Hitting the stands in 1963, Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos came about (as Stan Lee often tells it) as a result of a bet with the Marvel publisher that Kirby and he could make a blockbuster in any genre, even the unpopular war titles. To make the bet sweeter Lee said he would do it with the worst title he could come up with. Thus the first issue featured the first comic book appearance of Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, and the rest of the Howlers. With its premiere, the character of Izzey Cohen became the first Jewish comic book hero and Dean Martin gained comic book immortality of a sort as there is no argument that Dino Maneli is modeled after the actor/singer. Also noteworthy is the inclusion of Gabe Jones, a historical anachronism as integration was still a war away for the U.S. Army, but a strong statement of racial harmony by the creative team. The inclusion of Jones brought vocal criticism from the still segregated South of the 1960's.
  The title won best 'Mundane Fiction' prize at the 1963 Alley Awards, given to comic books by the Alter-Ego magazine and won best Miscellaneous Fiction the next two years before settling down as the winner of best War Title consecutively until 1969.

The first seven issues, as typical of early Marvel titles, featured the blockbuster team of Lee and Kirby, shifting the art chores to the inker, Dick Ayers with issue #9. Ayers would distinguish himself as the longest running artist to work on a Nick Fury title and served as penciler with only brief interruption until its final original issue.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1: " Seven Against the Nazis!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
Letters: Artie Simek

  • First appearence for all Nick Fury and all the cast, including Captain Sawyer.
  • Inker Dick Ayers would later become a regular penciler on the title
  • Features Weapons of War pin-up with various pistols of the era and character pin-ups.
  • Published 5 March, 1963 with a May 1963 cover date.
  • Reprinted in: #167 and:
    • Marvel Tales Annual #1
    • Marvel Comic's Fantastic Firsts
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1
  • The dating for this story is tricky, taking place later in the war near D-Day, yet it features Juniper, who died earlier in the war.

The Howlers are ordered to France to rescue a member of the French underground, Pierre LaBrave, who has knowledge of the D-Day invasion. Enroute to Paris, thier plane is attacked and the Howlers parachute near a French town. The Howlers engage Nazis attacking the local French resistance, whose leader then takes the Howlers to the town where LaBrave is being held.

Reviewing this story from the Marvel Masterworks edition, my first thoughts go towards the incredible art by King Kirby. To read Fury and the gang in this first adventure is to see something much different from what one sees in later issues in terms of art. This is Fury as he was originally conceived before the much later slick Steranko makeover that would remain in place, forevermore. The square lines, the prominent brown hair and the howling almost monstrous facial expressions are all a far cry from how Fury is drawn today or even later in the series.

As for the story itself, it roars into action with page after page of daring adventure by the Howlers. The story does a serviceable job of introducing its cast within the story, with only Fury and Dugan standing out in the first few pages. Eventually the rest of the Howlers come into focus during the action. Fury is the very definition of 'tough-as-nails', without seeming like a super-hero. Lee's script establishes the Howler's humorous banter under fire early on, with one-liners shooting back and forth as quickly as the bullets. The plot itself is nothing special, but is pretty much sets up the standard Howler story.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #2: "7 Doomed Men!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Features Weapons of War: Chatter Guns of World War II and The Enemy That Was - German Infantryman pin-ups
  • July 1963 issue, but published 2 May 63.
  • Reprinted in #95, The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1 andSgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1

Following a successful diversionary attack on a German U-Boat camp, an exhausted Howlers are assigned to infiltrate a secret Nazi facility with heavy water.

Careful readers can find minor workings through of the premise by Lee and company, making for an interesting read. Ranging from minor bits like wife jokes instead of his later trademark mother-in-law jokes from Dum Dum to "wa-hoos" punctuating nearly every act, this second issue reads like a rough draft sometimes of what would become the standard Sgt Fury story. Speaking of rough, Kirby's art lends the story an almost ugly quality, not distractingly so, but in a gritty way. Fury for example is miles away from the suave super-spy of the Steranko mold, here looking truly gruff. Also the level of violence is stronger, an uneasy mix with the sense of fun, making Fury looks almost psychotic at times. Characterization is nil and the humor is not always a smooth fit, as in Happy Sam telling Fury what he can do with the heavy water. The suicidal level of the Howlers is stronger in these early issues, with some of the more visually ludicrous situations, including Reb taking on a tank on horseback. This issue, although not classic, is still a keeper.


Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #3 : "Midnight on Massacre Mountain!"
Writer: Stan Lee

Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • Features Weapons of War: America's World War II Shopping List
  • September 1963 issue, published 2 July, 63
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1
    • Special Marvel Edition #5 with a new cover featuring Pinky, despite the fact he's not present in the issue.
  • Dum Dum's first mother-in-law joke!
  • OSS Major Richards was originally intended to be Reed Richards, however Marvel's "sliding time" has now retconned him into Jonathan Richards, Reed's grandfather.

