Strange Tales #136-145 (Nick Fury)
Issue(s): Strange Tales #136, Strange Tales #137, Strange Tales #138, Strange Tales #139, Strange Tales #140, Strange Tales #141, Strange Tales #142, Strange Tales #143, Strange Tales #144, Strange Tales #145 (Nick Fury stories only)
The last few issues of Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD reprint these early Silver Age Nick Fury stories from Strange Tales. Maddeningly, they start with issue #136, the second issue of the Nick Fury run, leaving out the story of how Fury is recruited to lead SHIELD. Still, these are some fun super-spy stories with art mainly by Kirby.
Nick Fury leads a large number of Hydra agents to a barber shop SHIELD uses as a front.
The agents are captured by SHIELD, but Fury gripes that it won't matter until the leaders are captured. Meanwhile, the leader that directed the failed attack on SHIELD is killed and replaced.
After getting equipped with the latest in SHIELD gadgetry...
...he heads off with Gabe and Dum Dum in search of Hydra's Betatron bomb. It's nice to see that Fury has recruited some of the Howlers back in action, although it's never really directly mentioned. They're just sort of there.
Hydra launches the bomb. SHIELD retaliates by destroying the Hydra base that launched it but Hydra now has the upper hand. The Imperial Hydra's daughter Laura Brown (Aka 'Agent G'. For 'girl'? She was Agent H when she was introduced last issue, although we didn't know then that she was the Imperial's daughter) gives him a hard time about his megalomania...
The Imperial Hydra is hurt deeply by his daughter's criticism. He's reduced to muttering to his pet cat.
Still, he decides to move forward with his schemes, releases the Hydra "Fox" division to convey Hydra's commands.
Hydra's divisions (never to be seen again outside of these issues, i suspect):
"Giving my various departments the names of living creatures was a master stroke on my part! It furnishes a feeling of identity... a sense of pride to each division!" But where are the regular grunt soldiers that we see every issue?
Fury goes to Tony Stark to get some new weaponry to stop the Betatron bomb. The anti-bomb weapon is called... the Brainosaur. Unfortunately, Hydra's Tiger and Rhino divisions have been stalking Fury and they attack in Stark's lab.
Fury is captured (why was the assassin division sent on a capture mission?), and Stark is not prepared to turn into Iron Man, although he is protected by a personal force shield.
Hydra does not seem to be aware of the Brainosaur.
[In the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #16 reprint, the last 3 pages of #137 and #138 have been swapped, leading to some disjointed reading until you realize what's going on. Also, Gabriel Jones is incorrectly colored as a white guy throughout many of these issues. It's a problem with the reprints, but not a problem in the originals.]
Fury is tortured with an image inducer where he seems to give up the existence of the Brainosaur, but not any details about it. Laura Brown helps Fury escape his prison (along with some exploding coffee (!) and a flammable shirt. Why would you wear a flammable shirt??).
Imperial Hydra won't send the Tiger division against Fury because he doesn't want his daughter to be killed (but... last issue they performed a capture mission), so instead he sends a robot. Meanwhile, SHIELD launches an assault on Hydra. They've located the Hydra base using a Hydra UFO they captured when Fury led the Hydra division into the trap at the barber shop front. Stark disables the Hydra bomb.
Brown, ready to destroy the Hydra base even if it means the death of his own daughter, is instead killed by a pair of Hydra agents. Brown's civilian identity is that of an assistant to the CEO of Imperial Industries International...
...and they that can't believe that the puny secretary could be the Imperial Hydra (he had been wearing padded robes and platform shoes).
Or, if you prefer, they really work for Strucker, although that's not what was intended here. Fury lets Laura Brown escape.
As Fury returns to the SHIELD base, he is zapped by SHIELD's new ESP division.
They're just practicing. Nice way to treat a guy who's been running around the globe, imprisoned, and in a bunch of gunfights in the past few days. Their test wakes up a former agent named Mentallo.
Mentallo, annoyed that SHIELD is trying to replicate his powers with machines, seeks out a partner - the Fixer.
Mentallo and the Fixer are a really cool duo.
They are quite unstoppable to begin with, and while they bicker and constantly try to one-up each other, they don't scheme behind each others backs like most super-villain team-ups. They are eventually defeated, of course, but it's a good first showing.
To wrap things up, a bozo called the Druid attacks SHIELD with his Eggs of Satan.
The Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD series ends before reprinting the conclusion to this story, but i've subsequently picked it up. SHIELD tries to draw out the Druid using Fury LMDs...
...but he doesn't fall for it.
The Fixer confirms that the Druid has nothing to do with the organization that hired him, which he calls "Them".
Fury and SHIELD don't have too much trouble mopping up the Druid.
Jasper Sitwell shows up at SHIELD for the first time during the Druid story.
By issue #145, Fury is so impressed with him he's worried that Sitwell wind up replacing him.
Obviously, this run introduces a lot of concepts core to SHIELD and Hydra, and both the art and story will be largely influential to later creators.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Fury was only recently promoted to Colonel and he and his close associates still find the idea to be a novelty. Takes place concurrently with Tales Of Suspense #75. Tony Stark appears in these issues but there are no references to anything happening in Iron Man.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #16, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #17, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #18 (issue #145 is an original)
Inbound References (10): show
Howard Purcell was a longtime DC artist; he didn't stay at Marvel too long.
Tony Isabella used the Hydra divison chart again during his Dardevil run, but he didn't use animals that time.
Well, guys wore flammable clothing while Disco Dancing in the 1970s a lot...
I wonder why create agent Coulson when they could've used Jasper Sitwell. Great character.
I originally thought the Coulson character in the Iron Movies was Sitwell until they gave him a name. Maybe they already expected to kill him in Avengers and thus wanted a disposable character?
Sitwell actually does appear in the Marvel One Shots promos/easter eggs of the movies. You can find them on YouTube.
I will look for them, Chris. Tahnk you
Some fanzine articles claimed that Sitwell was based on Roy Thomas.
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