The Small Lebowski:
Strange Tales #135 (Nick Fury)
Issue(s): Strange Tales #135 (Nick Fury story only)
It's clear from the name (e.g., Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and the gadgetry shown here that this series was hoping to capitalize on the spy craze resulting from the James Bond movies.
The story not only introduces SHIELD, but also many of its familiar elements, including LMDs...
...and flying cars.
As an aside, i'm not a huge James Bond buff, but that scene with the car shooting missiles up at a helicopter reminds me of a similar scene from 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me. Granted the Bond films were based on novels, but it really does show the strength of comic books as a medium at the time that Marvel could have a scene like that a good decade before the movies.
The story also introduces SHIELD's main threat, the world conquering organization known as Hydra. Hydra is shown to be devoted with such fanatics that they seem to be able to recruit a massive horde of loyal troops despite a rule that says if you screw up once you have to fight your successor to the death.
The victor in that struggle is Agent H, the first female to rise so high in the ranks. She'll turn out to be Laura Brown, a recurring character and also the daughter of this iteration of Hydra's leader.
Tony Stark is also involved with SHIELD.
Nick Fury is originally not comfortable with the idea of leading such a group...
...but after handling a bombing attempt with ease and falling into the natural role of barking out orders, Stark is able to convince Fury that he needs to take the job.
This issue is mostly set-up, but it's a great vehicle for Kirby's imagination and establishes a fun super-spy premise.
There's plenty of wackiness, too, like this opening scene where Fury is being measured for his LMD and told "Don't even breath", but go ahead and smoke that cigar.
The name that SHIELD is an acronym isn't spelled out in this story, but as Chris Durnell once pointed out, the name SHIELD is based on NATO prototype SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) and NATO's command center SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe). The derived name and the fact that Nick Fury recognizes "some of the most famous Joes from every nation in the world" establishes that SHIELD is an international organization.
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos was still running strong at this point, so Marvel was publishing two separate Nick Fury series from two different time periods at the same time.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places Tony Stark's appearance here between Tales of Suspense #64-65 and before Avenger #15. The way i have things laid out actually has this issue taking place before some earlier Human Torch issues of Strange Tales, but there's no reason that things couldn't have happened in this order, and in any event the continuous run of stories on the Dr. Strange side makes any kind of direct correlation to publication date impossible.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos annual #2
Inbound References (6): show
The "Spy Who Loved Me" film shares only the name with the Ian Fleming novel; everything else was cooked up for the film. As for what's in the novel...uh...don't ask.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 18, 2012 7:47 PM
Not to be confused with the novel based on the film. A same phenomena occurred with Moonraker, which aslo received a novel based on the film despite there already being a novel before the film... Strange isn't it?
Okay, if I'm getting sidetracked from Marvel then how about this... The character Clive Reston of Shang-Chi fame was supposed to be James Bond's son! Also grandson of Sherlock Holmes. Guess him and Shang-Chi being together is kinda funny, with him being son of Fu Manchu and all...
Characters from Conan are also pretty intergrated into the marvel universe. You probably know some of this already, I know you already know about Micronauts, ROM and Godzilla being involved...
Posted by: Max_Spider | November 19, 2012 1:16 PM
And Death's Head... Jeez, you haven't even gotten to the insane outsource history that is Death's Head yet. Came from the Transformers universe and was dumped into the marvel universe after an encounter with the Doctor (of Doctor Who fame).
But I guess you'd just use the same policy you'd use for any character originating from Exiles or Age of Apocalypse, like you've already come accross Dark Beast, when it comes to that. So... I guess there was no real point in me even bringing this up, yes?
I'll just slink off now...
Posted by: Max_Spider | November 19, 2012 1:25 PM
It seems like it was the default state to include licensed materials in the Marvel Universe. For dud licenses (ROM, Team America, Shogun Warriors?) it probably helped with sales. It seems like Marvel was even toying with the Transformers being included in the MU in their early issues.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 19, 2012 1:30 PM
Cross-commented with you. ;-) But yeah, a character like Death's Head (and also Circuit Breaker) will be treated the same way as Dark Beast.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 19, 2012 1:32 PM
Marvel was lucky DC wasn't paying attention to their comics too much; in 1964 Batman fought an evil spy organizaton called Hydra in his own book.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 30, 2013 5:54 PM
Since I was commenting earlier today on the Strange Tales #150-168 entry, musing as to how exactly the events of the early S.H.I.E.L.D. tales were altered via the retcons in Original Sin, it's probably a good idea to look back on this, the first appearance of the organization.
