Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #33-35
Issue(s): Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #33, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #34, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #35
Nick Fury was not on the Helicarrier when it was taken over, so it's up to him to try to rescue the SHIELD crew, or else a failsafe will destroy the Helicarrier in 24 hours. Henry Gyrich refuses to give him any support due to bad history between them. While they are arguing, Mad Dog contacts them and threatens to kill Dum Dum Dugan if Fury won't give him the codes necessary to access certain files on the Helicarrier.
As Fury coolly watched while Dum Dum was being tortured, i couldn't help think of the much later retcon that reveals that Dum Dum has been an LMD since early in the Silver Age. But it turns out that this Dum Dum really is an LMD.
"Well, i didn't know you were bluffing, exactly, but it didn't really matter."
You may be wondering why Fury isn't getting any support from the usual cast of SHIELD agents that have been a part of the book from the beginning (Alexander Pierce, Kate Neville, Network Nina, etc.). If they were on the Helicarrier, you'd think that would be noted explicitly. Well, i said last issue, which was Scott Lobdell's first, that it had a kind of fill-in quality in part because it didn't feature any of the regular SHIELD cast , but that actually seems to be part of the new direction on the book. We will be seeing a lot of new directions over the next year on this title. You can see based on the sales numbers towards on the bottom of this entry why that was necessary. But it will give us whiplash as we go forward.
For now, the new status quo, and the reason Alexander Pierce and friends are not around, is because Nick Fury is getting a new group to hang out with: G.W. Bridge and the SHIELD Super-Agents.
They're a little roughed up from a Misunderstanding Fight/power-demonstration scene that i'm skipping over, but the guy is Knockabout, and he's super-strong and invulnerable. The dark haired woman is Psi-Borg, a Latverian cyborg with (obviously) psi powers. And the blond woman is Violence, who actually has no powers but is, well, violent. G.W. Bridge will stick around for this story but i assume wasn't meant to be a permanent part of the cast. Although as i said, the book will keep changing direction, so it's hard to know what was really intended. I actually think having Bridge remain a part of the cast could have helped this book immensely, saleswise. Adding a team of super-powered sidekicks with names like Psi-Borg, on the other hand... well, i'll remind everyone that this isn't the first group of SHIELD Super-Agents - the original group is where Quasar came from - and much later the Secret Warriors will have some success. So it's not entirely out of bounds for SHIELD to have a super-powered contingent, and i can see why bringing the Nick Fury book more into the mainstream super-hero genre might have seemed like a good idea. But the characters are uninspired and poorly introduced. They're a dud from the start. And maybe it's selfish of me, but if this book was going to exist i would want it to have a unique identity focused more on spy stuff and international intrigue, not yet another super-team, even if that did mean lower sales. Again, judging by the upcoming changes in direction i suspect the audience at the time agreed with me.
Since i already spoiled the big Angar the Screamer reveal, let me also note that Ivory, who i introduced with the villains, will join the Super-Agents by the end of this story. And they actually give that away on the cover of the first issue, and that's actually the only place in issue #33 where she's named. I also find it bewildering that G.W. Bridge does not appear at all on the covers of this story. Say what you will about X-Force, it was selling more than this book by an order of magnitude. I was always interested in G.W. Bridge being a member of SHIELD since he kind of came out of nowhere, and i would have been interested in seeing his relationship with the core SHIELD group being explored in realtime, but i had no idea he was appearing in the SHIELD book. Promoting his appearance here would have seemed less crass to me than the Wolverine appearances circa issue #27.
Anyway, Fury, Bridge, and the Super-Agents decide to raid a Hydra base so that they can get the equipment they need to locate the cloaked Helicarrier.
They run into Baron Strucker.
This should be a pretty big deal since Fury was not yet aware that Strucker is back from the dead. But just like raiding a Hydra base on their way to a more important mission is no big deal, Fury barely reacts to seeing Strucker. That may be because Strucker is appearing as a hologram, but it still seems off.
Strucker: Hey, Nick, I'm alive.
The SHIELD team get what they want from the Hydra base and then go to the Helicarrier. The way they get there is pretty awesome, i have to admit.
Meanwhile, tensions are high among the villains. They're worried about disappointing their mysterious employers. Overrider is not able to circumvent the security surrounding the SHIELD files. The not-yet-revealed Angar tortures Mad Dog for getting out of line.
