Characters Appearing: Al Mackenzie, Alexander Goodwin Pierce, Contessa Valentina Allegro De La Fontaine, Gabriel Jones, Kate Neville, Leviathan (Coven), Network Nina, Nick Fury
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #7-8
Issue(s): Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #7, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #8
Despite being basically a nobody, he provides enough of a challenge for the newly reformed SHIELD organization that he gets a four part "Chaos Serpent" storyline at a time when most other Marvel books were involved in Acts of Vengeance. This arc is by D.G. Chichester. Letters published in issue #8 reacting to the previous arc by Bob Harras praise the Pollard/DeMulder art combination but lambast the plotline, and it's promised that there will be no more aliens in this book (which will turn out to not be quite true). So that's why we have a very down to Earth super-spy story here.
We begin with the formal reinstatement of SHIELD. This happens at the United Nations building, and it's made clear that SHIELD is an international organization, run by Nick Fury with no strings attached except that he reports directly to the UN Security Council (and yet, according to what's said, without their interference). SHIELD used to have the word "international" built right into their name, but the acronym is now repurposed to mean Strategy Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate.
"Soon" after that (see the Considerations section), Nick Fury and his current core team of Pierce, Neville, and Mackenzie are flying to an army base in the desert when they are nearly run over by a stealth bomber (which is what they were invited to the base to inspect). When they make it to the base, it turns out that the bomber was in the air to avoid its capture by Coven, which had just attacked the base. It's an airforce base, so the troops and technicians there were unable to defend themselves against Coven's first attack, and there are therefore a lot of casualties.
It turns out that an administrator at the base, a Mr. Bremer, is secretly a Coven loyalist. He arranges for Fury and company to be sequestered in a room. Note Alexander Goodwin Pierce's Jasper Sitwell impression; there is a lot of that going on in these issues.
Coven attacks the base again while they are sequestered, which is why they are breaking out.
Leviathan manages to get in the stealth bomber, but Nick Fury has an action sequence he wants to try out.
That's a cool sequence but it takes a lot of space. In fact it's stuff like that that makes these issues feel very sparse on plot.
By the way, Fury was able to perform that little sequence thanks to "adamantium plated boots".
Issue #7 ends with a comment that Leviathan's attack didn't make a lot of sense, the idea being that the stealth bomber is such a high profile item that he'd have to know it was well protected. A point which would have been stronger if Nick Fury didn't have to jump through the moving plane's windshield to prevent it from being stolen. Anyway, that leads to speculation, quickly dismissed, that he may have wanted to be caught. Which is indeed the case. In issue #8 he's been brought to the Vault, where he's interrogated by a CIA agent. Al Mackenzie is also there, and quickly realizes that Leviathan is manipulating the CIA agent.
Leviathan, who allowed himself to get arrested so that he could peruse CIA files, is then taken by a Guardsman back to his cell. But for some reason he's allowed to keep his lollipop, and he uses it to jam up the Guardsman's eye slots and then knock out the Guardsman and take his suit. A footnote confirms that this takes place prior to Avengers Spotlight #29, when the new Guardsmen armor's power source kept the suits confined to the Vault.
So this is the inferior Stane armor, but it's still pretty sad to get taken out by a lollipop.
SHIELD, meanwhile, have trailed Mr. Bremmer onto a plane. Bremmer turns out to have a suit of his own.
After a failed attempt by Network Nina to subdue him...
...Bremmer and Nick Fury go out the plane door together. Bremmer didn't count on Fury having a jetpack.
Fury says the ocean will break Bremmer's fall. The hope was that Bremmer would lead them to Leviathan but that's not happening now.
We then see the CIA playing politics, hoping to see SHIELD fail against Leviathan because they see SHIELD as rivals. And then Leviathan gets into the helmet that i mentioned earlier, and uses it to start intimidating US army officials.
That is the big plan: to enthrall high level army officials using a combination of threats to their family and pseudo-religious mumbo jumbo.
The final scene for these issues is Nick Fury catching up with Gabriel Jones, who has retired and is now running a paintball field.
Nick asks him to become a trainer for SHIELD agents instead.
It's all kind of pedestrian and even the Pollard/DeMulder art isn't looking that great. The plot relies very heavily on Leviathan being able to predict the behaviors of people to a supernatural degree (e.g. that he wouldn't escape with the bomber, that the CIA would bring all its important files into the interrogation room, and that he'd be allowed to keep the lollipop), despite him not having any kind of super abilities. Which i guess is fine for a James Bond style super-spy character, but he doesn't seem like he should be such a major threat worthy of a four issue "event" style storyline. That's probably the fundamental challenge of a SHIELD book; you don't want them fighting super-villains and every story can't be going up against AIM or Hydra, but that leaves most antagonists looking pretty mundane.
Anyway, more to come with the next two issues.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #7 opens with SHIELD officially getting reinstated and getting the new name. The MCP have that opening taking place earlier than the rest of the issue, with Rick Mason, the Agent, Punisher #29, and Damage Control #3-4 taking place after that opening but before the main story begins. I've done things a little bit differently. I have Rick Mason taking place prior to this arc; Fury says in that issue that he's "busy reorganizing SHIELD". I see that as possibly taking place prior to the official reinstatement of SHIELD, or, if you like, after it's reinstated but before the main story here, as the MCP does. But in Punisher #29, Nick Fury says SHIELD has their hands full fighting an international crime wave (which is a bit vague, but it's with a footnote to "current issues" of SHIELD, which would be these). So if we assume that this is the international crime wave he's talking about, this should take place after the main story in issue #7 begins. And that would affect the Damage Control issues as well, since the Punisher issue and the Damage Control issues are both parts of Acts of Vengeance, with the Damage Control issues taking place later than the Punisher. These issues also must take place before Avengers Spotlight #29, at the end of Acts of Vengeance. Issues #7-10 of this series are all part of the Chaos Serpent storyline, but there is a definite gap between issues #8-9. So i am placing issues #7-8 after Rick Mason but before Punisher and Damage Control (which means #7-8 takes place during Acts of Vengeance), and then issues #8-10 taking place later.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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