December 5, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #206: The Creature Commandos

Sometimes you need monsters to win a war. And sometimes you need to make them.

It seems as if every so often, I write up one of these columns on some weird bunch or solo character DC Comics used for the company’s war comics.  Heck, my second column in this series covered one such solo oddball hero.

And then this week, I realized I never covered the Creature Commandos, so here we are.

What made the Creature Commandos different from oh so many others?  Simple:  they were monsters.  Literal monsters.

The Creature Commandos first appeared in Weird War Tales #93 in 1980.  Written by J,M. DeMatteis with art from Pat Broderick, the team consisted of a group of soldiers that were mutated by the best science fiction the 1940s had to offer into something akin to big screen movie monsters.  They were:

  • Pvt. Lucky Taylor, AKA Patches, who had barely survived stepping on a landmine.  The surgery needed to keep him alive turned him into some kind of Frankenstein-style monster, and his vocal cords were ruined.
  • Warren Griffith, a timid farm boy whose treatment turned him into a werewolf.
  • Sgt. Vincent Velcro/Velcoro, who volunteered to avoid a 30 year prison sentence and became the team’s vampire.
  • Dr. Myrra Rhodes, who after inhaling some experimental gas found her hair turned to snakes and at least looked like a gorgon.

And along for the ride was their commanding officer, Lt. Shrieve.  He was a normal human who frequently told the Commandos they were monsters and acted like an all around snickerdoodle.  It was probably one of those “Who’s the real monster here?” moments that unsubtle comics use all the time.  That still works, but it isn’t subtle.

The Commandos would have a few adventures, even teaming up with the G.I. Robot.  Their original adventures ended when the Commandos, with the Robot, got on a rocket to go to Berlin and ended up getting blasted into space by mistake.  More recent comics brought them back when Brainiac attacked Earth and while Superman was investigating Brainiac’s ship, he found the Commandos and the Robot in suspended animation on board.

But somehow before that happened, they appeared in a Tim Truman-written mini-series set sometime in the near future.  This group of Creature Commandos was a bit bigger.

Truman’s line-up.

For this series, the originals save Velcro (now Velcoro) got codenames, namely Wolfpack, Dr. Medusa, and Patchwork.  Medusa and Velcoro had both mutated further.  A mummy named Aten was their communications specialist, and there was a gillman named Bogman.  Shrieve was dead and gone and replaced by another DC war hero, namely Captain Lucius Hunter, and onetime member of the Losers Gunner was revived from the dead as a cyborg.

So, that’s the team, right?  Well, not quite.  See, the New 52 happened, and that would mean a lot of resets and the Commandos were no different.  Where did they turn up?  In a new book featuring the Frankenstein character Grant Morrison more or less created with his Seven Soldiers project, where the rather eloquent title monster joined the secret government group S.H.A.D.E. and had a new Commandos team as his sidekicks.  Obviously Patchwork was gone, but Velcoro and Wolfpack were still present from the original team.  A new mummy character was added in the form of team medic Khalis.  And as for the lone female member, she was now Dr. Nina Mazursky, and she’d done some experiments on herself and instead of a gorgon, she was a fish-person.

So, that’s the current status as near as I can make out.  It would seem like classic movie monsters, you can’t keep these things down for long.


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