In the last couple of years Marvel has been establishing that S.H.I.E.L.D. has actually been around for decades, since at least the 1960s, and Nick Fury was its director for much of that time. That would place his recruitment by the organization long before era of the modern Marvel universe which, with its sliding timeline, only has about 13 to 15 years having passed since the Fantastic Four made their debut.
Anyone here know if the events of Strange Tales #135 have been re-told from a post "Original Sin" perspective yet? I could see this story playing out more or less the same if Tony Stark was replaced with his father Howard Stark.
I wonder how Marvel would the work around the pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. appearance of Fury in Fantastic Four #21. Maybe they could use time travel to explain it. Or maybe they're just not going to even bother addressing it. After all, I don't think there's ever been a specific in-story retcon of Fury and Reed Richards knowing each other from World War II, and instead it's just merely been quietly ignored.
Anyway, I do wonder how many of the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. stories from Strange Tales are now considered by Marvel to have taken place before FF #1.
Then again, maybe I just shouldn't think about it all that much. As they sing in the opening sequence of Mystery Science Theater 30000, "Just repeat to yourself: It's just a show, I should really just relax" :)
But I *am* curious to read fnord's thoughts on the topic, since he's devoted so much time & energy to this interesting chronology project.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 12, 2016 6:53 PM
As i said in another response, i won't be thinking about it too hard until i get to Original Sin, but i've found a few things that would need to be addressed (in part by looking at the Inbound References on this entry):
In Avengers #19, Hydra talks about Fury's switch from the CIA to Hydra as if it was a recent thing. "Ever since he left the CIA to take over the leadership of SHIELD, our mission has been to destroy him. But so far, Hydra has been unable to find his new secret headquarters. That's why we've been spying on his old office -- hoping for a lead." I suppose that doesn't specifically imply something that happened recently ("Ever since he left the CIA [several decades ago!]...").
In Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #3, Nick Fury refers to Stark as "one of the guys that hired me to lead SHIELD". I guess maybe we could say that young Tony helped his father pick Fury, but that seems silly.
Also, in Strange Tales #138, Tony Stark regrets not being able to access his attache case with his armor when Hydra attacks. So he can't be Howard. So if there must be a cut off where some Strange Tales issues took place in the distant past, it has to be before #138.
There are probably a lot of other little lines that i wouldn't have thought to track (since Original Sin wasn't out yet) that contradict the idea that Fury had been head of SHIELD for so long. So hopefully there's another way to reconcile things.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 14, 2016 8:24 AM
In that case, fnord, the LMD retcon is a moot point for now, since you have about two decades worth of Marvel comics to cover before you reach Original Sin. But thanks for sharing your preliminary thoughts on it.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 14, 2016 1:10 PM
First off I am a James Bond fan as well as liking the Avengers TV show, the Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, the Wild Wild West etc. so I loved this series. It has been stated somewhere that S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded in 1955 to combat Hydra and that Nick was replacing the original director (name of whom is classified) who had been assassinated by Hydra. Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division was what the acronym originally stood for but it has been changed a couple of times over the years. I loved Kirby's visuals on this series and I love that he is being credited on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 31, 2016 8:40 PM
In THE SPY WHO LOVED ME the car also goes underwater and gets attacked by frogmen. There's a sequence like that in #137. It may be these comics were the inspiration.
For that matter, the menace in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER - an orbiting space laser - is like the one in CAPTAIN AMERICA #100.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | March 2, 2017 4:44 AM
I'm not a big reader of the pulps, but apparently, the Shadow fought an evil organization called The Hydra. (And of course, Doc Savage had a Fortress of Solitude, and fought in a place called The Red Skull.)
Posted by: Andrew | November 12, 2017 6:33 PM
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