Dum Dum Dugan is coming back – and it’s at the hands of the very writer that killed him.
After a story in Original Sins #5 revealed Dum Dum Dugan as having been replaced by a Life Model Decoy some years ago after dying, many fans said there was no way he could be brought back. But writer Al Ewing didn’t just see that as a challenge, he saw it as an imperative. And now, as part of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s 50th anniversary, Ewing and an as-yet-unnamed artist are getting the chance to roll back the clock and bring Dugan back to life in a story for August's S.H.I.E.L.D. #9.
Ewing opened up about the return of Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos in S.H.I.E.L.D. #9, explaining why his story lets him have his cake and eat it, too.
Newsarama: You wrote the Original Sins story that killed off Dum Dum Dugan. Did you already have plans to bring him back, or is that something that developed organically?
Al Ewing: Pretty much as soon as I'd killed him off, I thought up three or four ways to bring him back. Partly because people on websites were saying that Dugan had been killed in such a way that he could never, never, never return, which is frankly like a red rag to a bull, but mostly because I liked writing him and wanted another crack at it sometime. So I had plans in the back of my head, and I mentioned them as part of the plans for another thing, and people seem to like my thinking on him - and here we are.
Nrama: Obviously, Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos are a big part of S.H.I.E.L.D. lore. What’s it like handling such an important part of the 50th anniversary?
Ewing: It's good! I kind of feel like I'm having that cake and eating it, in that I get to bring Dum Dum back home in time for the fiftieth, but at the same time I'm not ignoring or retconning anything. The most important part of a fiftieth anniversary, to me, is the next fifty years - and Dum Dum's going to be left in a good position to meet the future head on.
Nrama: Editor Jon Moisan said that the versions of Dum Dum and the Howling Commandos we see in this story are “unlike any version of the characters we’ve seen before.” We've seen a lot, from the 1940s originals to the monster squad a couple years ago to the special forces team in The Punisher. What can you tell us about who they are and how they’ll be different?
Ewing: Well, he's not wrong. These Howling Commandos are closer to the monster squad than the special forces team, but I'm pretty sure every character making their debut - or in some cases, their return - in this story will have something enticingly different about them. We're certainly going places with some of these characters that we haven't been to before.
These Howling Commandos are S.T.A.K.E. - S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Special Threat Assessment for Known Extranormalities. (I mention that because I worked out what that acronym stood for and I'm still fairly proud of not having 'Key Emergencies' in there.) So they're up against an extranormality - or a monster, to use old-fashioned speak. And they're assessing it. But there's more to all this, as you can probably guess.
Nrama: How will your story tie into the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. #9, if at all?
Ewing: It won't, as far as I know - and that's a good thing for me, because I really want to read the rest of the issue without any spoilers! It sounds like it's going to be ace.
Nrama: Do you have any other S.H.I.E.L.D. related or Dum Dum projects coming up?
Ewing: You'll very likely be seeing Dum Dum again from me - but that involves some post-Secret Wars stuff, so I have to be very cagey about it.
Nrama: What is it about the Howling Commandos that makes them such a compelling part of Marvel lore?
Ewing: It's a name with a lot of pedigree in the Marvel Universe - having characters that were fighting in World War II gives the Marvel Universe a depth of history, which I think strikes a chord with a lot of people. That said, it's the Leatherneck Raiders I feel sorry for. Nobody cares about them. Poor old Simon Savage, sitting alone on a houseboat somewhere. Drumming his fingers. He's got Infinity Formula and everything. Just waiting for the call. Waiting and waiting. He's got a guy on his team called "Blarney" Stone - can Mister Fancy Pants Nick Fury say the same? I think not. And yet Nick Fury - Mister Big Britches - he gets to kill the Watcher and get exiled to the moon. All right for some, eh. There's no justice. No justice in this fallen world.
Nrama: Will this be a true resurrection for Dum Dum Dugan? Should we tell his family members that daddy's coming home, or should we wait on that just yet?
Ewing: I think, by the end of the issue, readers will be happy to have Dum Dum back - "truly" resurrected or otherwise.