Friday, 10 June 2016


From April 1979: One of the strangest Star Age entries from Marvel Comics: WHAT IF SGT. FURY HAD FOUGHT WORLD WAR TWO IN OUTER SPACE? Really.

WHAT IF issue 14 is, as the cover so tellingly teases, silly stuff (a cigar... in a spacesuit) but delivered with a whopping dose of action and is well worth digging out of the back issues boxes if found at a reasonable price.

I was convinced that this had an outing in STAR WARS WEEKLY here in the UK because I'm sure I read it in one of the weeklies when I was little. But I'm struggling to track down the correct issues... Which makes me wonder whether I imagined it. And yet... I must have seen it somewhere in the British line. A mystery! 

Despite boasting a classic Nick Fury in Space cover on its first issue (reviving the old British Marvel tradition of covers that only roughly related to the actual contents), the strip wasn't recycled in the pages of FUTURE TENSE... but probably would have been had the fortuitous failure of VALOUR not alleviated the need to find enough reprints to feed the SF anthology.


  1. Slow, I don't recall this ever turning up in Star Wars Weekly. Are you sure?

    The story was reprinted fairly recently in the "Classic What If ...?" series of trade paperbacks, vol 3 I think.

    1. I think they may have run it under one of their generic umbrella titles. I'm sure I read it at the time because it stuck in the memory and there's no possibility I saw the US original. I am, however, willing to be proven wrong.

  2. Maybe in Team-Up or Forces in Combat ...?

  3. I'm almost 100 % certain it was run in SWW although I'll have to check which issues exactly.

    It was one of Dez Skinn's masterstrokes to run so many other SF themed strips in the pages of SWW. For many of us, it would have been our first exposure to such characters as Thanos, Warlock, Deathlok and even The Micronauts.

  4. Hi Ed,

    I couldn't agree more. Fond memories of Micronauts, Gerber's erratic Guardians of the Galaxy run, Warlock, Deathlok and even a very harshly lopped showing for ROM Spaceknight (reprinting #1, 2 and then skipping wildly forward about two years and ceasing mid-subplot with a whole human village kidnapped by aliens!).

  5. I don't think the SF reprints were so much a masterstroke, more just a way of bulking out the very finite amount of SW strips to sustain a weekly schedule. Otherwise they would have devoured one US issue a week if it had been cover-to-cover SW.

    Clearly SF was hot at the peak of the Star Age but it would be interesting to know whether one of the motivators for increasing the number of SF tinged comics in the States during this period was to generate extra content for the UK weekly. Before 1979, pagination decisions were still being made in NY.

    Skinn was gone by 1980, before the ROM strip finally made it into the STAR WARS monthly.

    I always think of FUTURE TENSE as a compendium of SW supporting features (or would be supporting features) without an exceptionally strong lead strip (think: JD in 2000AD) to anchor them.

  6. I can indeed confirm that story was printed in SWW 66-69 under the umbrella title ' tales of the watcher ' .

    Didn't I read on this blog before that Skinn considered using battlestar galactica as one of the back-up strips ? In the end, he decided it was too similar to star wars so it ended up in the STAR HEROES pocketbook.

    As a kid , it never occurred to me that these were reprints from the usa comics. And I probably didn't understand them much either. They just seemed so weird, outlandish and strange.

    Good point slow about the finite amount of SW material and that includes the extra stories not run in the usa comic plus the later uk strips by alan moore et al.

    FUTURE TENSE was always intended to be a compilation comic without a lead strip although star trek and rom both featured quite strongly on the cover. Speaking of which, doesn't issue 1's cover seem awfully similar to this sgt. fury story ?

  7. The cover of the first FT is indeed similar to the WHAT IF story (thanks for confirming the issues... I'm glad I'm not crazy) but it first hailed from an issue of - without checking - Strange Tales.

    I've always thought that FT was cobbled together in a hurry which is why the early issues were so under powered. It looks like M-UK weren't able to secure STAR TREK for the first month because it makes no sense not to launch with such a high-profile strip.

    According to Skinn in COMICS INTERNATIONAL, Fox (understandably) nixed plans to run Battlestar in SWW. It would have been a great for editorially (and for readers) but would have been weird considering the lawsuits taking place in the States.

  8. Great research, Ed! I read all those SWWs but this must have been very forgettable. Although I think I skipped past a lot of those Tales of the Watcher, became more drawn in by Warlock, et al.

    Re: Battlestar Galactica in SWW ... according to Dez, it was Lucasfilm who nixed the plan to run it as a back-up strip (see here, just above the four images of Vader, Cylon, Baron Karza and Dr Doom):

  9. happy to be of service krusty and thanks for the link.

    some good stuff on that blog.

  10. but I didn't care for his comments on carmine infantino whose covers were an integral part of SWW.

  11. I prefer Infantino's Star Wars now to when I read it at the time. His work seemed dated and old-fashioned when I saw it as a child, but now it has a timeless quality.

    Infantino brought so much imagination to the Star Wars universe, and he seemed to flourish outside of his usual comfort zone of urban superheroes (I should add here that I appreciate that comment rather overlooks his Adam Strange and other excursions, but I'll always think of him as the Flash and 60s Batman artist).

  12. That's exactly how I felt as a kid. His art seemed too ' squashed ' looking but now in retrospect, its amazing and perfectly suited to star wars.

    You can always spot Infantino's style especially when characters seem to be running sideways. I forgot to mention STAR-LORD in the list of back-up strips for SWW.

    The early stories were also drawn by Infantino, he was born to create cosmic space opera.


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