SARGE STEEL

 
Full Name: Sargent Steel
Nationality: American
Organization: CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: Pat Masulli
Time Span: 1964 - 1967
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Sarge Steel is an agent in American Intelligence.
       His employment with a couple of different agencies was a gradual one, as is often the case. He certainly did not start out to be an agent but life took him places and opportunities, or necessities, came about and he ended up one very experienced operative.
       He started out his adult life as a soldier, joining into the U.S. Army in 1960 and quickly moving into the Special Forces. His position there must have been interesting since his first name is Sargent. That made it natural for the nickname of "Sarge" to be attached to him but all evidence points to Steel having immediately joined as an officer, not enlisted, and, with the conflict in Vietnam heating up quickly, he was soon enjoying the rank of Captain. So, he was officially Captain Sargent Steel.
       No matter his name or rank, his training in the Service was intense and he learned a great many things about survival and combating the enemy, skills that would keep him alive in many a nasty scrape later in his life. One of his talents was noticed soon and his time in the military shifted from fighting the other side to hunting down those ostensibly on his own side who were profiting illegally from the war effort. When a large army operates large activities in a foreign land, large amounts of supplies and armaments are needed and invariably large amounts go missing. Steel's job and his successes came from tracking down those involved in the missing.
       This made him very well known and very much disliked by the miscreants who were doing the stealing and they decided to get rid of him through the use of a grenade tossed into a window at a fancy party he was attending. He grabbed the object and heaved it back out the opening, saving many lives, but the explosion cost him his left hand. The Army offered him a prostetic but he decided to pass on the flesh-colored synthetic skinned ones and went with one in keeping with his name - a steel hand.
       Back in the States in need of work, he started a detective business. The same skills he used to hunt down war profiteers he now used to track people for civilian clients. He was pretty good at it, enough so that a lot of those found or being sought would try again and again to eliminate him but Steel's skills with martial arts, his prowess with a gun, and his now pretty lethal left hook kept him alive.
       Over a short time the type of clients he attracted became more and more in the meta-human category and his cases moved from tracking cheating spouses or embessling employees and became master criminals, mad scientists, and other nasties out for some pretty naughty schenanigans.
       Eventually he would be offered a position with the CIA and then to other agencies such as the Central Bureau of Intelligence and the Department of Metahuman Affairs.

Note: in the comic world it is annoying common for new writers and authors to decide to take the character into totally different directions and rather than just have the person change jobs, they often "retcon" (retroactive continuity) the character, essentially saying that what happened before really didn't and this is his new true past. This happened to Sarge Steel. The above data is based on his original life story.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Issues:18
First Appearance:1964
Last Appearance:1967

       Sarge Steel first appeared in his eponymous comic in late 1964 and came out bimonthly for eight issues. When his own comic ended, he took a few months off before returning to action as a backup story for Judomaster which also ran bimonthly.
       It is important to remember that comics were treated as magazines of a sort back then, at least as far as their numbering was concerned. Judomaster was the continuation of some other comic so its first issue was #89, not #1.
       Sarge Steel appeared in issue 91 of Judomaster and continued for another 8 issues.
       At the same time, Steel also showed up as the only occupant of a renamed continuation of his original series, now titled Secret Agent. Issue #9 coincided with Judomaster #91 and Issued #10 came out near the end of Steel's participation in Judomaster.
       In the back pages of Sarge Steel #3 and #4 were three-page informational packets about the art of Judo. These two training pieces also showed up in Fightin' 5 comics, issues #34 and #37.
       Steel also made two guest appearances in Thunderbolt comics as a CIA agent sent to bring in that comics' main character, Peter Cannon, for questioning. This was in that comic's issues #57 and #58.
       Sarge Steel would vanish from the comic pages due to Charlton Comics' demise but DC Comics acquired the rights to all of its characters and Steel would go on to bigger things but would never again be the star of his own stories.

1 File #101 - Case of the Pearls of Death File #101 - Case of the Pearls of Death
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Joe Gill (writer), Dick Giordani (artist)
Copyright: 12/01/1964

Sarge Steel #1 - The beautiful Lin Ying comes to Sarge Steel's office hiring him to locate her missing father who disappeared while transporting a cache of rare pearls. He learns the dangerous Ivan Chung was involved.

2 File #102 - Case of the Man Who Blackmailed The World File #102 - Case of the Man Who Blackmailed The World
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Joe Gill (writer), Dick Giordani (artist)
Copyright: 02/01/1965

Sarge Steel #2 - Kapitan Von Wess is one of the richest men in the world, and a former Nazi. He has a plan to take over the world and the means to pull it off if Sarge Steel cannot mess up his plans.

3 File #103 - Case of the Heritage of Hate File #103 - Case of the Heritage of Hate
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Joe Gill (writer), Dick Giordani (artist)
Copyright: 04/01/1965

Sarge Steel #3 - Sarge Steel is kidnapped and flown to South America where a bizarre looking assassin with the appropriate nickname of the Smiling Skull wants his head, and his luger.

