The Small Lebowski:
Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #1-3,5
Issue(s): Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #1, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #2, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #3, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #5
If the previous stories were James Bond, these are The Prisoner. The first and last issues deal with Scorpio, hinted but never confirmed to be Nick Fury's brother.
In between we get a strange sci-fi tale and a ghost story.
The art is fantastic as Steranko continues to experiment with form and panel layout.
The coloring matches to psychedelic artwork.
Sometimes there are large blocks of text which doesn't work for me but it's interesting to see it appear in a Marvel comic for the first time.
Everything here is so different than what's going on in the Marvel line in general. It is a real shame that Steranko basically disappears from Marvel after these issues. It would have been nice to see him continue on either with Nick Fury or elsewhere.
Issue #2 introduces a character called Centurius.
He's a super-genius working on a space-arc that will preserve Earth's life forms since he believes mankind is about to destroy the planet (of course, launching his arc will also ensure that the Earth will be destroyed, but from his point of view that's just accelerating the inevitable).
I think he's probably Marvel's first black super-villain, for whatever that's worth. Outside of this story, he hasn't had a lot of appearances but he eventually becomes a member of the Thunderbolts.
Issue #2 has Jimmy Woo joining SHIELD after a pretty far-out initiation process.
Nick Fury gets some help from a movie crew filming a giant monster film in issue #2. Some of these characters will appear again in some Ulysses Bloodstone stories.
Scorpio appears in issues #1 and #5. In each issue, his identity is a mystery but it's implied that he's someone that knows Nick Fury, with issue #5 implying that it's Nick's brother (and that's confirmed in a follow-up story in Avengers #72). Then it will be revealed the it's actually an LMD of Jake. All the twists and turns around this get a little confusing, actually.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Skipping issue #4, which was a fill-in by Roy Thomas and not included in the trade paperback.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Nick Fury: Who is Scorpio? TPB
Inbound References (7): show
According to Dave Kraft just before Defenders #50, this Scorpio is not Jake Fury, but some other guy.
The Comics Code made Marvel remove most of Val's cleavage.
The "Hell Hound" issue is largely Steranko's take on the Gothic Romance genre, which comics in general wouldn't take on until the early 1970s, and sporadically(and unsuccessfully) at that.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 8:04 PM
I dont' very like much this story, about the great Nick Fury's brother Jake has he the time to become Scorpio, New Zodiac president and terrorist ? He needn't do where he had unchess on his residence but he finds it very poorly characteristics to his villain he is insane and rumps around humans who doesn't believe him, he wants revenge and domination about Nick Fury
About Cenuturius, it's a presumed humanity savior military and scientist, he likes animals, houses but for humanity don't you think he tried to dominate with dollars he is conservative and patriotic then, to his ranks, the machine that Centurius built are in great ambition but he tricks Fury and Julia by puilting a transformated weapon destined to kill evil, and I asked myself if that poorly or if he tried to be evil by killing evil ( The same exemple from Professor Power )
Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2012 3:52 AM
Some of the art changes demanded by the Comics Code for #2 were done by John Romita.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 30, 2012 7:46 PM
I'd rather look at the art than read the story. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing.
Posted by: JSfan | September 3, 2014 4:10 AM
Never was a huge Nick Fury fan and never bought an issue where he was the primary character. But this is just great, great work by Steranko. One of the few times I would argue for a higher grade, under the theory that people who had no interest in comics would buy this just for the art.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 24, 2015 8:32 AM
Mark, the Scorpio in issue 1 wasn't Jake Fury, but the Scorpio in issue 5 was.
Posted by: Andrew | February 8, 2015 1:26 PM
Hi fnord, do you know which issue Sternako penciled where the reader had to follow a maze to get to page two? He mentions it in a PBS documentary about comics.
Posted by: JSfan | June 6, 2015 4:59 AM
It sounds like Strange Tales #166 (i've put a scan towards the bottom of the entry), but the maze is really more like just decorations around the sides.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 6, 2015 11:35 AM
Wow, thanks fnord, that's exactly the one! The way he described it, it sounded quite amazing but I'd probably need to have the actual book to appreciate it.
Posted by: JSfan | June 6, 2015 12:05 PM
Now you have scans of the same page twice on that page, except one is bigger.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 14, 2015 4:09 AM
Posted by: fnord12 | June 14, 2015 11:08 AM
I don't know if Steranko intended for Scorpio to be Nick Fury's brother. I don't know how accurate this is, but from what I have heard, after Steranko left the book he wouldn't tell anyone who Scorpio really was, so eventually Roy Thomas had him revealed to be Jake Fury in Avengers #72.
Anyone else have any more info on this really old mystery?
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 14, 2015 2:27 PM
Regarding Scorpio's ID:
The Marvel Appendix makes the point that Scorpio (in issue #1) uses the phrase "parable of doom," which had also been spoken by Baron Strucker in one of Steranko's Strange Tales stories. Also, both Strucker and Scorpio were masters of disguise. It's a pretty good hypothesis, considering that Steranko was probably intending to use a character he'd already introduced and there really weren't that many to choose from.
Not sure if Strucker would have been a more or less satisfying identity than Jake Fury turned out to be.
