For this weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post we’ll do the DC characters called the Creature Commandos.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #93 (November 1980)
Title: The Creature Commandos
Villains: Nazi soldiers
Synopsis: This story introduced Project M, a fictional 1942 War Department effort to unleash supernatural monsters upon the Axis armies. The members of these Creature Commandos:
*** Warren Griffith, an institutionalized teenager who irrationally thought he was a werewolf, so the scientists of Project M turned him into a real, biological man-wolf who could become his monstrous self at will.
*** Marine Private Elliot “Lucky” Taylor, who blew away much of his body by stepping on a land mine. Government scientists used patchwork body parts to reassemble him into a huge, yellow-skinned Frankenstein’s Monster figure.
*** Army Sergeant Vincent Velcro, who was given a choice of 30 years of hard labor for crippling a superior officer or being a human guinea pig for chemical injections derived from bat blood. The injections turned him into a science-spawned vampire.
*** Lieutenant Matthew Shrieve, Army Intelligence, a normal human placed in charge of the Creature Commandos.
In their first mission, the Commandos are sent into France to attack Castle Conquest, where the Nazis and French collaborators are designing android duplicates of high-level politicians from Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on down. The plan is to use the nearly completed robots to replace the originals and surrender to the Axis Nations.
Naturally, our heroes succeed amid much bloodshed, and we learn that Shrieve himself has a monstrous personality as he ruthlessly risks the lives of his Commandos while keeping them in the dark about what is really going on.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #97 (March 1981)
Title: The Faceless Enemy
Villains: Nazi soldiers and attack dogs
Synopsis: The team is sent into another part of France to rescue Doctor Frederique, a woman who is one of France’s top scientists. It turns out to be a trap meant to lure our heroes to their deaths, but naturally they survive.
NOTE: The way that Lieutenant Shrieve and his superiors keep the Commandos in the dark and the almost non-stop arguing among them all anticipated the Suicide Squad by a matter of years.
The “human in charge of classic monster figures” aspect predated the overrated and overpraised Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as well. And, yes, this series predated Hell Boy, too.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #100 (June 1981)
Title: Dinosaur Convoy
Villains: Dinosaurs and Imperial Japanese soldiers
Synopsis: It is now 1943 and the Creature Commandos are sent to an island crawling with time-lost dinosaurs which have been preying upon both Allied and Axis soldiers.
Our heroes fight to overcome the dinosaurs AND the Japanese forces. After subduing the Imperial troops, the Commandos use the dinosaurs against a convoy of Japanese warships.
NOTE: The Creature Commandos WILL gain a female member before too much longer, if you’re wondering.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #102 (August 1981)
Title: The Children’s Crusade
Villains: Nazi children
Synopsis: The Creature Commandos are sent into Germany, where they attack a concentration camp in which children of political prisoners are experimented on to become feral killing machines.
The team ultimately wins through a combination of fighting prowess and luck when the chemicals used to transform the children wind up causing them to bloat up and then melt after a certain amount of time.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #105 (November 1981)
Title: The War at Home
Villains: Nazi sympathizers in America
Synopsis: After a training session against a tank corps, the Commandos are sent to Freedom, New York, an ironically named town which is really populated exclusively by Nazi sympathizers ready to covertly help the Axis war effort.
The team comes out on top after a lengthy battle, but the creatures are even more disgusted than ever with Lt. Shrieve’s cold, callous nature.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #108 (February 1982)
Title: In the Kingdom of the Damned
Villains: Nazi concentration camp guards
Synopsis: The Creature Commandos are sent to raid a German concentration camp but wind up captured when it turns out the Nazis have devised some counter-measures against our heroes.
They are put through days of torture and interrogation and slave labor until one night the Nazis prepare to execute them in high-tech ways. They also plan to film it all so they can use this victory in a propaganda movie.
The Commandos turn the tables on their captors and escape after killing a French scientist collaborating with the Nazis on a nerve gas powerful enough to wipe out London in one stroke.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #109 (March 1982)
Title: Roses Are Red, But Blood is Redder
Villains: Nazi soldiers
Synopsis: It is now 1944 and the Creature Commandos are sent in to blow Knolde Dam.
The destruction of the dam will unleash enough water to drown an entire nearby Panzer Division, which is why this mission is codenamed Operation: Cloudburst.
