Characters Appearing: Al Mackenzie, Alexander Goodwin Pierce, Baron Von Strucker, Captain America, Cassandra Romulus, Clay Quartermain, Contessa Valentina Allegro De La Fontaine, Dino Manelli, Dum Dum Dugan LMD, Gabriel Jones, Gaffer (SHIELD Scientist), Gail Runciter, Henry Peter Gyrich, Ivory, Izzy Cohen, Jasper Sitwell, Jimmy Woo, Kate Neville, Knockabout, Laura Brown, Lump (Gnobian), Nick Fury, Percy Pinkerton, Psi-Borg, Red (LMD), Violence
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #42-44
Issue(s): Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #42, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #43, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #44
As part of the changes in past issues, Fury stepped down as Director of SHIELD. That will continue to be the case until the final panel of issue #47, but at the opening of this arc, Fury is saying that his reason for stepping down is different than the "official version".
After practically turning the book over to them at the end of last issue, Fury is now suspicious of the Super-Agents.
The people Fury and the Agents are fighting are part of a group called the Genesis Coalition, which are said to have splintered from Hydra at the same time that Werner von Strucker was found dead in Las Vegas (by publication date at least, the Genesis Coalition had already been appearing in the Silver Sable book, which was also being written by Gregory Wright). Fury is trying to learn from them who is currently running Hydra. The Yellow Claw is one of his suspects. The Genesis people tell him that Werner is running Hydra, but Fury already knows that Werner is dead, and he suspects that the splintering of the Genesis Coalition is related to his death. But the Genesis Coalition say that Werner was already in the process of kicking them out when he died, and that they don't know what happened in Vegas.
After the mission, Fury chews out the Super-Agents for being too violent (again, this is after praising them to the hilts at the end of the last arc). Violence lets slip that she knows things about Clay Quartermain's death that are supposed to be classified.
Meanwhile, Baron Strucker's Hydra is wiping out a rebel contingent of Hydra agents.
These Hydra agents are related to the Genesis Coalition, although they are dressed like actual Hydra agents, unlike the group that we saw Fury fighting. Note also that it was this group that Fury raided to get the transportation needed to retake the Helicarrier in Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD 34.
Fury investigates the possibility that there is a traitor inside SHIELD.
He heads to the remains of the building where Hydra killed the SHIELD recruits, and goes into the basement. And he finds Lump and Red.
But they are on the run from someone. Someone with a giant chin and a grin.
So yeah, in terms of reversals, this is the big one. Basically all the SHIELD agents that we thought died in the Nick Fury vs. SHIELD mini-series are still alive. Just to be clear for people not intensely following all of this, this is not referring to the 1500 agents killed in Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #25. We just happen to be under the building where they died. But all of the SHIELD agents that were seemingly killed during the Deltite incident in the Nick Fury vs. SHIELD mini turn out to have just been in storage. That includes a number of formerly prominent named agents.
Of course, for the moment they've all been brainwashed into thinking they are Hydra agents.
Nick, Red, and Lump are able to knock out all the brainwashed agents.
Meanwhile, Henry Gyrich sends a mysterious someone after Fury. Oh my goodness, who could it be?
Also meanwhile, we get definitive confirmation that the Super-Agents are no good. Psi-Borg manipulated G.W. Bridge to get them into SHIELD.
Ivory overhears them talking, so they kill her. Shuk! Sklutch!
The Super-Agents are arrested off panel and interrogated by Al McKenzie. They don't admit to anything but their manner of responding is enough to make McKenzie suspect that they never had proper SHIELD training, and McKenzie decides to run a check on G.W. Bridge. We already know that Psi-Borg manipulated Bridge, so this seems like a redundant thread.
Nick Fury shows Cap the recovered SHIELD agents, and basically everything about the vs. SHIELD series is called into question, including the idea that the Deltite was running SHIELD from the beginning.
I guess because Fury isn't sure who else he can trust, the Howling Commandos are called in.
But Fury ends up just going out with Captain America. They go to the base where Strucker killed the renegade Hydra agents, and they find a member of Strucker's team that Strucker killed with his deathspore virus as punishment for speaking out of turn. Fury recognizes the virus as the one that killed Strucker way back in the day. Cap raises the possibility that this means that Strucker is back from the dead, but as we've already seen, Fury seems incapable of accepting that.
