Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

CREATURE COMMANDOS by J. M. DeMatteis, Pat Broderick, Robert Kanigher, Mike W. Barr, & Jerry Ordway

Creature Commandos Volume 01 cover

When the Creature Commandos first saw the light of day in the November 1980 of Weird War Tales, I was twenty-three years old, so I picked it up and read it. All I really remembered was that J. M. DeMatteis had created a team of soldiers that were based on the old Universal Monsters: Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman.

When I saw the collection go up on Amazon for the Kindle, I bought the e-graphic novel hoping to get in touch with my younger self. Comic books (for me) are a great touchstone for who I was and what I was doing at the time that I first read them.

Creature Commandos Volume 01 page 01

Over the years, I suppose I picked up a few more issues that featured the Creatures. I remember some of the covers assembled in the collection, though I couldn’t really remember the stories.

DeMatteis didn’t keep writing the erratically published books. That task soon fell to Robert Kanigher, who had created Sgt. Rock and wrote the first Barry Allen Flash comic for Showcase. Kanigher fished out the Creatures’ original run.

The idea of using Universal Monsters as soldiers during World War II is fun, but the writing tended to be very pedestrian. I think getting the issues parsed out with a few months between actually worked better than sitting down and blazing right through them.

Creature Commandos Volume 01 page 02

In reading the collection, the Creatures’ origins get rehashed time and again, such as Lucky’s (Frankenstein’s Monster) constant suicidal thoughts, then his pining after Dr. Myrra Rhodes (who became, essentially, Medusa through a freak mishap. The constant barrage of repeated verbiage got old quickly, and nothing ever advanced on those scores.

At the beginning, Warren Griffith (Wolfman, who was from Oklahoma and how did I NOT remember that?) had problems maintaining his change to Creature. Later, for some inexplicable reason, Sgt. Vincent Velcro (how did that name slip by?) became afflicted with the same problem when it came to turning into a bat.

The stories were pretty run of the mill, although the appearance of G. I. Robot and the lost island of dinosaurs from “The War that Time Forgot” were kind of cool. And they even took a turn for the totally weird when the Creatures used a time machine to travel to the future. (Think about it: if a time machine had existed during World War II, somebody would have gone back and killed Hitler, or chosen a million other turning points in the past to “adjust” the present.)

Creature Commandos Volume 01 page 03

I read through the stories pretty quickly as a result of the repetitiveness, but it was nice seeing Kanigher’s work and that of the artists that penciled the comics. I found out later that the Creatures actually figured into the New 52’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., which I also purchased on ebook, so I may have to pick that up now and see how it was handled.

The idea of Creature Commandos is a cool one, and Marvel even picked up the flag for their own Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos.

One of the things that really bothered me about the stories, though, was Lt. Shrieve’s constant harassment of the Creature Commandos. The character just became an unrealistic bigot, and the issue that was later written to kind of correct that just didn’t do enough.

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