuade him to ally with the Lords of the Living Lightning, though Hellstorm soon received a phone call from the Lords, alerting him that Merlin's forces had already located them and forcibly "asked" for their allegiance to him. Lilith and Vampire by Night watched from nearby. Back in an Area 13 bar, Brother Voodoo explained to Warwolf and Beemer that since the two vampires hadn't been properly shielded via conjuries before going on their mission, they would be easily outed. At the same time, the fairies had indeed read the vampires' minds and alerted Merlin to their true nature. Merlin left Vampire by Night tied to stakes to await the impending sunrise (though the fairies intentionally neglected to tell him her hybrid nature would make this futile), while Lilith seemingly turned on her cohort and pledged allegiance to the wizard, telling him there was no one in Area 13 she wished to see him spare. As Warwolf and the others attempted to explain to Quartermain that Merlin very likely knew not only of their existence but was probably aware of their location as well, a huge portal opened in the base and numerous creatures serving Merlin pored through. As the assault continued, Quartmerain and Warwolf, alongside Brother Voodoo, rounded up their unit (Clone of Frankenstein, Glob, Zombie, Living Mummy and Gorilla Man) and joined the battle.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#5) - As the two sides fought, Warwolf ordered Zombie to remove Quartermain and Beemer from the premises and get them to safety. Quartermain resisted, but Beemer verbally unloaded on him, telling him that as c.o. he had more responsibilities in the situation than jumping recklessly into battle. Beemer then sent an order to the "Creature Corral" for the agents there to blow the locks on the monsters' cages and stampede them towards their location. In the melee, Warwolf ordered his team (minus Voodoo) to go through the still-open portal, intending to take the fight to Merlin (and also aware the battle was about to be joined by a lot of very angry giant monsters). After they jumped through (arriving at Stonehenge), Groot and numerous others stampeded through the base, making a beeline for the portal as well. They emerged moments after the Commandos and kept running. With the forces of Merlin still on that side of the portal scared away, the team regrouped and started making their way to Salisbury. Nearby, a still-tied up Vampire by Night was visited by one of the fairy folk, who told her their race did not wish to serve Merlin as they were treated as little more than slaves. The two made a bargain that if the fairy freed Vampire by Night, she would make sure the fairies were allowed to remain after Merlin was defeated. As the Commandos kept moving, they found Groot returning to them, tired of hiding and fighting, and he asked to join them, as Merlin's spell was causing him great pain. They soon reconvened with Vampire by Night. Back in Area 13, Merlin's forces stopped fighting after the portal closed. Brother Voodoo and Beemer discussed why the creatures gave up so suddenly, with Voodoo surmising that since they were from various typically-warring races (trolls, dwarves, etc.), that they had been under Merlin's influence, which was broken when the portal closed. Beemer then remembered he never gave orders to let Quartermain out of his quarters. Upset, Quartermain berated Beemer, who calmly made him see that Quartermain's actions and general apathy toward his command were alienating him from his operatives. Quartermain conceded he had been acting out of resentment and realized he needed to start being a real leader.

(Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#6) - As the techs prepped the Eraser Tech teleporting system, Quartermain and Beemer discussed launching a "shock and awe" assault on Salisbury, sending in every available Commando all at once, with the magicians and mages (including Brother Voodoo, Satana and others (including Gandalf, Tonto, Timothy Hunter (see comments)) serving as a first line. In Salisbury, Lilith seemingly seduced and killed Merlin by draining his blood. Merlin soon proved her wrong, revealing the dead "Merlin" to be a transformed servant of his before burning Lilith and reducing her to ashes. As the Commandos arrived outside the town, they weighed their options as Brother Voodoo and Joshua Pryce arrived, alerting them that the cavalry was on its way.  As an Eraser Tech portal opened, Goom, Sasquatch, Orrgo, Golden Gator, Grogg, Dimensional Man, Manphibian, Dragoom, Fangu, Abominable Snowman and dozens/hundreds of others spilled through. Underneath Salisbury, Quartermain and Beemer watched as their ally the Mole Man and his servants prepared a giant mechanical claw-like device. As the device went into operation, it lifted part of Salisbury out of its foundation. The Commandos were met by numerous creatures serving Merlin and a massive battle ensued. In the midst of the conflict, Warwolf and Gorilla Man used Grogg to fly into Salisbury, making their way to the house Merlin was inhabiting. Hellstorm observed them from the street, and used the opportunity to turn on Merlin's agent Telesti, incinerating the elf-like being. Confronted by Warwolf and Gorilla Man, Merlin offered no fight unless they struck first. He first questioned why beings of his kind would fight against the world he was attempting to create before telling them he had sifted Lilith's ashes to foretell the future and had seen his current path led to failure. Unwilling to chance this, Merlin conceded defeat and teleported away. Once he was gone, Lilith reconstituted her form, explaining she controlled her ashes and thus bluffed Merlin into retreat. As Merlin departed, the land reverted to modern times and his army faded away (with the exception of the fairies). Quartermain was not happy that Beemer had sent Lilith in as an assassin without alerting him to it, but conceded he deserved to be kept in the dark at the time. Hellstorm angrily confronted the two for blowing his cover after so much time and effort before storming off. As the two continued their discussion, Quartermain remarked that he seemed to finally being gaining some respect from Beemer, with Beemer replying that he was getting there.