The battle against the Nazi soldiers guarding the dam goes on longer than the Commandos anticipated and they, just like the Panzer Division, are getting swept along by the flood waters when their preset bomb blows up the dam. This is the first cliffhanger ending for a story in this series.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #110 (April 1982)
Title: A Mirror for Monsters
Villains: Nazi military forces
Synopsis: The Creature Commandos are able to survive the flash flood that kills the Nazis but their leader Lt. Shrieve is badly injured and unconscious. The team fights to get him back to the Allied lines where he can receive medical care.
Female Doctor Myrra Rhodes operates on him and pulls him through. Eventually, Shrieve is well enough to resume leading his Commandos but on the day he is being let go, the unintentional release of assorted experimental gases and chemicals transforms Dr. Rhodes into a monster herself – she now has hair made of long, living snakes whose fangs pack deadly venom.
After Myrra helps the team defeat a sudden German attack, she joins the Creature Commandos with the codename Dr. Medusa. She hides the snakes under a turban when not in action.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #111 (May 1982)
Title: The Doomsday Robots
Villains: The Doomsday Robots
Villains: Dinosaurs, Doomsday Robots and the Imperial Japanese
NOTE: This is a crossover story with another of DC’s Weird War characters the G.I. Robot, also called J.A.K.E. for Jungle Automatic Killer Experiment.
Synopsis: The Creature Commandos are sent back to the Pacific Theater of Operations this time around. At Japanese-held Tattu Island they once again battle dinosaurs and wind up aided by the G.I. Robot.
Ultimately, the team is captured by a futuristic flying submarine that takes them to a long-lost colony of Atlantis far beneath the waves. (They MENTION Lemuria, the Pacific Ocean’s variation on Atlantis but for some weird reason don’t just call this subaquatic civilization that.)
The seemingly human Atlanteans are warring on both sides of World War Two, and when the Creature Commandos fight them, they realize they are really robots created by the long-dead Atlanteans. The robots survived their creators by thousands of years and stayed hidden until the chaos of World War Two prompted them to take action.
The Doomsday Robots think they have successfully reprogrammed the G.I. Robot to help them wipe out an approaching Allied fleet, but J.A.K.E. sacrifices his artificial life destroying the Doomsday Robots instead.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #112 (June 1982)
Title: The Medusa Sting
Villains: Rommel’s Afrika Korps
NOTE: The writers got careless with their World War Two history here. We were told that Dr. Medusa didn’t join the Creature Commandos until 1944 a few issues back, but in this story the team fights alongside General George S. Patton in North Africa shortly after the American loss at Kasserine Pass – which happened in February 1943.
Synopsis: The team drive off the Afrika Korps but then get lost in the desert while pursuing them. Ultimately they catch up to Rommel and his boys and hand them another defeat, largely through the leadership and determination of Dr. Medusa, who saves the entire team.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #114 (August 1982)
Title: Circus of Madness
Villains: Nazi forces
Synopsis: After the Creature Commandos rout some S.S. troops, they get an assignment to go undercover as a traveling carnival so they can free a Jewish scientist from a Nazi death camp.
NOTE: In the often-sloppy writing and continuity of comic books, the team can get away with this and are even forced to perform for Hitler and his aides even though past issues have made it clear that the Nazis are aware of their existence as the Creature Commandos.
The team at last find the scientist they were sent in to rescue, an old colleague of Albert Einstein. They free him and, with the help of the Jewish inmates, kill all the Nazis. The scientist leaves with our heroes but the other Jews decide to form a guerilla band and fight the Axis.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #115 (September 1982)
Title: You Can’t Pin a Medal on a Robot
Villains: Nazi forces
Synopsis: In England between missions, the team meets J.A.K.E. II, the new, upgraded model of the G.I. Robot. The android was being repaired after its latest damages suffered in the Pacific Theater of Operations.
When J.A.K.E. II is fully repaired, he and the Creature Commandos take in Picadilly Circus and other locations. They are befriended by a fictional blind British princess and wind up having to save her from an air and sea raid by the Nazis.
Ultimately the villains abduct the princess in a submarine but the G.I. Robot is able to catch up with the sub and bring her back safely.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #116 (October 1982)
Title: Doorway to Hell
Villains: Inferna and Nazis
Synopsis: After another battle in North Africa with Rommel’s Afrika Korps, the Creature Commandos are sent on a mission to Agrigento, Sicily.
NOTE: The writers and editors of this series had obviously completely shrugged off actual history by this point, so just go with it no matter how chronologically off their adventures are. Hell, last time around they claimed the story with the princess was happening during the Blitz.
