Storming the castle. Artists: Montes & Bache.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1964
Creators: Joe Gill (writer), Bill Montes and Ernie Bache (artists)
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Practically since comic books assumed their modern form, the small, quasi-military organizations that fought menaces threatening international wellbeing and stability, fit right in with the superheroes. The exemplar is Blackhawk, but similar outfits included Sky Wolf's group, The Death Patrol

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… and suchlike organizations. Even without a world war to generate such menaces, a later generation of superhero dominance brought out Charlton Comics' band of military-style action heroes, The Fightin' Five.

The Five were Frenchy the Fox, Irv "The Nerve" Haganah, Granite Gallero, Hank Hennesy, and "Tom-Tom" (a professional name the fifth fightin' man used in wrestling). To enhance their military-sounding ambience, they bore the labels FF1-FF5, in the order named. It was important to enumerate them in order, so their first-name initials would form the acronym "F.I.G.H.T." The team was blurbed on most covers as "America's Super Squad".

All of them were perfectly adept in all the skills guys who do what they did need, but they had specialties. Frenchy, for example was a frogman (no relation) and Irv was an urban adventurer. There was also a rudimentary attempt at characterization, such as making Hank a globe-trotting playboy.

The five were introduced in Fightin' Five #28 (July, 1964), when the CIA, which people used to think of as good guys back in the Cold War, recruited them. The story was written by Charlton mainstay Joe Gill (The Blue Beetle, Vengeance Squad) and drawn by the team of Bill Montes, penciller, and Ernie Bache, inker (Konga, Sarge Steel). The first 27 issues were a sci-fi comic named Space War.

The Fightin' Five title lasted until #41 (January, 1967), and the only change in the team was to kill off Irv and have Hank lose an eye and an arm, at the end of its run. But The Peacemaker was introduced in #40 (November, 1966) as a back-pages feature.

The team's apparent demise was actually a re-emphasis, based on a belief that the back-up feature would make a stronger lead character. Fightin' Five #41 was followed immediately with Peacemaker #1 (March, 1967). The former lead team was reduced to back-pages status. There, they were brought back up to full membership by the addition of ex-Commie agent "Sonya" (no relation) and shunting Hank off to a a desk job instead of cutting him altogether.

Apparently, the re-emphasis wasn't enough of a success to make their new venue an exception to the cancellation of Charlton's entire superhero line. The last issue of Peacemaker was #5 (November, 1967), and that was the end of The Fightin' Five as the stars of new adventures.

But there were a couple of attempts at marketing them in reprint form. In 1981, they were brought back, but only lasted eight issues. After Charlton folded, comics entrepreneur Roger Broughton (Herbie, Forbidden Worlds) bought most of the company's available properties. He brought out a reprint in 1998, under the title The Power of Five, but that only lasted one issue.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Charlton Comics.