Following a brawl at the local tavern, Happy Sam orders them out to the Italian coast where they meet up with American troops trapped from all sides by enemy soldiers and land mines. Its up to the Howlers to lead them home out of harm's way.

From cover to cover, this issue is absolute gold as Lee, Kirby and company unveil their first true classic in the series. Happy Sam's walk to the prison block to check on his Howlers is actually laugh-out-loud hilarious. Artwise, the rough Kirby art seems to settle down into something more polished and the story shines for it. Some of the panels are almost photographs. The issue reads great with the comradire of the cast of characters finally on display; especially when Fury dispatches them two by two on scouting missions. All of the cast seem to flesh out to individual and distinct personalities.

The guest shot by Reed Richards, now retconned to his grandfather (and likely his great grandfather in years to come) really would have come and gone without an impression if not for the editor's note. Only the appearence of Reed's pipe (a visual mainstay in the early 60s) gives any hint to the future leader of the FF. .

Fury's intution about both the traitor in thier midsts and Richard's bright future acts as an evolution of the character from one that relies on brawn and luck to a leader who uses his brain as well. Compare Fury's use of instincts and strategy here to the almost deus-ex-machina of the rocks falling in a V-shape from the first issue. Even the pin ups at issue's end are great; who knew a military mule cost $190!

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #4: "Lord Ha-Ha's Last Laugh"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • First appearance of Lady Pamela Hawley
  • The final appearance of Junior Juniper
  • Features Weapons of War: Combat Rifles of World War II pin-up
  • Fury made his first "modern" appearance in Fantastic Four #21, the same month this issue was published.
  • November 1963 issue, published 3 Sept 63
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt.Fury Annual #1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1

The Howlers are called in by Lord Hawley to extract his son, Percy from Berlin. Hawley believes his son is the infamous Nazi propagandist Lord Ha Ha, who was acting as a reporter for the Hawley newspaper when Hitler took power. Arriving behind enemy lines, Fury and the boys learn Percy is a Nazi collaborator, complicating the mission emotionally for Fury since he has fallen for Percy's sister, Pamela.

A classic issue for the landmark events of both the first appearance of Fury's wartime love, and the death of Howler Junior Juniper. Kirby's pencils are beautifully complemented by Bell's inks bringing to life one of Stan Lee's best stories in any comic title. The build-up to the end is fast and furious and one almost believes it when Dum Dum says, "Its curtains for all of us! But at least were goin like Howlers!

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #5 "At The Mercy Of Baron Strucker" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • First appearance of Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker
  • Appearance by Pam Hawley
  • Features last Weapons pin-up until #14; Light Machine Guns of World War II
  • Wolverine Origins #19 indicates that Fury had studied intellegence on Von Strucker before they met.
  • The 2009 Sgt. Fury oneshot features Von Strucker's first encounter with Fury and the Howling Commandos
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt. Fury Annual #1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1

Enter Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker, who is assigned the task of defeating the Howling Commandos. Von Strucker decides to goad Fury into one-on-one combat and sends him a message to offer the challenge. Defying Captain Sawyer's orders, Fury heads off to the rendezvous for the showdown where he is defeated on film by the Baron.

Nick Fury meets his nemesis for life in this issue; the first appearance of Baron Von Strucker. If anyone need understand why the two men are so driven to destroy each, one needs only to read this story. Despite the comic-book hijinks, the readers gets a peek at the psychology of both Fury and the Baron; especially daring for Fury in showcasing some of his greatest flaws, which continue to plague the character today. Art wise the issue is excellent with Kirby's renderings of Von Strucker as the one to beat. A must have.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #6 "The Fangs Of The Fox!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Appearance by Gen. Erwin Rommel and Pam Hawley
  • Gabe Jones' blood type is 'AB'
  • A prior encounter with Rommel is tol nearly at the end of the series run in issue #118
  • Reprinted in
    • Sgt. Fury Annual #5
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1
    • Marvel Visionaries: Jack Kirby

The Howlers are assigned the task of putting an end to the long string of success by the 'Desert Fox', Gen. Rommel. Fury puts his men through a rigorous series of training and exercise prior to the mission to prepare them, but Dino is seriously injured during their parachuting run, forcing him out of the mission and Fury to choose a replacement. The Howlers welcome Stonewall, who acts prejudicial towards Izzey, Dino and especially Gabe. Fury lays down the law with Stonewall, letting him know that he has no tolerance for bigots on his squad. Soon the team is in Tubrok where they raid Rommel's camp.