4 File #104 - Case of the Kiss of the Cat File #104 - Case of the Kiss of the Cat
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Dick Giordani (artist), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 07/01/1965

Sarge Steel #4 -

5 File #105 - Case of the Caged Brain File #105 - Case of the Caged Brain
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Bill Montes (artist), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 09/01/1965

Sarge Steel #5 -

6 File #106 - Case of the King's Assassins File #106 - Case of the King's Assassins
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Bill Montes (artist), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 11/01/1965

Sarge Steel #6 - Sarge Steel is hired by to provide bodyguard protection to a visiting Arab monarch.

7 File #107 - The Day They Killed Sarge Steel File #107 - The Day They Killed Sarge Steel
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Dick Giordani (artist), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 01/01/1966

Sarge Steel #7 - A list has been released of the top agents around the world and Sarge Steel's name is on it. Those on the list are being targeted for death.

8 File #108 - Case of the Terrible Talon File #108 - Case of the Terrible Talon
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Bill Montes (artist), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 03/01/1966

Sarge Steel #8 - In West Berlin on an assignment, Sarge Steel becomes the prey for the master criminal Talon who has some special uses for the operative.

9 File #109 - The Warmaker File #109 - The Warmaker
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Ernie Bache (inker), Bill Montes (artist), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 10/01/1966

Secret Agent #9 - A dangerous man with very odd eye wear hires three nasties from Steel's past to help in his plot of terror and domination.

10 File #110 - Case of the Double Agent - Part One File #110 - Case of the Double Agent - Part One
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Frank McLaughlin (penciler), Dick Giordano (artist), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 10/01/1966

Judomaster #091 - At a televised missile launch, Sarge Steel is recorded shooting an astronaut.

11 File #110 - Case of the Double Agent - Part Two File #110 - Case of the Double Agent - Part Two
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Dick Giordani (artist), Joe Gill (writer), Frank McLaughlin (penciler)
Copyright: 12/01/1966

Judomaster #092 - The communists that Sarge Steel was trying to break up now believe him firmly in their camp.

12 File #111 - Case of the Devil's Wife - Part One File #111 - Case of the Devil's Wife - Part One
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Dick Giordano (inker), Bill Montes (penciler), Joe Gill (writer)
Copyright: 02/01/1967

Judomaster #93 -

13 File #111 - Case of the Devil's Wife - Part Two File #111 - Case of the Devil's Wife - Part Two
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Joe Gill (writer), Bill Montes (penciler), Dick Giordano (inker)
Copyright: 04/01/1967

Judomaster #94 - Conclusion

14 File #112 - Case of the Village Moneyman - Part One File #112 - Case of the Village Moneyman - Part One
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Steve Skeates (writer), Dick Giordani (penciler and inker)
Copyright: 06/01/1967

Judomaster #95 -

15 File #112 - Case of the Village Moneyman - Part Two File #112 - Case of the Village Moneyman - Part Two
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Steve Skeates (writer), Dick Giordani (penciler and inker)
Copyright: 08/01/1967

Judomaster #96 - Conclusion

16 File #113 - The Case of the Third Hand File #113 - The Case of the Third Hand
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Steve Skeates (writer), Dick Giordani (artist), D. Brazycki (letterer)
Copyright: 10/01/1967

Secret Agent #10 -

17 File #114 - Case of the Widow's Revenge File #114 - Case of the Widow's Revenge
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Steve Skeates (writer), Dick Giordani (artist), A. Machine (letterer)
Copyright: 10/01/1967

Judomaster #97 -

18 File #115 - Case of the Key West Caper File #115 - Case of the Key West Caper
Published by Charlton
Contributors: Dick Giordani (writer and artist)
Copyright: 12/01/1967

Judomaster #98 -

MY COMMENTS

       I love a hard-fisted detective and I love a hard-fisted secret agent and with Sarge Steel I got both. And the hard-fist really cannot get much harder than a steel hand able to pound through a door or a bad guy's face.
       Life in the comics must be over the top to make it in the business and Sarge Steel's certainly was. He came into being when James Bond was hot and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. was just starting and Spillane's Mike Hammer was really strong so Steel became a Hammer-ish private eye who walks in the cloak and dagger world a lot.
       The fact that Steel did not survive in his own comic for very long was more due to Charlton Comics never quite making it (they made a valiant effort, though). The fact that when D.C. bought Charlton's characters, they found a use for him that continues on to this date does talk to how interesting he is.
       I would not expect, when reading these stories, to have them make a lot of sense or be even a little close to realistic. Comics and realism do not know each other. And I for one am glad they never met. I like the world reading about the world the Comics people inhabit and I enjoyed the Sarge Steel stories a good deal.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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