(Punisher VIII#14 (fb) - BTS) - The Howling Commandos project investigated Robert Hellsgaard, who had been leading a team of monster hunters. The investigation even included testimony from Dracula.

(Agents of Atlas I#1) - Gorilla Man deserted SHIELD and his Commandos position to rescue Jimmy Woo with the help of M-11.

(Blade III#1) - While working on a Commandos mission, Blade staked Dracula. He subsequently learned the Commandos project had been infiltrated by numerous vampires secretly posing as the "normal" SHIELD members of the operations. Blade downed the Helicarrier many of them were stationed on in an effort to kill them.

(Civil War: Battle Damage Report#1) - N'Kantu rebelled because he saw his service with the Howling Commandos as slavery. He was eventually recaptured when the Superhuman Registration Act was passed.

(She-Hulk II#17) - Glob went AWOL and was caught again by the Hulkbusters unit (to which Clay Quartermain had been reassigned) in a swamp.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Hardcover#5) - With the loss of Gorilla Man, Living Mummy, and Glob, Quartermain's reassignment and Fury's removal from SHIELD, the Howling Commandos program was disbanded.

(Punisher VIII#14 (fb) - BTS) - While trying to stop Hellsgaard, the Punisher's ally Henry was able to access the old Commandos files on the monster hunter.

Comments: Created by Keith Giffen and Eduardo Francisco

Oh, man, where to start with this one? Nick Fury's Howling Commandos was, at the time, a pretty ugly misfire from Marvel, and was cancelled after six issues. It's a shame, as it's a concept I personally like and I loved the series while it lasted. One of its biggest problems was the revolving art teams - literally no two issues had the same penciler/inker team, and the styles clashed hard. The first two issues, with Eduardo Francisco's art, were (IMHO unfairly) lambasted due to their art, though I think the thick inking was the real problem, as readers could barely tell what was going on in much of the book. The concept itself was sound, though, and as a fan of things like the Midnight Sons, Legion of Monsters, Legion of Night, etc., I really wanted to see this fleshed out and continued. Another part of the problem was that the main team was barely featured at times. Heck, Zombie and Gorilla Man didn't even make it to any of the covers, and the team barely appeared in some issues; when they did, they were almost secondary characters. Also, thanks to the rotating art duties, the characters' appearances and especially their heights in relation to one another fluctuated drastically. Sigh, so much potential. Imagine all the oddball monsters and creatures that coulda/woulda shown up as time went on if this series had continued.

As derided as the series was, I think it was influential in a lot of ways. I honestly don't think Groot would have been included in Annihilation, Gorilla Man in Agents of Atlas or Manphibian's resurgence had they not been included here. Groot's entrance into the Annihilation Conquest event was in Annihilation Conquest: Star-Lord mini, also written by Giffen, and it's all been uphill for Groot since then. Jeff Parker started using Gorilla Man only months after Commandos ended, and Manphibian had been completely forgotten until his cameos in the series and gaining an Official Handbook profile partially in thanks to it.

It should be noted that the entire series happened within a matter of days. It should also be noted that when the book hit the stands, Nick Fury was in deep doop thanks to Secret War and other things and had gone into hiding, making his appearance here a bit of an anomaly. I feel it's safe to say the series took place shortly before Fury left SHIELD.

Several of the Commandos ended up in the Monster Metropolis in the Punisher/Franken-Castle story arc as the Legion of Monsters and continue to make appearances here and there as that group.

The only reason we know that was Golem, John Jameson and Lilith in the cafeteria scene in #2 is thanks to the original script, which named them as such (and if you squint, you can tell it's them). Werewolf (by Night) was in the script for issue #3 for a one-panel cameo, but if he's the human in the panel as-shown, it's difficult to tell, as it's just a generic SHIELD agent.

In pre-release press, Giffen stated that while this Zombie wasn't Simon Garth, he had a previously-existing character in mind and would eventually reveal who it was. Years later, he was interviewed about this and said he no longer remembered who he had planned to be the Zombie (though he joked it would be Uncle Ben). He also stated that had the series continued, it would be revealed the reason Quartermain was put with the team was because he had already died in a previous adventure and wasn't aware of it yet. Whether that meant he was resurrected zombie-style or an LMD, I do not know.

