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Top Five Most Iconic Red Skull Covers

Here are my picks for the top five most iconic covers featuring Red Skull (with iconic being determined by what covers are most established and most recognized when it comes to Red Skull, with a preference towards covers that are homaged a lot). This is not a BEST cover list and due to the very nature of icons, very few (if any) recent covers will be on the list. A notable exception to the rules is that I don’t count covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course, just those who appeared on the cover of the comic they debuted in), as those tend to be automatically iconic so they’re boring. Here‘s a list of all characters featured so far.


This is a tough one – the Red Skull has never been the most “cover friendly” character in Marvel history, plus he usually only appears in one comic book. But let’s see what we shall see!


Artist: Gil Kane

The only comic book series to ever star the Red Skull!


Artist: Mike Zeck

A great cover for the 300th issue of Captain America – it really captures the intensity of their rivalry.


Artist: Marie Severin

I hate to have more than one “Skull with the Cosmic Cube” cover, but, well, that’s pretty much what the Skull does all the time! And that’s certainly an iconic Skull pose!


Arist: Alex Schomburg

Schomburg neatly provides the template for basically all of the Red Skull’s Golden Age appearances with this cover (by the by, this was a different Red Skull than the one we all know nowadays).


Artist: Jack Kirby

An iconic cover that goes with what has become THE iconic storyline for the Red Skull.



This isn’t iconic but it sure is awesome. I’d never seen it before.

Also, I like this a bit more than #5 http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/103-15.jpg But that’s partially because I loved the isle of racially diverse goons.

This very recent Red Skull cover may become iconic in the years to come:

Surely there are better Cap-Skull covers available than that hackjob that is #300’s cover.

All the times the Skull has failed to take over the world using the Cosmic Cube, you’d think he’d eventually try something else.

I always liked Andy Kubert’s cover for Captain America 14, but I don’t know if I’d call it iconic. (And then there’s the contents to consider…)

I’m with comicbookreader, I seldom buy a comic based on cover anymore, but that wolverine cover has total classic written all over it. What a powerful image!

1, 3 and 4 I thought of initially, plus Tales of Suspense #90. Love that golden age cover Matt D showed too! Creepy as all hell.

Is it me, or does the Skull tend towards really awful costumes? I’m just not impressed by a green smoking jacket with matching pants.

I tend to prefer the Skull in his formal Nazi uniform, or else the business suit that he commonly used during the late 80s. I also don’t mind the “mad scientist” outfit (usually a gray jumpsuit with a big swastika), but the suit or uniform invokes images of power and control, which is what he’s all about.

Agreed. Red skull mask? Awesome. Green lounge wear? Ruins it.

He looks soooo much better in Nazi regalia:


I always found there to be something kind of bad-ass about a guy so monstrous that he can just hang out in Hugh Hefner’s pajamas and still be totally evil.

That said, even though the story inside was editorially compromised, you can’t deny Andy Kubert’s Skull head-shot from Cap #13 (volume…whatever, 3? The post-heroes-reborn one with Waid) is pretty damn iconic.

The last 3 I’m down for, but I think we can do better than the 1st 2 listed. I even like the Cap’s Weird War Tales cover posted above better than that golden age one, but that’s just me.

Check out this KILLER Andy Kubert cover of Cap v. 3 #14:

I really thought Cap #103 would be in there too:

I’d also have to give honorable mentions to these 2 ASM covers –

ASM #325, by McFarlane:

ASM #366 by Mark Bagley:

Also, I wouldn’t call this an iconic Skull cover, but since it came up in the “Top 5 Magneto Covers” thread: http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/captain-america/367-1.jpg . Why not go for it again, eh?

I totally remember that Captain America’s Weird Tales cover that Matt D posted, and it’s a classic. Definitely one of the first things I think of when I think of the Red Skull.

Numbers 4 and 3 on Brian’s list also leaped to mind when I saw the post title. I agree with Luis that Cap #300 is far from Zeck’s best work, but it really captured the exact nature of the battle going on inside, of two old men beating on each other till they could hardly stand up anymore.

I loved Super-Villain Team-Up as a series, but #5 doesn’t do much for me. As SVTU covers go I’d go for Keith Pollard’s #17 cover instead — but really, make mine Captain America’s Weird Tales #74!

I agree that the Skull looks better in full on Nazi mode, as Matt Bird said. A recent skull cover that I really liked –


and maybe this one too –


Absolutely the right choice for number one. That entire storyline is so emblematic of the relationship between Cap and Skull.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 18, 2009 at 9:49 am

Ther loungewear was always trying for “decadent amusement at the pain and suffering of others,” but never quite works. It’s too intellectual and not sufficiently visceral.

Really, I like the Skull best as a guy in business or other relatively upper-end clothing with his garish mask/mutilated face being the thing that distinguishes him. Less is more in this case.

I have to agree with several of the commenters – Captain America Weird War Tales #74 over Captain America #300 by a long-shot.

The challenge with the Red Skull is that there is really not much there. Jack Kirby created a potentially horrifying visual, but underneath he is a pretty standard Nazi bad guy. There is not much in the way of motivation beyond “he is a Nazi”.

The cosmic cube is a decent McGuffin, since it is a nice metaphor for the Nazi use of science to do evil. However, the Silver Age Marvel never as good as the DC books of that era at repeatable building formulas around those types of devices.

Cover #1 is a slam-dunk. It has some great Kirby art and really sums up what little there is to the Red Skull as a concept.

