Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia original artists
This is one of my all time favorite SGT.FURY covers! The thing just reeks with drama--and as an added bonus, the already moody illustration comes replete with a swell batch of atypical line work shading!! And let's not overlook what the colors contribute to this piece's effectiveness--bold swathes of red and yellow played against a subdued palette of blues, grays and greens really make the images pop off the page! Yeah, I like this one...
The story behind the image? Well, at the time of it's publication, it impressed me quite a bit more than it does in retrospect, I'm afraid, but that's pretty much true of the entire Howling Commando's oeuvre. Back when I was a kid, their adventures seemed like nothing less than the gripping escapades of a top-flight fighting force, a bonded bunch of warriors who laughed in the face of life and death conflict. Looking over these books now, however, I mostly see a bunch of stereotypes armed with some of Stan Lee's lesser wisecracks battling Nazis mostly with their bare-fists--not the BRIGHTEST of ideas--as the never-ending soap opera of half a dozen grown men living in close quarters seems to go on endlessly. And after the first seven issues, we didn't even have the blockbuster battle art of the King Kirby to wallow in anymore. Except on the covers--and by the time this issue rolled off the presses, even THAT small solace was becoming increasingly rare!

There's a Nazi master of disguise out to get the Sarge in this installment of "As the War Turns", y'see, and not just any old Nazi master of disguise, either! Nosirree! Fury was being tracked by none other than the Red Skull himself!! That's right, Captain America's greatest foe decided to take a little time off of Cap hunting and instead track down the future director of S.H.I.E.L.D.!! Back in'65, this notion seemed SO cool to me, and elevated this issue far above the others around it. I mean, the good Captain was--and continues to be--my favorite character, so having his most dangerous enemy cross-over into Fury's territory--NEAT!! Except, well, we never actually SAW the old fella in his ever-distinctive crimson bonehead mask, not even for a single panel!?! Why, if it weren't for a tell-tale thought balloon, even the reader wouldn't have known the true identity of the Nazi nasty tracking the head Howler. And no way do we ever see his REAL face, uh uh, nope. So, a lot of promise ultimately went unfulfilled. On the plus side, though, there's a nice feeling of paranoia running throughout the tale as Fury, aware he's being tracked, begins to suspect EVERYONE around him as being his hidden stalker. Maybe that's why I love this cover so much--it captures that desperate feeling so perfectly in a mere single illustration. Standing at the edge of a cliff above a roiling sea with menacing shadows portraying the distinctive head gear of his fellow Howlers, rifles drawn and ready for use, Fury looks for all the world to be done for!! Whew!! That leaves only one question unanswered--why isn't the Sarge wearing a shirt? I mean, he's not bare-chested anywhere INSIDE the book--why does Kirby seem to insist on ol' Nick fighting World War Two TOPLESS?!? THAT'S an even bigger mystery than why Marvel featured their greatest WWII baddie in this tale and didn't allow him to don his trademark headgear!?! Guess Fury wasn't the ONLY one who wasn't properly outfitted this time around, eh?...