Savage and the Raiders trapped in an exotic setting. Artist: John Severin.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1964
Creators: Gary Friedrich (writer) and Dick Ayers (artist)
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From his very beginning as a publishing entrepreneur, Martin Goodman, founder of Marvel Comics, operated on the philosophy that if something succeeded in the market, then the market could benefit by being …

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… flooded with it. He did superheroes that way in the 1940s, westerns in the '50s, and superheroes again in the '60s. One of his company's lesser successes in the '60s was Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos, but it was still a success. It took a few years, but the obviously derivative Captain Savage & His Leatherneck Raiders eventually followed.

Captain Savage (no relation, by the way) was also a product of a Marvel Comics trend that was just getting started — promoting supporting, even incidental characters to starring roles. When first seen, he was known only as "The Skipper", and his only purpose was occasional chance meetings with Fury. He made his first appearance in Sgt. Fury #10 (September, 1964), when Fury and his men needed transportation from their usual haunts in Europe, to Okinawa, and he was the one running the submarine that took them there. Four issues later, he was the one who took them back. After that, practically every time they crossed water they did so in a submarine, and he happened to be the one in charge of it.

After a half-dozen or so encounters, he was promoted to the lead position in his own title. For this he needed a name, so they dubbed him Simon Savage. It was also necessary to give him a new job, leading combat-happy joes into battle instead of just sitting inside a metal box all day, so he'd be more like a Fury clone. One wonders why they didn't just start with a new character instead of revamping such an unsuitable one, but whatever the reason, Captain Savage & His Leatherneck Raiders #1 had a cover date of January, 1968. It was written by Gary Friedrich (The Ghost Rider, Frankenstein) and pencilled by Dick Ayers (Jonah Hex, The Human Torch). The inker was John Severin (Rawhide Kid, Cracked magazine), whose art style was more prominent in the final product than that of Ayers.

The "Leatherneck Raiders" were an ethnically mixed group, including a Frenchman, an Irishman, a Native American and a couple of others, providing shorthand characterization. The group was retitled Captain Savage & His Battlefield Raiders with its 9th issue. No reason was given, but it might have had something to do with readers not being familiar with military slang, in which a Leatherneck was understood to be a member of the U.S. Marines.

Another trend at Marvel that was just then gaining momentum was neatly tying everything up into a tiny, self-contained universe, where everybody keeps tripping over everybody else. Accordingly, Savage quickly got tangled up with Baron Strucker, previously established as a present-day villain. Strucker was already getting involved with Hydra, the organization that, back in the "present", was to bedevil Fury in his Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. persona. Ben Grimm, The Thing of The Fantastic Four, turned up in his earlier role as a World War II fighting man. And of course, Fury and his outfit were frequent guests, despite the fact that the two groups generally operated on different sides of the world.

Savage et al. managed to do all this in a mere 19 issues, the last dated March, 1970. The character wasn't used much after that, but years later, Iron Man encountered a U.S. Naval vessel named after him. So presumably, he had some fairly significant later adventures.


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Text ©2006-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.