Lee and company take on the prejudice head on through the character of Stonewall with moments that help spotlight Izzey and Gabe. Despite the historical inaccuracy of the integration, this issue above all sell the idea of a multiracial commando combat unit in WWII. Fury's introductions to Stonewall works well in showcasing the obvious affection and respect Fury has for his men behind all the insults and tough talk. Lee effectively uses the real-life facts of Rommel to his advantage adding a neat twist at the end.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #7 "The Court-Martial of Sgt. Fury!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Artie Simek

  • First appearence of Bull McGiviney and Red Hargrove.
  • Appearance by Pam Hawley and her father.
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt. Fury Annual #5
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1
  • Presented at the Words & Pictures Museum of Fine Sequential Art as a tribute to Jack Kirby from April 6 to May 7, 1994.

Mopping up their last mission in France, The Howlers learn they stay in the French countryside and are ordered to meet with an old school mate of Fury's, Lt. Spencer Parker (known to Fury as 'Skinny' Parker) who shares no good will for Fury. At the moment of attack on a Nazi camp, Fury tries to stop Parker from giving the order to start and knocks him out. Fury is knoecked out by a blast and wakes up back in London under military arrest. Sawyer gets Fury a defense lawyer and the trial begins, despte the fact that Fury is having trouble remembering what happened.

Just as its the case with any long running military themed tv show, Fury has his 'courtroom' issue. As difficult as it might seem for a comic book to have a trial issue, Lee and company pull it off effectively with everything from amnesia for Fury to a first appearance for Bull McGiveny. Lee strikes a master funny stroke with the introduction of Bull and the Maulers and the aftermath in the trial. Most interesting about this issue are the glimpses into Fury's life before the war and how we see both sides to him, the rough brawler via Parker's testimony and the patriarchal side through Chaplain Hargrove's testimony.


Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #8  "The Death Ray Of Dr. Zemo!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Sam Rosen 
  • First appearance of Percival 'Pinky' Pinkerton
  • Appearance by Baron Helmut Zemo
  • The letters column, 'Tell It To Fury' premieres in this issue
  • A flashback of this adventure features in the 1994's Captain America:The Medusa Effect, stating this took place in 1942
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • Special Marvel Edition #6
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

A replacement for the late Junior Juniper, the Howlers add Englishman Percy 'Pinky' Pinkerton to the ranks for a mission against Baron Zemo and his castle, which holds a death-ray weapon that threatens to end the Allies.

Notable story for introducing both Pinkerton to the Howlers, and featuring future Captain America arch-foe Baron Zemo, otherwise a pretty standard story. A nice intro is made for Pinky with plenty of allusion to David Niven (ala Guns of Navarone). Gabe gets some nice attention and once again Lee goes to great lengths to work in his horn as a useful prop. All in all, not bad.

Worth mentioning, as this is his first appearance, is the issue of Pinkerton being gay. Following the release of the Marvel MAX series of Rawhide Kid, Stan Lee began making the assertion in interviews (on NPR for example) that he meant for Pinkerton to be gay. An interview with Dick Ayers however contests that story; Ayers states that it was his idea to make Juniper's replacement English with an umbrella and Lee's idea to pattern him after David Niven. Suffice to say, aside from Fury, Dino, and Dum Dum (who was married), none of the Howlers seemed to have much time for a love life anyways. Years later in the introduction to the first volume of the Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks, Stan Lee states that a member of the Howlers "might" be gay.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #9 "Mission: Capture Adolf Hitler!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • First issue to feature a Dick Ayers cover.
  • The first issue in the title's regular monthly run.
  • Appearance by Pam Hawley, Baron Von Strucker and Hitler.
  • Sports an ad for Marvel Tales Annual #1, which features a reprint of Sgt. Fury #1.
  • Reprinted in:
    • Special Marvel Edition #7
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1.
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

The Howlers are called upon to kidnap Adolf Hitler. Behind enemy lines, the Howlers sans Fury and Izzey are arrested by Von Strucker thus complicating matters.

Hitler and Von Strucker prove a dangerous double bill of evil for the Howlers in Berlin. Fury and the Baron match wits again, however something is lacking plot wise and its essentially an under whelming story. No story of the WWII vein is as cliche as that of the Hitler clone, and Lee's variation is nothing spectacular. The art is strong as always and there's a nice bit between Pinky and Lady Hawley.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #10 "On To Okinawa!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Sam Rosen
Cover artist: Jack Kirby
  • First appearance of the Skipper, later known as Savage; who later headlines his own war title, Capt. Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders.
  • Appearance by Pam Hawley.
  • Reprinted in:
    • Special Marvel Edition #8
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1.
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

Happy Sam tells Fury that his old friend Colonel Phil 'Pillbox' Parker is a POW on Okinawa, and the sergeant enlists the Howlers for a special rescue mission in the Pacific, After near-misses with the Japanese in the air and in the sea, the Howlers make landfall and free the officer and take a Japanese destroyer with them.

