Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #12-15
Issue(s): Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #12, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #13, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #14, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #15
Issue #12 is interesting for the weird early Barry Smith art.
Despite Smith's art still looking kind of amateurish, i find it to be a nice change and more in line with the tone established by Steranko than the work Frank Springer had been doing on this series.
The writing is by Steve Parkhouse, who after starting his career at Marvel with this issue and a co-writing credit on a Ka-Zar story in Marvel Super Heroes #19, wrote mainly for British comics. The story begins with Nick Fury already on the run from SHIELD, before flashing back to show how we wound up this way. A Robert Rickard from and unnamed Intelligence agency had come to do a review of SHIELD and determine if a younger man needs to be brought in to replace Nick. Nick stormed out in a huff, and was later accosted by SHIELD troops to arrest him. When he's brought back, Rickard produces photos of Fury meeting with known enemy agents. At that point Nick flees and SHIELD goes on a hunt for him.
It turns out Rickard is really a Hydra agent.
Fury eventually figures out what's going on and tries to contact the general that Rickard was working on, but unfortunately he forgets to use his words and tries to talk to the general with a thought bubble...
...so when Dum Dum Dugan shows up and sees Fury kill Rickard, he has no choice to arrest him for murder.
Next issue (#13) opens with Nick Fury in disguise, watching a rally by the ultra right wing Super-Patriot (the name and basic MO of which we'll see again much later during Mark Gruenwald's Captain America run, but it's ultimately a very different character).
SHIELD is under orders to arrest the Super-Patriot because he's refused to respond to a court order to appear for questioning, so they show up to attack, and Nick Fury ducks into an alley since he's also wanted by them. The Super-Patriot is prepared for SHIELD.
During the SHIELD/Super-Patriot battle, we flash back to after Dum Dum arrested Fury. While being held in prison, Laura Brown visited him and gave him a sonic disintegrator ring which he used to escape.
Super-Patriot manages to get away from SHIELD, and later we see Gabe Jones track Nick down. But instead of trying to arrest him, he gives him some supplies.
We also see a homeless person secretly keeping track of Nick, but that person turns out to be working multiple angles. He first goes to the Super-Patriot to tell him that Fury is still a fugitive and no threat, the opposite of what we saw happen after Nick's encounter with Gabe. This convinces the Super-Patriot to go forward with his plan of attacking the United Nations. Then it turns out that the homeless person is really Jasper Sitwell. But Sitwell tries to arrest Fury.
Fury knocks out Sitwell and catches up with Super-Patriot at the UN.
SHIELD also shows up to attack Super-Patriot and his men, and in the ensuing confusion, the Super-Patriot is tripped by the very flag that he's been wrapping himself in.
When the Super-Patriot is unmasked, he turns out to have Nick Fury's face.
After that, Nick seems to surrender again, because next issue has him being subjected to some super-science psychological tests by a Dr. Kraus at SHIELD.
Kraus determines that Nick Fury's greatest subconscious fear is becoming an ultra-rightist, and it was only in his fantasy that he was the Super-Patriot. It seems to be that all of last issue was really all taking place inside Nick's head.
The rest of the issue (entitled "A Day In The Life", a Beatles reference) shows Nick going about a "normal" day, if normal can include dodging multiple assassination attempts. The attempts are orchestrated by this guy, who is far too awesome to clutter up his goofy pose panel with word balloons.
It's weird to see Nick going about his regular business - meeting with the Gaffer to check out some new technology, taking a nap in his office - while there are repeated attempts to kill him.
Another kind of odd thing is the way Friedrich has been playing up Nick's relationships with both Val and Laura. Both Friedrich and Fury have been using the women practically interchangeably. In this issue, Friedrich introduces another potential love interest; an admin named Agent Huff who only wishes that Nick would think of her as a woman.
Eventually Dum Dum figures out that Dr. Kraus is really an enemy agent that was working with Rickard.
You have to love the way Kraus pulls off his doctor's coat to reveal his Hydra outfit once he's outed.
This clears Nick with SHIELD. But the very end of issue #14 indicates that the Super-Patriot story was not all in Fury's head, or at least Fury doesn't think so.
Our final issue introduces a character called Bulls-Eye, another name (with a slightly different spelling) that we'll see again.
Bulls-Eye is hired by Hydra to assassinate Nick Fury.
Fury, meanwhile, is taking Laura Brown to a Country Joe and the Fish concert.
Friedrich was apparently friends with the band and even brought them to the Marvel office to talk to Stan Lee. Here's the song they're singing.
During the concert, Bulls-Eye shoots Nick in the head.
Hydra then abandons Bulls-Eye (presumably so they don't have to pay him), and Bulls-Eye is killed in a shoot-out with SHIELD.
And that's it for the Nick Fury series. Nick Fury's resurrection, so to speak, will occur in Avengers #72, but that story has nothing to do with any of this, so we'll never get a real answer on the question of Super-Patriot's Nick Fury face or see this branch of Hydra get their comeuppance.
These issues aren't great, but they were sort of settling into their own thing instead of trying to replicate the success of Jim Steranko. The multi-part story with Hydra playing mind games with Fury is a step up from the Hate-Monger issues, and i find Herb Trimpe to be an improvement over Frank Springer. But it's still pretty mediocre and not a shock to see it cancelled.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: In Avengers #66-68, Gabe Jones references Fury being on the run from SHIELD. So that arc is happening at the same time as this. This ends with Fury seemingly dead, and he doesn't resurface until Avengers #72, so no Nick Fury appearances (or at least none where he interacts with anyone that thinks he's dead such as SHIELD or the Avengers) should take place in between.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Masterworks: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD vol. 3
Inbound References (5): showContessa Valentina Allegro De La Fontaine, Dum Dum Dugan LMD, Gabriel Jones, Gaffer (SHIELD Scientist), Jasper Sitwell, Jimmy Woo, Laura Brown, Nick Fury
Sid Greene's presence here is really weird; he was a longtime DC artist and it's strange that Marvel would go to him for what was probably a deadline crunch problem rather than somebody like Vince Colletta.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 13, 2014 4:46 PM
I guess the idea was that Bulls-eye killed Super-Patriot, not Nick but Roy didn't know the details, so he came up with the LMD excuse in Avengers 72?
Posted by: Michael | December 13, 2014 5:24 PM
This Bulls-Eye does have some things that look similar in appearance to the classic one; but I guess he isn't "magic". My own canon: the classic one killed this guy and took his name and elements of his look.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 13, 2014 7:03 PM
I think we can imagine the Nick Fury from 72 was an LMD. this would explain his youthfulness better than an infinity formula. So this is the real Fury's final appearance.(I think this idea was just used for DumDum recently)
Posted by: kveto | December 15, 2014 2:59 PM
Great presentation of those issues, better than the one on my own site in fact! Just shared this link on Facebook, related to the passing of Herb Trimpe.
Posted by: Humberto M. Ferre | April 14, 2015 7:14 PM
Steve Parkhouse confirmed in a letter in Comics Journal #137 that he was an assistant editor at Marvel for a few months in 1968, which probably explains how he got to write here.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 12, 2015 4:56 PM
The splash page to "Hell Hath No Fury" looks like BWS grafted Mr. Fantastic's legs to Nick Fury's torso, exaggerating the trademark Windsor-Smith widestance.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 12, 2017 7:48 PM
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