With the departure of Jack Kirby from interior duties (he continued to provide some covers), Dick Ayers began his long run on the title, together with Stan Lee. Lee continued to pen the title till issue #28. One of the biggest landmark issues during this run being #19, featuring the death of Pam Hawley, one of the most powerful stories published in the title.

The remainder of Lee's tenure included return appearances by Von Strucker and the Blitz Squad, conforming the title to the typical Marvel formula. Also the character of Hans Rooten seemed to be a variation of the young sidekick featured in other titles of the time.

Lee also took opportunity to focus on the Howlers cast, showcasing Reb's family in issue #24, Percival's background prior to joining the Howlers in issue #23, and in issue #26 spotlighting Dum Dum Dugan. However another milestone issue can be found in #27 wherein readers finally learn of how Nick Fury lost his eye, matching with the character's modern-day appearance in Strange Tales as Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #14 "The Blitzkrieg Squad Of Baron Strucker!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: George Bell
Letters: Artie Simek
Cover artist: Jack Kirby

  • First appearance by the Blitzkrieg squad
  • Appearances by Adolf Hitler, Baron Von Strucker and the Skipper
  • Dino turned down a chance to work with Alfred Hitchcock to enlist in the war
  • Weapons of War pin-ups return, this issue; B-26 Martin Marauder
  • Reprinted in:
    • Special Marvel Edition #12
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

Having come closest to defeating Nick Fury, Baron Von Strucker is assigned by Hitler to capture the Howlers at all costs. Von Strucker then lays down the master plan of forming a counter-team to defeat the commandos, the Blitzkrieg Squad. After rigorously training them, a faux V2 rocket installation is built as bait for the Howlers to demolish.

A Lee/Ayers classic as the Howlers meet their match in Von Strucker's Blitzkrieg Squad. Everything in the issue soars with top-quality. Lee's tight script builds up the anticipated battle perfectly with patented Howlers wit and plenty of moments that flesh out the cast (including a nice bit where Gabe and Dino quiz each other on why each gave up their home front careers). Von Strucker is also given plenty of attention, allowing him to rise above the stock Nazi villains commonly used. The art by Ayers and inker Geo Roussos is perfect, especially the panel shots of Von Strucker. I know I said this about the last one.....but this also is a MUST HAVE!

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #15 "Too Small To Fight, Too Young To Die!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers (Kirby/Ayers cover)
Inks: Steve Ditko
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • First appearance of war orphan Hans Rooten and Agent X
  • Only issue to feature work by Steve Ditko
  • Reprinted in:
    • Special Marvel Edition #13
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

The Howlers parachute into Holland where they are tasked with demolishing a network of dikes to prevent a Nazi invasion of England. The Howlers are saved by a young boy, Hans Rooten, whose father is a known Nazi sympathazier. Not able to make contact with the mysterious Agent X, the Howlers try to fight a spot on their from which to explode the dikes.

The scene where Dino is recognized by swooning Dutch teens proves why Stan was the man. The dialouge is great, especially in the poker scene, although Lee repeats alot of the plot needlesly from page to page (its not like its that complex). The introduction of Hans is well done and as a character he is not annoying, which it could easily have been. The detail of Izzey being worried about flooding Dutch farmland is a welcome nod to reality and its details like this that maintain the quality of the stories.


Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #16 "A Fortress In The Desert Stands!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers (Kirby cover)
Inks: Frank Ray
Letters: Artie Simek
  • Appearence by 'Happy' Sam and Hans Rooten
  • Dino starred in a French Foreign Legion movie with Errol Flynn
  • Reprinted in
    • Special Marvel Edition #14
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

A desperate radio signal from a secret agent in German-controlled Africa sends the Howlers into the desert to learn the latest about a new Nazi weapon.

