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All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes #4: Review

Sep 2011
Paul Jenkins, Carmine DiGiandomenico

Story Name:

The Longest Day

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes #4 Review by (September 27, 2011)
I've already mentioned that the cover features costumed Blue Diamond and Young Avenger, plus Father Time who is supposedly dead by now. Once again it also has a bowman who is presumably again a Victory Boy. But the Victory Boys operated in Germany, and so probably won't join until later. Last issue modern-day Cap claimed he was in the squad until the Ardennes, ie Battle of the Bulge. But this issue makes it seem like since the initial mission in Guadalcanal they only saw Cap and Bucky when they greeted new recruits. Slo-Mo mentions Whizzer as one of the celebrity superheroes who would turn up to welcome new recruits, but he isn't shown at the particular party depicted. Which is a shame because a meeting between Whizzer and his 'partner' Slo-Mo might have been an interesting scene. American Ace was mentioned in #2 as someone they were trying to recruit, but hasn't arrived until now. So he couldn't have been the man in goggles and aviator helmet last issue. In #2 I described the short Timely career of American Ace. But that guy was named Perry Webb, while this one is Ace Masters. Is Cortez's homosexuality the secret Merzah referred to in #2?

All we actually see of Fin is one shot of his head (unless we also see him die). He looks like the guy with goggles and a finned helmet on last issue's cover, but not the guy with goggles and aviator's headgear on the inside. So I'm still not sure who the inside goggle-guy was. He wasn't American Ace who only joins this issue. I have to revise what I said about Blue Diamond in #2&3. I now believe he was actually in those issues. My problem is that the face of his mask looks similar to Young Avenger's. YA's is grewen while BD's is blue (no surprise there). But the colouring difference isn't always obvious. More tellingly BD's mask shows most of his nose, while YA's only exposes his nostrils. So it wasn't misleading to have BD on last issue's cover. (But it was a white lie to have him and YA in full superhero costume, as with this issue.) Another source of potential confusion is Moon Man and Father Time. Both have black facemasks. MM has a conventional square cut across his nose. FT's mask comes lower with a cutout to let his nose through, and a 'fang' either side his mouth. FT is presumably one of those dead since last issue, although he still appears on the cover (and he didn't actually appear in last issue). We are told that the squad has suffered heavy losses while Slo-Mo was in hospital, But apart from Jap-Buster Johnson everyone who was featured last issue is still here. Father Time and Fighting Yank from #2 aren't mentioned in the roll call, and there were several unidentifiable soldiers in the early scenes (plus Secret Stamp was mentioned as injured at the end of #2). Of course there are are also all the later recruits we've never seen.

Last issue qualified for inclusion in the Captain America library with a brief appearance by Cap in the modern-day section. This issue makes it due to an equally short spot in the WWII part. There continue to be subtle variations from our version of Timely comics. Vagabond is said to have only had 1 story, but in our universe he had several. As compared to Moon Man who really only appeared once but previous issues claimed was more popular than that. Wikipedia tells me that there was a real soldier John Steele involved in Operation Boston. Obviously nothing to do with the semi-immortal guy who had 1 Timely WWI adventure in Daring Mystery Comics, was resurrected by Nazis (and by Ed Brubaker in The Marvels Project) in WWII, and has recently been appearing in Secret Avengers. Archie the medic is at last confirmed to be Archie the Gruesome, though how he progressed from a streetsweeper fan of Captain America to being a medic is yet to be explained. Especially as this issue describes him as slow-witted, as hinted at by his previous speech pattern. It is an in-joke that the comic Archie is seen reading here is Comedy Comics #10 (his only Timely appearance) with himself on the cover.




 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes #4 Synopsis by Rob Johnson

This issue we're back mainly with the Crazy Sues in WWII. The present-day action is restricted to a few pages of Slo-Mo Jones narrating the story to Alyssa Bryon.

Slo-Mo denies being the person who's been sending Alyssa messages about Operation Firefly. He tells her it's dangerous to investigate. Alyssa knows this, having been warned off by Loki, and warned to be careful by her unknown informant. But she intends to keep her promise to her now-dead grandfather (who was Young Avenger in WWII) that she would write his story.

Slo-Mo tells her that Captain Flame (Frank Cortez) was the essence of Operation Firefly.

Last issue we left the Crazy Sues platoon of special soldiers in their first mission on Guadalcanal 13th August 1942. An injured Slo-Mo saw Captain Flame overload after sending Japanese fire back to the enemy. Davey Drew and Jap-Buster Johnson were close to Cortez, and Drew seemed to be welcoming death (maybe because of the demon I think he's merged with).

This issue picks up when Slo-Mo has returned from hospital, to rejoin his squad still in the Pacific. Johnson died when Captain Flame exploded. Drew suffered major burns but is still on the team (maybe the demon helped his recovery), crazier than before.

The Crazy Sues have lost other team members while Slo-Mo was away, but the survivors are now a seasoned group. Captain Flame has apparently made a habit of going off unpredictably. The rest of the squad seem

The issue opens in the middle of a firefight, as another soldier bites the dust. This time it's Vagabond.

We don't see any more of this battle, but the next day they are shipped to Europe. It seems to be part of the Normandy landings, so this is D-Day June 6th 1944. They are to parachute along with others into a French town Sainte-Mere-Eglise. This was a real WWII event Operation Boston to secure the strategic position on a major road to prevent German reinforcements.

Apart from Slo-Mo Jones, Captain Flame and Davey Drew, other guys identified on the team are Blue Diamond, Flash Foster, Captain Strong, Invisible Man, Moon Man, Young Avenger, Taxi Taylor, Transisto-Mech, Merzah, Archie the medic and the Fin. And they're still commanded by Sgt Byrd (Flame and Strong aren't real captains, that's just their hero names). Byrd says Captain America is leading a ground force to try to reach the town as well.

Slo-Mo makes it to the ground, but some unidentified men don't. He finds Cortez, who's exploded again. Captain Flame has been the squad's most effective weapon, and he is sickened by all the killing he's done. Then they are joined by some of the others, including Merzah and possibly Young Avenger and Archie. But we don't see any more of that operation.

The scene skips to a celebration where a bunch of new recruits joins the squad. The only one named is American Ace, a pilot called Ace Masters. Captain America, Bucky, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner are on hand to welcome the recruits. (Whizzer is mentioned also, but I don't see him.)

Induction of recruits has been a regular occurrence, and Davey Drew can always tell who is going to die. He manifests a spectral demon's head overlaying his own in this scene.

Apart from Captain Flame and Davey Drew I can spot Slo-Mo, Young Avenger, Blue Diamond, Moon Man and Merzah at the party. Sgt Byrd, Flash Foster, Captain Strong, Invisible Man, Taxi Taylor, Transisto-Mech, Archie and Fin aren't recognisably there. We know Sgt Byrd, Archie the medic, Captain Strong and Flash Foster make it to a December 1944 episode in #1. Invisible Man, Taxi Taylor and Transisto-Mech are seen in the other WWII part of #1, later in June. But we'll have to wait until next issue to find out if Fin died in Sainte-Mere-Eglise.

Captain Flame tries to find a sympathetic ear in the similarly-powered Torch, but meets only a formal response. Masters strikes up a conversation with him, and Slo-Mo sees them leave the party. Jones follows them outside, and sees Cortez and Masters kissing.


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Carmine DiGiandomenico
Carmine DiGiandomenico
Andy Troy
Mico Suayan (Cover Penciler)
June Chung (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Bucky Barnes
Bucky Barnes

(James Barnes)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)

Plus: Nazis.

> All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes: Book info and issue index

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