While aiding the Sicilian Campaign, our heroes also clash with Inferna, the daughter of the Roman deities Pluto and Proserpine. The good guys drive her back down into the Netherworld.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #117 (November 1982)
Title: A Miracle for Monsters
Villains: Nazi soldiers
Synopsis: In this story the Creature Commandos are on their way to Lourdes on leave.
Along the way they encounter Nazi legions shepherding French prisoners and attack them.
When all is said and done, our heroes win out and the Nazis are routed.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #118 (December 1982)
Title: Heroes Come in Small Sizes
Villains: Erich Kunzer and his team of Nazi saboteurs, escape from a military prison and – now armed – have taken a class of blind children from a school near Fontainebleu to use as hostages.
The Creature Commandos intercept the train that Kunzer and his men have hijacked. After a brutal fight our heroes have killed all of the Nazis and rescued the brave little children.
The Commandos receive medals from Great Britain’s king after this battle.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #119 (January 1983)
Title: World Under Glass
Villains: Mussolini’s troops
Synopsis: The Creature Commandos – in what we are back to being told is 1943 – are sent into Mussolini’s Italy to free yet another scientist from captivity.
Our heroes clash with and kill plenty of enemy soldiers and free the female scientist Alesso. Among this brilliant scientist’s creations is a time machine which she allows to be used by the Creature Commandos – minus the normal (but internally monstrous) Lt. Shrieve.
The team winds up hundreds of years in the future, where they find the last vestige of civilization living under a glass dome following a nuclear war in 2243. The people of the future are even more scornful of our heroic monsters’ appearance than people of their own era and try to have them killed in a futuristic Coliseum by being fed to lions.
The Commandos fight their way free and use the time machine to return to 1943.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #121 (March 1983)
Title: Death Smiles Thrice
Villains: Robotic Nazi soldiers
Synopsis: The Creature Commandos are taken aboard a submarine for transport to their latest mission.
That mission takes them to Holland, where they must destroy hidden Nazi V2 locations but find themselves opposed by Hitler’s latest “wonder weapons” – robot soldiers that can pass as both sexes.
In the end the team destroys all the robots in battle and knocks out all of the V2 locations.
WEIRD WAR TALES Vol 1 #124 (June 1983)
Title: Destination Unknown
Villains: Anyone involved with this story
NOTE: This was the final issue of the original run of Weird War Tales. The Creature Commandos were not featured on the cover and most of the issue was filled with oddball stories that seem like the editors were just dumping any material that hadn’t been used yet into this lone issue before cancellation.
Bizarrely enough, rather than just omit the Creature Commandos from the issue, which would have left their story open to be revived any time in the years ahead, a ONE-PAGE final story was jammed in by DC.
Synopsis: With only one page for the storyline, readers are plunked down right as the Creature Commandos and the G.I. Robot are facing execution BY THEIR OWN SIDE! We are told that Dr. Medusa and the others are grateful to the “thousands” of character witnesses who testified on their behalf at some Court Martial we’ll never get to see.
The idiotic, incoherent story tells us that our heroes are to be shot by a firing squad for “rebelliously displaying signs of humanity.” (?) General Paul Levitz is named as the officer involved. Lt. Shrieve shows up at the last minute with an order commuting the Commandos’ sentence.
The team is to be placed aboard an experimental intercontinental ballistic missile aimed at Hitler’s chancellery in Berlin. (To what end? Missiles don’t have pilots or a crew.) The Creature Commandos and the G.I. Robot climb aboard, saluted by Lt. Shrieve. G.I. Robot’s mascots C.A.P.D. the robot dog and R.K. the robot kitten also board the missile.
The idiocy continues in the final panel as we see technicians crying out that the missile is malfunctioning and is out of control. It reaches escape velocity and is declared to be heading for some “unknown destination beyond the stars.” Wait, what? This “missile” was provided with some kind of warp drive? For a trip from England to Germany? Where it was set to detonate and wipe out Hitler and his vicinity?
And if you think that’s weird, Lt. Shrieve triumphantly says “They’ve done it! They’ve done it!” But … but … the missile malfunctioned. What have the Creature Commandos “done” exactly? Then Shrieve wonders if they’ll ever hear from the team again. Well, no, Lieutenant, you won’t. No food or water (or blood) were placed aboard the missile, so how are they supposed to survive this out of control journey into outer space?
Out of all the half-assed, abrupt finales ever forced by sudden cancellations, this is the most hilariously inane one I’ve ever read. And ultimately, DC simply brought back the Creature Commandos in the future during one of the company’s countless readjustments of its continuity, so this dumb one-pager served no purpose anyway.