Then the Super-Agents show up.
The villains' employers turn out to be Roxxon. This is pretty ambitious for them.
Psi-Borg and Smoke Scream seem to share an origin, but don't worry about that because Smoke Scream will never appear again.
Best moment of the fight:
(That's Angar the Screamer's psychedelic powers at work, obviously).
Something weird going on with the art in the final panel below. Is Dum Dum Dugan's head growing straight out of Angar's arm?
Ivory, who so far hasn't done a damn thing in this story except look upset while Dum Dum was getting tortured, switches sides and knocks out Angar.
Dum Dum sponsors her for membership in the Super-Agents. And Fury says that's up to him. Because the other Super-Agents have been riding him about his age this whole story, so at the end, Nick Fury resigns.
We'll learn that he's just resigning as SHIELD's director. It seems the idea was to get him back to just being an agent of SHIELD, maybe to get him away from the bureaucracy of running it. Not that Fury has ever exactly been out of the action in these issues.
D.G. Chichester and even Bob Harras brought a level of plotting to this book that at least had a veneer of sophistication. Complex plotting. In my opinion, sometimes too complex, and i didn't feel like this book ever really found its footing. But what Scott Lobdell is doing here is a real dumbing down of the book. It definitively makes it more accessible. A big super-fight, and i'm always happy to see a collection of some existing villains. I'm less happy about the large amount of barely developed new villains and heroes. And it's probably for the best that 1992 me didn't pick this up for the G.W. Bridge appearance because, like, what even happened to him in this story? So these issues are just a big dumb fight, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's not that good either, and between that change in tone and the characters with silly names being introduced, my overall impression is, "Yeah, no.".
Artwise, there are a lot of letters lamenting the loss of Butch Guice and the very terrible Ernie Stiner that replaced him. M.C. Wyman is the new replacement. He's at least competent, but he's not exactly selling the big dumb fights or the new characters, and he'll be off the book soon enough.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 45,660. Single issue closest to filing date = 50,535.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Nick Fury steps down as the head of SHIELD this issue, turning things over to Dum Dum Dugan. But he remains an agent of SHIELD. The MCP keeps Nick Fury out of other books for a long string ending with issue #44, and i will probably do the same. But theoretically Fury could appear elsewhere as long as he's not identified as the head of SHIELD. Regarding the Baron von Strucker hologram, the MCP does not list him as a character appearing, even behind-the-scenes. I would have guessed that he was remotely controlling the hologram, but there's no way to know for sure, so i'll follow the MCP.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAngar the Screamer, Dum Dum Dugan LMD, G.W. Bridge, Henry Peter Gyrich, Ivory, Knockabout, Mad Dog (Buzz Baxter), Nick Fury, Overrider, Psi-Borg, Violence
FNORD - when you write -"Is Dum Dum Dugan's head growing straight out of Angar's arm?"
Posted by: clyde | February 11, 2016 12:45 PM
Ah, MC Wyman. As unimpressive as his art is, he really has a knack for consistently being attached to the detritus that never warrants mention. Poor guy.
Posted by: AF | February 11, 2016 6:36 PM
Regarding Nick's appearances in other titles, the problem is that in many of them even if he's not explicitly stated to be the head of SHIELD, he's clearly in a position of authority over all SHIELD agents present.
Posted by: Michael | February 11, 2016 8:44 PM
The Dugan LMD situation sure reminds me of Captain America #227.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 11, 2016 10:31 PM
@Michael, there are some appearances, like the card game in Wolverine #53, where Fury could just be an agent and not the head of SHIELD. I also think that Fury remains in a position of authority even when he's not the director. But generally i agree and i'll be trying to keep all of his other appearances out of the period where he's not director.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 12, 2016 10:54 AM
I would like to rescind my comment on MC Wyman's "unimpressive" art. While most of his work for Marvel fit that bill, having spent some time looking at a lot of his commission work online (which seems to be all he really does now), it turns out he's actually pretty good.
I'm guessing he hadn't honed his craft yet when Marvel got him and put him on failing ongoings or he was really uninterested in these terrible books Marvel continually put him on.
Would've much rather have had him take over art chores on Quasar rather than that book getting lumbered with REALLY bad art. I only say this coz I'm strongly considering getting MC Wyman to do me a Quasar piece...
Posted by: AF | April 13, 2016 5:51 PM
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