Interesting story with great art (check out the panel where the Nazi commander shoots back at Fury on page 19) and amusing sidelines in the story. Lee mines Dino for more humor as he is imprisoned by Bedoins for inciting romantic swooning in their women. The adventure is made realistic with Dugan captured and Reb left wounded and feverish. The cover is one of the best of the series.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #17 "While The Jungle Sleeps!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers (Kirby cover)
Inks: Vince Colletta
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Appearance by , 'Happy' Sam, Hans Rooten and Pam Hawley
  • The Howlers are awarded oak leaf clusters pins for bravery
  • Reprinted in:
    • War is Hell #7
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

On their way from the last mission against the Nazi V2 rocket facility in the desert fortress, the Howlers are ambushed by German planes. The Howlers down the planes and call headquarters for a pick-up. Instead they recieve new order, search for a missing team that was lost in the nearby jungle.

Following on from the last story, the Howlers go from jungle to desert (unconvincingly) and find a clever way to save a wayward platoon of American soliders. The story is average and the shift from sand to brush comes off as too geographically simplified. The story's use of Gabe as a witch doctor is admitedly clever, but this story is not too exciting. Pinkerton's arrivial with his bumbershot is funny though.


Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #18"Killed In Action!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers (Kirby cover)
Inks: Chic Stone
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Appearance by Lady Pamela Hawley and Bull McGiveny.
  • Features the death of Pamela Hawley.
  • The cover for this issue features as the cover for Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt Fury #121
    • Sgt. Fury Annual #6
    • War is Hell #8
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

The Howlers are assigned to put the kaput on a German raider anchored at a Norwegian seaport, but all Fury can think about is his yearning to propose to Lady Hawley. Upon returning from the harrowing mission Fury learns that she was killed during a day-light blitz on London

Powerful story-telling sends Fury on the first of many emotionally charged episodes in his life. The death of Hawley is sadly poignant and well done and is frequently hilighted as one of the finest issues of not only this series but among the entire canon of Stan Lee/Dick Ayers. The Nick Fury seen here, brimming with insecurities coupled with a hope for the future is one that is rarely seen again. One could almost explain the increased cocksure self confidence of Fury as a SHIELD agent with his various women as barrier to the Fury glimpsed here. As for the story itself, its the plot is action filled, but appropriately not over the top and the plotting is very tight and focused. The fight between Fury and the German for the ring as they both descend deeper into the ocean is picture perfect thanks to the talents of the art team. The issue's final act, showing the Howler's and Happy Sam's inability to tell Fury what has happened is especially sad as is the final scene, perhaps the only time the reader will ever see true pain and anguish in the face of Nick Fury.

Certainly a bold storytelling move, the Death of Pamela Hawley can be seen as the dry run for many an ill-fated SIlver Age romances in the Marvel Universe. Hawley's impact as a character was never greater then in her death, a death that hung over the Nick Fury character for the rest of the run, ranging from her German nurse doppelganger to the various mentions here and there by subsequent writers such as Friedrich and Thomas. Moving into the SHIELD stories and the present day, the emphasis on a string of lady loves for Fury (Laura Brown, the Countessa) deminished the memory of Hawley, and Fury's angst regarding the war seemed concentrated more on the death of his fellow soldiers. However it is recommended for anyone who admires this issue to read the 1994 Marvel Holiday Special, the story "Downtime" by Howard Chaykin.

Need I say this issue is ESSENTIAL for all Nick Fury fans .

Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos #19  "An Eye for an Eye" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers (Kirby cover)
Inks: Frank Ray
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • Appearance by Hans Rooten and his father, Agent X
  • Fury carries a slug in his left arm that remains with him the rest of his life.
  • Hawley is buried outside of London
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt. Fury Annual #6
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

Fury learns the raid that killed Pamely Hawley is but one of many on hospitals by General Von Krummpt of the Luftewaffe. Driven by revenge, Fury goes behind enemy lines to seek the general out.

