Cover by Frank Springer and John Romita
Twas the Night before Christmas
Script:Gary Friedrich (plot, dialogue); Frank Springer (plot)
Pencils:Frank Springer; Barry Smith (page 2 except for panel 1, all of page 3, and the first two panels of page 4)
Letters:Artie Simek; Jean Izzo; Morrie Kuramoto (uncredited)
Characters:Nick Fury; Dolly; Harv; Luke; Laura Brown; Jasper Sitwell; Hate-Monger [unknown]
Synopsis:December 24, 1968: Fury heads home, thinking how for some, holidays "can only hold the empty void left by a tragic past". After a mugging attempt in which he sent his attackers packing, Fury arrives at his apartment and is surprised by Laura Brown, who tells him since neither one of them have families she thought it would be a good idea to spend the holiday together. Their celebrations are interrupted by a "condition red" alert. Aboard the Heli-Carrier, Fury finds Sitwell, who was given two days off for the holidays by Tony Stark, and decided to drop by to see if he could be useful. They've intercepted a transmission from The Hate-Monger, who intends to drop a "Germ Bomb" to wipe out the entire population of NYC! Fury takes the "Self-Orbiting Attack Craft" to a huge scientific complex orbiting the Earth. Fury tackles a large number of The Hate-Monger's men single-handed, but is eventually brought down by numbers. On awakening, he finds himself imprisoned inside the capsule containing the "Germ Bomb", as The Hate-Monger explains that once NYC has been wiped out, it will "set all the nations of the world against each other", resulting in a nuclear holocaust that will "purge Earth of all living beings"-- save those in his orbiting colony. One of their aircraft follows the capsule down to make sure things go right, but a mysterious unidentified object zips at incredible speed between them, causing a collision which sets the bomb off prematurely, allowing the germs to dissipate & die in the upper atmosphere! Fury manages to find the ejector button, parachutes to safety, is picked up by the harbor patrol, and makes it home in time to finish off his celebrations with Laura. As the sun comes up, Fury wonders what it was that caused the collision, thinking, "Who knows-- maybe there IS a Santa Claus!"
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