Fast and fun tale is notable for a couple of firsts, namely the premiere appearance of the Skipper, later to be known as Captain Savage. As the title promises, the Howlers make their first foray into the Pacific, making for some interesting adjustments to their standard methods. Izzey takes center stage as he's passed off for a Japanese soldier (courtesy of a Hollywood-style make up kit Dino apparently drags around on him everywhere), and Fury turns down the first of many offers for a battlefield commission.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #11 "The Crackdown Of Capt. Flint!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Sam Rosen
Cover artist: Jack Kirby

  • Appearance by Bull McGiviney
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt. Fury Annual #2,
    • Special Marvel Edition #9
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

By-the-book Captain Flint takes over for two weeks at the Able Company Camp while 'Happy' Sam meets with the top brass on how to create more commando units like the Howlers. Flint mops up the Howler's 'dirty' methods and then takes lead on a mission to Normandy.

Next to the actual enemy, the next best foil for any GI grunt is the standard 'by-the-book' commanding officer, and Captain Flint follows in that grand tradition. Lee pens some great moments as McGiveney gets some back at Fury and the Howlers are actually forced to wear Army-issue uniforms. Further comic mayhem ensues as the Howlers are lead into actual combat by Flint. Among the combat action, Pinkerton's bumbershoot antics reach new heights.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #12 "When A Howler Turns Traitor!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers (Kirby cover)
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Sam Rosen

Cover artist: Jack Kirby

  • Features a Sgt. Fury pin-up
  • Reprinted in:
    • Special Marvel Edition #10
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

Enjoying some time off, the Howlers are in a local pub when a V-1 strikes thier part of London. After helping to clean up the rubble, the Howlers return to base and are tasked with a mission to find the V1 launch base. Unable to find the launch site and under heavy fire, Fury orders Dino to desert and lern the location of the launch site. Dino crosses over to the other side, but the rest of the Howlers don't know Dino is only pretending and Fury is captured.

A year into the title and Lee is still having fun with the writing. A great bit comes when Gabe is asked where he managed to find transport in the middle of nowhere, to which he responds, "We found an autoshow room and financed it through G.M.A.C!". The issue makes good use of living in London during that time, with the V1 rockets blitzing overhead and the propaganda radio enticing soliders of Italian and German decent to cross over. The issue has enough story to pack two issues, and Lee just as much admits it in the next to last panel. The story is pretty standard stuff until Dino defects and Fury is captured. The element of Fury using Dino in this way makes for an interesting character moment, especially in light of how Fury would develop later.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #13 "Fighting Side-By-Side With Captain America & Bucky!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
Letters: Artie Simek

  • First comic book teaming of Captain America and Nick Fury and the Howlers.
  • Appearance by Pam Hawley and Bull McGiveney
  • A different first meeting of Captain American and the Howlers was seen in Marvel.com's Far Flung in the Far East.
  • Final issue penciled by Jack Kirby
  • Reprinted in:
    • Special Marvel Edition #11
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.1
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

The Howlers bail out a private from a bar brawl with Bull, the private being Steve Rogers..aka Captain America. Later Fury and the gang are called in across the channel to help Captain America stop the Nazi's from constructing a tunnel under the English Channel.

Stan Lee predicts the Chunnel by a few decades in a classic tale that teams Marvel's two greatest war heroes. Equal parts a Cap tale and a Howlers tale, in light of modern day team-ups, this story remains one of the best Nick Fury/Captain America adventures. This is a MUST have.

It seems a missed opportunity that Captain America did not do more guest shots in this series, especially since Fury is considered an important supporting character in most Captain America runs. However when Stan Lee reunites Nick Fury and Captain America in Tales of Suspense #78, Fury speaks to "the time we tackled the Nazis together", implying just this one adventure. This odd bit of continuity seemed to hold through into the early 1980s when Captain America
#273 shows Eric Koenig meeting Cap for the first time, meaning the Howlers did not meet up with Captain America for at least the last two years of the war. For whatever reason Lee decided to narrow his story options with these characters during WWII, subsequent writers have ignored that and gone on to pair the Howlers with Cap and Bucky. Most notably 2001's The Otherworld War and Captain America (3) #32 feature the Howling Commandos fighting alongside each other, both taking place in the late stages of the war (the latter featuring a flashback to the Battle of the Bulge), but interestingly enough not featuring Eric Koenig.

However the first to break with the previous continuity of just one Howler/Cap adventure was Stan Lee himself, in Far Flung in the Far East, an online animated series that featured as part of Marvel's Excelsior Theatre. This story in fact purported to be the first time Captain America had met Nick Fury, completely contradicting this issue!

Back