Fury's dark side has never been more evident then here, foreshadowing the revenge driven actions that readers would see in Nick Fury Vs SHIELD, and the later issues of volume 2 of Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD. The plotting is tight with Fury using all his resources to the ascertain who and how in order to extract his revenge. Kudos to the art team who illustrate some unique and exciting locations such as the planning room at headquarters. The return of Mayor Rooten is a welcome bit of continuity, as is Fury's experience with wing walking for the finale on the plane. The only letdown is the villain himself, Von Krummpt, who lacks the substance of Von Strucker. The final coda at the cemetery is perfect. A MUST have for all Fury fans.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #20 "The Blitz Squad Strikes!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers (Kirby cover)
Inks: Frank Ray
Letters: Sam Rosen
  • Appearances by Von Strucker and the Blitz squad.
  • Nick Fury premieres in Strange Tales this month
  • Reprinted in
    • Sgt. Fury #122
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

Baron Von Strucker and his Blitz squad attempt to break out Nazi pilots held at a Scottish prison. Sgt Fury and the Howlers jaunt over for a rematch.

Howlers Vs Blitzers: Round 2; and its better then before. Stan Lee as always piles on the fisticuff zingers, like Pinky wishing David Niven would play him in a movie and Dum Dum having the rug pulled out from under him, literally, remarking they don't do that, "even in movie serials!" The effect of Pam's death still hangs over Fury, especially when he nearly goes over the line in a one-on-one with Von Strucker. The rest of the Blitzers fade into the background, proving the one crucial flaw in these comics, the overabundance of supporting characters; although Lee wisely focuses on Dum Dum and Siegfreid.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #21 "To Free A Hostage!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Carl Hubbell
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Appearance by Bull McGiveny
  • Reprinted in
    • Sgt. Fury #80 and #123
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

Following an explosives malfunction on the battlefield, 'Happy' Sam and Fury pay the leading Allied munitions expert a visit and learn that he is leaving because his family is being held by the Nazis. No sooner then you can yell 'Waa-Hoo', the Howlers are behind enemy lines freeing the munitions expert's family.

A rather lackluster issue with nothing really exciting or exceptional to recommend. Another rescue mission behind enemy lines, Dino and Fury play SS Officers again, and Bull and the Howlers get into another brawl. You've read it all before and often times better then this. The art is fine as always but with all the great stories never reprinted its a shame such this one is out there three times..

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #22 "Don't Turn Your Back On Bull McGiveny!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Carl Hubbell
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Appearances by Bull McGiveny, Von Strucker and the Blitz squad.
  • First cover appearence for Bull McGiveny
  • Cameos by Stan Lee and Dick Ayers.
  • Reprinted in:
    • Sgt. Fury #124
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

Following their daily brawl at the camp, Fury and McGiveny report to Captain Sawyer for their latest mission; Operation Tidal Wave. Arriving at their destination, the Howlers team up up to deal a blow against the series of Nazi gun emplacements.

Could be the most action-packed issue of the entire run, starting off with a typical brawl between Fury and McGiveny, followed by a accidental fisticuff between the Howlers and Maulers, and if that's not enough Von Strucker and the Blitzers join in at the end. Plenty of action in between as the Howlers and Maulers accomplish their individual mission, san their commanders, who are trading insults while escaping from the enemy. Lee packs in the comedy, even throwing in a one panel cameo by himself and a young Dick Ayers. If you're a Maulers fan, this is a real keeper.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #23 "The Man Who Failed!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Frank Ray
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Pinkerton's background is revealed, including an older brother in charge of the Burma Dragons.
  • Its been three years since Pinkerton has seen his family.
  • Reprinted in :
    • Sgt. Fury #125.
    • Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.2
    • The Essential Sgt. Fury v.1

In Burma, the Howlers are charged with escorting a nun and a group of war orphans from the hands of the local Japanese armies. Things take a personal turn for Pinkerton as the Howlers come into close proximity of a British commando unit with a family connection.

The spotlight shines on good ole Pinky as we learn of his early days, his reasons for joining the Howlers and plenty of bumbershoot action as well. The Japanese villains are nothing spectacular, although their fixation on the nun gives them a brutal edge. A minor quibble, Dino's line about not having to do retakes in a real war borders on insensitive in my opinion, but I guess its just typical Howler banter. Fun interaction between the kids and the Howlers and certainly a touch of rare realism with Fury worrying about running out of ammo. A must-have for Pinkerton fans.

