Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Creature Commandos continue (Weird War Tales #100)

This is the big one -- the CCs aren't quite permanent headliners yet, but they were a big enough deal that they starred in the cover story of WWT's 100th issue. This is something of a crossover between the CCs and "the War that Time Forgot", a feature that chronicled the numerous attempts made by Allied forces to capture Dinosaur Island, which is exactly what it sounds like.

This episode was also adapted into the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon, which added Myrra Rhodes and Batman himself to the team and featured the Ultra-Humanite (in a T-Rex body) as the villain.

So, despite last being seen in occupied France, this story takes the CCs to the Pacific, where they ambush a Japanese landing party at the edge of a jungle. There's a whole page dedicated to summing up who the Creature Commandos are and how they got that way, but if you've been reading along with me you basically know that already. As usual, despite being greatly outnumbered the CC have the upper hand, but as the battle is nearly over, even more bizarre creatures emerge from the jungle -- dinosaurs drawn without any reference or scale! 

The CCs escape the dinosaur, uh, stampede, regrouping in the jungle. Shrieve fiddles with a camera as he recalls their mission.

Shrieve and Velcro discuss how the discovery of the dinosaurs has screwed up everything. Shrieve, for his part, thinks they can be an asset to the mission. Later, as Shrieve forages for food, they run afoul of a massive, hostile, fakey dinosaur.

This is a tough fight for all involved (except the dinosaur I guess). As Shrieve frantically takes pictures of the beast, Velcro tries to distract it in his nimble bat form, but can't hold its attention while Griffith claws at its back. The dinosaur bucks, sending Griffith hurtling "hundreds of yards" away. When he lands, he's involuntarily turned human, and even worse, is captured by a Japanese patrol. Lucky ends up climbing up its neck, which he manages to snap in two. 

Griffith remains captured for about one page; he's tortured in human form by a Japanese officer, but the session is cut short by the other CCs arriving and wrecking the place. Griffith turns back into his werewolf form to take revenge on his tormentor. Shrieve is about to use a stolen Japanese radio to inform HQ about the situation when he sees the convoy they'd been sent to stop passing by. Thinking quickly, Shrieve scales a rock face to reach a pteranodon's nest, and basically does exactly what you would expect Shrieve to do: shoot helpless baby animals.

They grab onto the pteranodon and Shrieve starts steering it towards the convot. As Shrieve had anticipated, the pteranodon doesn't appreciate the Creature Commandos wrangling her, and her screams attract the attention of the other pteranodons on the island, as well as the sea-dwelling creatures that live in the water around it. They ravage the Japanese convoy, enraged by her cries. The CCs even do their part, landing on a Japanese cruiser and doing their thing.

The team escapes on a life raft. As they await extraction, Shrieve is very pleased with the mission's outcome -- especially the pictures he took. Army Intelligence is going to turn those dinosaurs into beasts of battle the second they see the photographic evidence. Man, Shrieve never met a freak he didn't want to exploit, did he? The Creature Commandos share a knowing look, and Lucky grabs the camera from Shrieve's hands, flinging it into the ocean.

This is a great ending to this story because it encapsulates how the team "works". The individual Creature Commandos are extremely different people who rarely get along very well, but they also share a strong sense of brotherhood as Shrieve's "freaks" -- and an even stronger resentment towards Shrieve. And, to be honest, it's pretty well-deserved, there's very little to like about him besides the way he fills out that sweater.

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