Cover #2 is pretty iconic as well. Bucky Barnes being off-stage for as long as sort of spared Captain America the Wertham-inspired re-reading of his early adventures. Looking at the imagery here, that might have been a stroke of luck.

Cover #3 repeats that Cosmic Cube theme, but less dynamically.

Nothing about cover #4 or #5 really jump out at me.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 18, 2009 at 10:10 am

There is not much in the way of motivation beyond “he is a Nazi”.

No, the weird part is how few Red Skull stories really have him expressing Nazi ideology rather than generic superhero-book megalomania. When Mark Waid gave the Skull dialogue in which he (without using slurs) expressed racist sentiments, it was absolutely butchered by editorial. Somehow a Nazi villain saying things about “pure blood” and “ethnic trash” — that was about as rough as Waid’s script got — is beyond the pale.

Only a very few stories, like Geoff Johns’s Avengers arc of a few years back or Peter B. Gillis’s story of decades prior, have had the Skull as an ethnic-cleansing monster. But if he’s not that, I’m not sure how “Nazi” he really is. He’s not out to rule the world from Berlin, or perpetrate genocide against specific groups (preferring a more cartoonish omnicidal mania) , or any of that.

Of course, as I’ve pointed out at miserable length in the past, “Nazi” ideology in comics seems to be generic megalomania anyway. Nazis in superhero comics don’t behave much like real Nazis for all sorts of reasons.

Jeff Holland suggests ASM # 366, and I have to wonder what that issue is about. It looks like a straight rehash of the classic Amazing Spider-Man Annual # 5 from 1968: “At Long Last…The Parents of Peter Parker!”.

The Red Skull is inside but not on the cover; his presence is the big surprise partway into the annual.


Of course, as I’ve pointed out at miserable length in the past, “Nazi” ideology in comics seems to be generic megalomania anyway. Nazis in superhero comics don’t behave much like real Nazis for all sorts of reasons.

Well, a lot of Golden Age characters have aspects that would not fly on Saturday Morning Cartoons that I grew up watching. It is a much bigger problem for DC than Marvel, because their core “Trinity” are all pretty watered down. The Dan DiDio Geoff Johns approach of dialing up the violence while keeping the tepid personalities has really dampened my interest in the entire DC line.

However, the failure to define what a Nazi actually believes and construct stories around why that is bad certainly is a problem for the Red Skull. “Nazi” becomes just another word for “Bad Guy”. There is no motivation. The Red Skull is a bad guy because he is Nazi. Nazis are bad guys. Therefore, the Red Skull is a bad guy because he is a bad guy.


Mike Blake: It was from a period where Peter’s parents returned (they soon turned out to be robots – the merits, or lack thereof, can be debated elsewhere). I guess the fact that their back story was so heavily tied to the Red Skull swiftly demanded a guest appearance.

Captain America #74 is pretty cool. I do like Captain America #300, though. That was a great storyline, for my money the best Skull storyline ever. Another option from that storyline would be the Origin of the Red Skull from Captain America #298:


Like Michael P. and pmpknface I was kind of expecting Captain America (volume 3?) #14 to show up. It’s a great Andy Kubert cover.

I’m kind of ashamed to admit though that I kind of liked the issue as printed. Sure it was pretty mish-mashy and the script that showed up online was world’s better, but… I don’t know. I didn’t *hate* it, I guess.

Have a good day.
John Cage

I am absolutely onboard with your number 1 choice. I agree with comicbooksreader, that Wolverine cover is one of the most iconic Red Skull images, despite its newness.

Agree with the choice and the order of all five. And a great series of articles in general Brian. Thanks

Not bad, but I’d go with CAPTAIN AMERICA #103 and #104 over the #4 and #5 choices.


can see why you had so much trouble finding covers of the red skull for marvel really did not have him be the big focus of the captain america issues not to mention most of the time he messed with the cosmic cube and that would be duplicating covers

Great covers, but I’ll agree with my fellow Scott about Captain America #298..terrific story and cover.

I think the Copiel variant cover for ultimate comics avengers should be right up there, its a shame its only a variant : http://i.livescience.com/images/ULTAVG001_cov_villain-02.jpg

Why doesn’t any other supervillian try to get a hold of a cosmic cube?

God, I love that Kirby cover to TOS #80.

I also really like that Bagley ASM cover showing both the GA/SA Skulls (was this is issue where they retconned that the Skull who killed Peter’s parents was the *other* Skull?)

This Invaders cover is one of my favorite Skull images. Love that deeeep perspective:


That Invaders cover is pretty sweet. Another batch of cool Red Skull covers can be seen in the original Captain Britain series, when they inexplicably decided that having Captain America co-star would somehow be exciting for young British readers. Not sure what the logic was there, but anyway, it led to a whole mess of Red Skull covers since the story was weekly. My favorite of the Red Skull covers from that run (and he’s on six or seven of them) is probably this one:


Though I also have a fondness for this one, despite the Skull being less prominent:


And I like how Skull always has a sense of the dramatic; here, he’s decided to face the audience for his monologue rather than worry about the heroes attacking him. You gotta play to the camera, after all:


Is it just me, or does Zeck turn into MacFarlane on that Cap #300 cover?

it’s great. i want to own one.
how can i get one?

The Invaders cover was the first one that sprang into my mind. Thank you J. Kevin Carrier for letting me know it was #5 – I was thinking #4…

But then again, I was much more of an Invaders fan than a Captain America fan… so…

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