Sgt. Fury & his Howling Commandos #24 "When The Howlers Hit The Home Front!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Frank Ray
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • Appearances by Dino's Hollywood friends, including Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny and Groucho Marx
  • Appearances by Izzey, Gabe and Reb's family, but no sign of Dum Dum's infamous mother-in-law
  • Final appearance of Hans Rooten, who is adopted by Reb's parents
  • First stateside adventure for the Howlers
  • Reprinted in #82 and #126 and Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.3

The Howlers earn a 2-week furlough back to the States, but find trouble when Bundists take Reb and his parents hostage at their estate.

Fun story with a good blend of action and comedy. Glimpses into Howler home-lives include a visit to Gabe's old jazz club, Izzey's Flatbush garage shop, and Dino's Hollywood buddies asking the team for autographs. The story shifts gears into action at Reb's estate cleverly hinging on the historical footnote of the Nazi movement within the United States. Little Hans gets a home (wonder what ever happened to him!) and Dum Dum faces his mother-in-law at the hospital. Good fun. 

 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #25 "Every Man My Enemy!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: John Tartaglione
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • First and only appearance by the Red Skull
  • Appearance by Bull McGiviney
  • A rare issue sans any appearance by Dum Dum.
  • Reprinted in #85 and #127 and Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.3

The issue opens with the Howlers returning from the USA where Dum Dum has been left behind in a hospital. They are called to see Sam Sawyer, who announces that while they were gone, a spy infiltrated the base. Since the six Howlers were absent, they have been assigned to find the spy. Also, Fury is given a special mission to deliver an important packet to the French underground. He is to meet with three freedom fighters who will transport him across the Channel. However, it turns that Sam Sawyer is not who he seems to be. The Third Reich spy had him captured and hidden and took his place.....and the Red Skull is the spy. He has sent Fury away in order to destroy the Howlers' base, and he will do so disguised as Fury, setting up explosives to be detonated by remote control from his base (a gun tower his men took over and hid Sawyer in).

Fury arrives at the rendezvous point and is taken onto a boat....but notices that his contacts speak without a trace of a French accent. Elsewhere, the Skull (in the guise of Nick Fury) encounters Dino Manelli, and acts strangely brusque with him. Manelli realizes that an imposter has replaced the real Fury. Elsewhere, Fury gets into a battle with and escapes the ersatz underground agents, and begins to swim towards shore. The Red Skull (in Fury disguise) continues his mission to prepare for the destruction of the Howler's base, and having completed his work, heads towards the docks to make good his escape. A group of military police see him skulking around the docks, and begin to chase him.

The real Nick Fury arrives just as the Red Skull makes a turn around a sand dune. In the darkness, the Skull manages to knock Fury out. The MP's arrest Fury for his suspicious behavior. Seeing Reb Ralston nearby, Fury mutters "Three aces beat three kings, remember?"-a winning hand in one of Fury's last card games with Ralston. So Ralston knows this is the real Fury.

Meanwhile, the Red Skull has resumed Sam Sawyer's identity. Accusing Fury of being the spy, he orders him placed in the stockade. However, the Howlers cold cock the MP's and free Fury.

Elsewhere, the Red Skull changes from the guise of Sawyer to that of a master sergeant. However, Fury, not recognizing the master sergeant, realizes it is the Red Skull. The Howlers pursue the Skull to a gun tower his men had taken over and hidden Sawyer in. Fury and the Howlers catch up with the Skull and tie him to a raft. Inside the gun tower, they manage to defeat the Skull's men and free Sawyer, as well as prevent the long-range detonation of the explosives the Skull set to destroy the Howlers' base.

Solid issue features what must be the most unique appearances by the Red Skull, one where he's never seen at all. An idea that only Stan Lee could come up with, the story also features some interesting moments, including Bull McGiviney finally getting his chance at knocking down Fury and Dino muttering one of the best Howler lines of all, "Sure Fury yells at us allot, but never without reason" The Skull's plan is actually quite good, besting any attempt by regular foes like Von Strucker or Klaue. The confusion over who is the real Fury is fun to read today in light of the LMDs that would show up later in Fury's SHIELD adventures. This is one issue worth going out to find, especially for the fantastic cover.