Fury also finds evidence that G.W. Bridge's name was on a file showing a schematic of the Helicarrier. Again, since we already know that Psi-Borg is bad and that she was manipulating Bridge, it feels like a case of the characters catching up to the reader.
Cap and Fury then encounter more brainwashed SHIELD agents.
They manage to stop them.
Fury then says "alive or dead", Strucker is somehow involved in all of this, and then he tosses a "if you ain't with me, yer against me" at Cap, as if Cap wasn't telling him all along that Strucker was back.
Strucker, meanwhile, has been playing with his Satan Claw...
...and in the end it turns out that Strucker is making sure that Fury is learning all the things he's been learning. And then Strucker is surprised to learn that Hydra was behind the helicarrier hijacking, even Strucker didn't order it.
We've already seen that there are renegade Hydra cells running around (and the Helicarrier schematic that Bridge requisitioned was found at the renegade Hydra cell's base), so this doesn't seem like a huge shock.
We've got three issues to go on this series and we'll get to the rest of the revelations and reversals. But already we see a 180 on the Super-Agents as well as basically a negating of the Nick Fury vs. SHIELD mini-series that was the whole set-up for this ongoing series. I do like some of the connectivity elements that Gregory Wright uses - the references to Werner's death in Dead Man's Hand and the connections to the Genesis Coalition from his Silver Sable series. But the actual story feels disjointed, which is probably because these issues are less a story and more a series of "everything you know is wrong" revelations. I also concede that it's not fair to judge the plot until we get to the conclusion. But with these changes coming on top of so many other changes in direction, it's hard to take it seriously. I wonder if Marvel knew the book was going to be cancelled at this point. It does kind of feel like Wright's job was to wrap things up and get SHIELD back in a classic status quo. If so, Wright is kind of stuck with the dirty work of resurrecting characters and getting rid of the Super-Agents, and i don't envy him.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins "a couple a' months" after Werner von Strucker's death in the Dead Man's Hand crossover. Note that Fury is still not Director of SHIELD. The MCP place a lot of Fury appearances between this arc and the one in #45-47 when he does get restored to the director position.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I love the panels of sad Fury after he jumps out of the helicarrier and happy Fury when he sees his old WWII buds.
Posted by: Wanyas the Self-Proclaimed | March 18, 2016 5:17 PM
According to an interview with penciler John Heebink, initially when Greg Wright took over writing the Nick Fury series, he was told that he would have until issue #50 before it would be canceled. The decision to instead cancel it at issue #47 was apparently very last-minute, and Wright was left to try to cram four issues worth of story into that final issue.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 18, 2016 10:17 PM
"Oh my goodness, who could it be?"
Actually, if it weren't for the "friend" line, I would have guessed it was the USAgent.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 19, 2016 2:45 AM
Well, the white sleeves make it sure we all know it's Cap.
Posted by: AF | March 19, 2016 3:12 AM
Fnord, now that you've posted these scans, I can see what Don Campbell was complaining about in the comments of the Fury one-shot. In this story, Fury is presented as realizing that the Deltite was Hydra's creation for the first time. In the Fury one-shot, Fury is also presented as learning for the first time that the Deltite was Hydra's creation. So how is that possible?
Posted by: Michael | March 19, 2016 1:49 PM
Fury seems almost willfully incapable of believing anything about Strucker. He didn't believe the hologram in issue 34, and he finds Cap's suggestion in these issues that Strucker is back to be preposterous. It's almost like he's under a post-hypnotic suggestion to keep forgetting things that are revealed to him.
To be clear, i agree with you and Don; just trying to "fix" it.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 19, 2016 2:06 PM
If you think these contradictions are bad, just wait until the Secret Warriors series comes around and writer Jonathan Hickman reveals that Fury has actually been letting Strucker run loose for years as part of a long-term plan that Nick and his brother Jake (who was never really Scorpio - that "Jake Fury" was always a malfunctioning LMD!) were carrying out in order to eventually destroy the secret Leviathan organization.
Posted by: Don Campbell | April 9, 2016 12:24 AM
Of course, Hickman's series has a bunch of other problems of its own, like its account of the creation of LMDs utterly contradicting decades of prior stories. Fury doesn't even seem to know quite what LMDs are in the first SHIELD story from Strange Tales #135, and stories klike Iron Man #11 have Tony Stark taking credit for inventing the LMD.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 21, 2016 2:21 PM
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