Combat Kelly (II) and the Deadly Dozen

First Appearance: Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen #1 (June 1972).
Appearances: Sergeant Fury #98, Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen #1-9.
Years Active: 1941-1943?

The Deadly Dozen are a group of convicts who have volunteered for combat duty in exchange for pardons. The Dozen are: Hillbilly Wagner, a Southerner and country singer who carries his guitar into battle and serenades the enemy with it; Jake Jensen, a middle-aged African-American pickpocket; Howard Shigeta, a Japanese-American; Snake-Eye Simpson, who is out for himself and not to be trusted; Donald Sample, a French lockpick and spy who served time for theft of valuable government papers; Bullseye Miller, an African-American mechanic and sharpshooter (hence the name); Ace Hamilton, a "pretty-boy" who is also a psychotic, bloodthirsty knife-fighter from a wealthy, upper-class fighter; and Laurie Livingston, a British woman.

Kelly himself is Corporal Michael Lee "Combat" Kelly, a red-haired Irishman from Boston with a great deal of similarity to Nick Fury, although Kelly is younger and clean-shaven. Kelly, in his own words, had "been fightin' and killin' all [his] life" before being tapped by Happy Sam Sawyer to lead the Dozen. Kelly had a short but successful career as a heavyweight boxer before being drafted, but one thing had led to another and he'd killed a man with his bare hands. It was in a government prison where Sawyer found him.

The Dozen were originally led by by Dum-Dum Dugan, who led the unit for only an issue before Kelly was given command of the group, thus allowing Dugan to return to the Howling Commandos. Likewise, the Dozen had for short periods other members. Dino Minelli and Percy Pinkerton of the Howling Commandos also served with the Dozen, as did Jay Little Bear, the bow-wielding Native American member of Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders who was doing time on a "bum rap." Other members included Doc Watson, a middle-aged 19-year veteran of the Army and Hoss Cosgrove, an uncooperative tough guy ex-wrestler who served under Dugan but not under Kelly.

The Dozen worked alongside the Howling Commandos for two issues, and then later on their own for seven issues. By the end of the series all of the Dozen were dead, Laurie (who by this time had become Kelly's lover) was crippled by a Nazi's surgical experiment, and Kelly had resigned from the Army.

Notes: I don't really need to point out who Gary Friedrich ripped off with the "Deadly Dozen," do I? Or the numerous stereotypes?

The original Combat Kelly (I) was never brought into continuity, nor did Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen ever acknowledge the existance of the original. Michael Hoskins points out that an article in Marvel Vision #28 claimed that the two Combat Kellys were meant to be the same character, although that would be an unfortunate retcon and would invalidate Kelly (I)'s Korean adventures.

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