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #26 "Dum Dum Does It The Hard Way!"
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: Carl Hubbell
Letters: Artie Simek

  • Rare solo focus on Dum Dum Dugan
  • Appearance by Skipper Savage
  • Reprinted in #87 and #128 and Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.3

The Howlers learn that Dum Dum is a prisoner of the Sea Shark after his plane went down in the ocean, and they mount a rescue. Meanwhile, onboard the Sea Shark, Dum Dum leads the imprisoned Allied seamen onboard on a daring mission to destroy the Nazi battleship.

Making up for his absence is the last issue, the spotlight is on Dugan as he proves yet again that he's one of the most underrated Marvel supporting players. The story is not quite A+ material but its fun and serves as a good showcase for Dum Dum. The main heavy (literally) is one of the better ones and of course the water-based setting makes for another welcome appearance of the Skipper. 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #27 "Fury Fights Alone!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: John Tartaglione
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • Fury injures his eye following an explosion, which would eventually lead to his using an eye patch
  • An alternate explanation for Fury losing his eye is offered in the Fury 1993 one shot
  • First appearance of Eric Koenig
  • Reprinted in #89 and #129 and Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.3

On a mission to destroy a new Nazi weapon, Fury sustains a serious eye injury and is separated from the Howlers. Trapped behind enemy lines he comes face to face with Goering and others from the Luftewaffe, but is saved by a disgruntled orderly, Eric Koenig, who has become fed up with his German masters.

Fast paced adventure delivers the goods as it stands out as a highlight issue with its backstory on Fury's eye injury and the introduction of future Howler Eric Koenig. Although left unclear how the beam weapon works, the super weapon poses a good plot point for the first act, although the design doesn't make it look anything more then a red search light. The introduction of Goering is consistent with the title's historical guest stars, but the idea of him drinking at a local pub like that is stretching. The art is topnotch as always and Lee proves he's still not quite bored with Fury, with only one more issue to go for him, it shows that Stan Lee wanted to be the author of his particular chapter in Fury's life. 

Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #28 "Not A Man Shall Remain Alive!" 
Writer: Stan Lee
Pencils: Dick Ayers
Inks: John Tartaglione
Letters: Sam Rosen

  • Reprinted in #91, #130, Sgt. Fury Annual #7 and Sgt. Fury Marvel Masterworks v.3
  • Appearances by Von Strucker and Adolf Hitler.
  • Von Strucker refers to the events of this issue in the paperback novel The Avengers and the Thunderbolts by Pierce Askegren.

Von Strucker is made commander of the French city of Chebeux and no sooner Fury and the Howlers are dispatched to ensure his hold on the city doesn't remain very strong. The Howlers join up with the local resistance to sabotage Nazi encampments and stop a train carrying townspeople to concentration camps. The repeated attacks by the Howlers prompts Hitler to offer Von Strucker one more chance, destroy the city or face death.

MIlestone issue not so much for the Howlers as for Von Strucker, the last time Lee would write the character (in his last issue on the series). Although previous issues had only hinted at a greater complexity of the character, here we finally see Lee lay bare the warrior psyche of Von Strucker. In a surprise to those only familiar with his modern-day appearances, here we see a Von Strucker doubtful of his insane leader and with a serious distaste for the oppression he must impose upon the townspeople, much preferring to engage other soldiers in real combat. His act of warning the citizens of their impending doom and even his act of sending them to a concentration camp instead of executing them in the streets (which one at first might take for concession to the codes and standards of the time) showcases a much more human villain, although a villain nonetheless.

Von Strucker aside, the issue holds up pretty well for the Howlers as well with effective teaming of future SHIELD agents Dum Dum and Gabe, Izzy with Dino and Fury with the rest. But in the end, odd as it may be to say, this is Von Strucker' issue.