Posted by: Dan H. | September 22, 2015 12:20 PM
It's very unlikely Steranko intended Scorpio to be Jake Fury, not least because Jake had neither been named nor appeared at this point. Jake Fury doesn't turn up with a name or anything until a couple of issues of Sgt. Fury published a year or so after Steranko has left this book.
Interestingly, Steranko keeps setting up Jimmy Woo as a red herring or false suspect for Scorpio; Strange Tales #168 and issue #2 of this title play up the idea that Woo is still angry at Fury because Fury was willing to let "Suwan" die, and issue #5 makes a point of showing us that Woo was supposed to be at the LMD test but didn't show up. I don't think Steranko actually intended Scorpio to be Jimmy Woo; the clues are too obvious, and issue #2 suggests that Woo has gotten over the stuff with Suwan.
But as to Scorpio's true identity? Well, the Casablanca homages in issue #5 -- Pickman is pretty clearly Sydney Greenstreet, and the wartime history between himself, Fury, and Scorpio would fit with Casablanca -- might suggest some sort of analogue to Louis or Laszlo. (Strucker might work as Major Strasser, if it comes to that.) I wonder if Steranko planned to give us a brand-new character or establish someone in Fury's past who could be brought back. But I very strongly doubt that Fury's brother was part of Steranko's concept at all. (Interestingly, Scorpio seems to genuinely believe in astrology in issues #1 and #5. I don't know if that's supposed to be a clue or not.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 25, 2015 3:44 PM
Sternako's psychedelic work here is very reminiscent of Phillipe Druillet's Lone Sloane, which started coming out in 1966.
This isn't to say Steranko ripped him off, of course, since back in the 60s I'm not sure how he'd be able to see French comics not named Asterix or Tintin without actually flying to France.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 25, 2015 6:41 PM
From my admittedly hasty research, it looks like the first Lone Sloane story was published in 1966, but then there's nothing else until 1970. But man, it does have that Steranko vibe.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 25, 2015 10:26 PM
While I was reading Ish #3 I couldn't stop thinking about the Hound of the Baskervilles, a Sherlock Holmes story, and it appears that it really was a homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work!! Only thing is that fitting a 250 pages novel into a 20 pages comic does make it a bit fast and confusing. :)
Posted by: Alan | June 3, 2016 4:14 AM
Bit of a late response to a couple of comments above, but fwiw - Steranko's work on SHIELD was influenced by Italian artist Guido Crepax' series Neutron, which introduced his signature character Valentina (Val's name is an acknowledgement of the debt).
Posted by: sean | August 1, 2016 4:32 PM
I loved these issues and yes the Scorpio stuff got confusing. Steranko's artwork was astounding and I just loved it when it came out. I wish he had continued in the comics.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 13, 2016 10:52 PM
I finally got the "Who Is Scorpio?" trade paperback in the mail yesterday, so I'm looking forward to reading it. I mostly bought it for Scorpio, but I'm interested in the rest of it, too. Something occurred to me regarding Steranko's intentions for Scorpio's true identity:
What if Scorpio was not one person, but an entire organization? I think Scorpio in #1 might have been Baron Strucker, with his "Parable of Doom" mention. After his last defeat, he may have parted ways with Hydra and formed his own group, calling it Scorpio. After tangling with Nick personally in #1, he could have sent a recruit after Nick in #5 as the second Scorpio. And this could have been Jimmy Woo. Strucker could have recruited him and Woo was more than willing because he blamed Fury for the death of Suwan. Then, Woo rejoined SHIELD as a part of an infiltration. If Woo was indeed the second Scorpio, it would explain why he was absent during the LMD test, and it would also be more of a shock to Fury to see Woo's face when he unmasked Scorpio at the end.
Just a thought.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | December 14, 2016 9:18 AM
Woo seems like he's being set up as a red herring. For one thing, why would a guy Steranko wrote as somewhat stereotypically Chinese be thinking about the Western Zodiac and his horoscope in #5? In any case, Scorpio in #5 has thought balloons as well as dialogue indicating he's the same guy seen in #1.
However, "parable of doom" shows up a lot in Steranko's SHIELD. It's also part of the narration in the Centurius story. I suspect we'd have learned that Centurius was backed by Scorpio...whoever he was.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 14, 2016 1:55 PM
I've been wondering recently if Steranko meant Scorpio to be Hans Rooten from SGT. FURY. I've no basis for suggesting this other than he's a character from Fury's past that could've been used in that role.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | December 18, 2016 4:36 AM
Streranko could turn a sack of Lama dung into something visually stimulating. If this guy could have kept one wheel on the rails to stay with a project, there would be a shrine of him on Liberty Island. Issue #1 cover art is one of the most mind grabbing, irrevant chic covers still to date. There will never be another Steranko of combined concept and form
Posted by: Rocknrollguitarplayer | April 13, 2017 12:27 AM
In the S.H.I.E.L.D. by Steranko TPB, the Nick-Val "romantic interlude" is shown in its original form, of course the prudes at the CCA demanded changes (from issue #2). Val's cleavage was axed, other than that the version that went to print was still pretty suggestive. This scene was recreated in UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #7, when the Impossible Man swiped Fury's eye patch for his scavenger hunt.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 27, 2017 11:52 PM
Continuing my previous comment, besides obviously different artwork, the Contessa's hair is down and shorter, and she's wearing an open robe, cleavage intact. Fifteen years sure makes a difference.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 28, 2017 12:03 AM
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