Hellstorm claimed to have been undercover for three years, six months and seventeen days. At one point I'd say this was impossible, given how much he gets around in various titles, but as it's semi-recently been revealed all of the different versions of Hellstorm we've seen in the last decade or so were all just aspects of the real guy, it's feasible.

In issue #6, when we see the HC magicians line up, we clearly see Gandalf from Lord of the Rings there, as well as Tonto (from the Lone Ranger canon), and a shadowy figure that greatly resembles Timothy Hunter from DC's Books of Magic. Obviously, none of the three are the actual official versions, but they're there.

Numerous unidentified Commandos appear in the commissary scene in #2 and in the final assault in #6, but remain unidentified. My understanding is that Francisco created a lot of them for #2 if they weren't characters named in the script, and for issue #6 I corresponded with Mike Norton regarding the various characters at one point and the ones ID'ed here are the only ones he could recall specifically using pre-existing characters.

I'm not even about to go into the whole Merlin thing, as this was most likely just an aspect of him (similar to how I believe this was just an aspect of Hellstorm in the series). You can read his profile to get a better idea of what's going on with him and why he was so out of character in this series.

Grogg was consistently spelled "Grog" throughout the series. Likewise, Hellstorm was also referred to as "Damien" instead of "Daimon." Oh, and by issue 5, Beemer was being spelled "Beamer." And and and, issue #3 had the inker credited as Terry Pallot on the cover but as Terry Pallott in the interior credits (I believe it's with just one 't'). Sigh.

The team was at least notable enough for two variations of it to show up in animated form. In the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, the Commandos appear in two episodes and the line-up consists of Werewolf by Night, Living Mummy, Frankenstein's Monster, Man-Thing and the Invisible Man. In the animated series Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, the team appears in one episode, with the line-up consisting of Blade, Werewolf by Night, Living Mummy, Man-Thing and Frankenstein's Monster.

Blade used his SHIELD contacts and credentials further in issues #3, 5 and 7 of the series, but best I can tell was not working within the team parameters anymore, so I've opted to leave them here in the comments.

The team received profiles in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Horror (2005), Hardcover and Softcover runs.

Finally, there's a new Howling Commandos series sharing this concept launching in 2015 called Howling Commandos of SHIELD. Written by Frank Barbiere, it seems to be a reboot of the concept, keeping a few of the concepts but starting fresh in others. Press seems to indicate it will still be headquartered at Area 13 (or at least a new place sharing the name), and Dum Dum Dugan (actually an LMD of Dugan, long story) will be leading the team again. This line-up consists of Man-Thing, Manphibian, Orrgo, Hit-Monkey, Teen Abomination, Vampire by Night, a zombified Jasper Stillwell and a new Warwolf.

Though Dugan never identified the Howling Commandos by name in Amazing Fantasy II#12 an ad at the end of the issue for Nina Price's next appearance in Nick Fury's Howling Commandos made it clear that this issue's events were an attempt by SHIELD to forcefully recruit Price for the Howling Commandos.
--Markus Raymond

Profile by Madison Carter.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Howling Commandos should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos Director's Cut#1, p43, pan1 (main image)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#6, p3, pan1 (riding Groot)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#6, p10, pan1,2 (full force)


Appearances:
Amazing Fantasy II#12 (November, 2005) - Jeff Parker (writer), Federica Manfredi (artist), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#1 (December, 2005) - Keith Giffen (writer), Eduardo Francisco (penciler), Kris Justice and Terry Pallot (inkers), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#2 (January, 2006) - Keith Giffen (writer), Eduardo Francisco (penciler), Rob Campanella (inker), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#3 (February, 2006) - Keith Giffen (writer), Dan Norton (penciler), Terry Pallot (inker), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#4 (March, 2006) - Keith Giffen (writer), Derec Aucoin (art), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#5 (April, 2006) - Keith Giffen (writer), Derec Donovan (art), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Nick Fury's Howling Commandos#6 (May, 2006) - Keith Giffen (writer), Mike Norton (penciler), Derec Aucoin and Norman Lee (inkers), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Agents of Atlas#1 (October, 2006) - Jeff Parker (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Kris Justice (inker), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Blade#1 (November, 2006) - Marc Guggenheim (writer), Howard Chaykin (art), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Civil War: Battle Damage Report (2007)
She-Hulk II#17 (May, 2007) - Dan Slott (writer), Rick Burchett (pencils), Cliff Rathburn (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Punisher VIII#14 (April, 2008) - Rick Remender (writer), Tony Moore (art), Sebastian Gimer (editor)


Last updated: 11/08/15.

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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