The Small Lebowski:
Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection
Issue(s): Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection
I often complain that the graphic novel line was wasted on less than stellar talent, but even though i'm not personally a huge Howard Chaykin fan, there's no doubt that he's a top name and someone who you didn't often see on the regular books. And Archie Goodwin is a quality writer and a good pairing for him.
After opening with a scene showing someone exterminate a SHIELD camp in Peru and leave a Scorpio calling card (or disk)...
...we see a scene designed to tell us that Nick Fury is getting old.
Chaykin drew the issue that introduced the Infinity Formula that has kept Nick Fury alive since World War II, but i guess the idea is that even with that he still ages and is starting to feel it.
Compounding the age issue, Nick Fury finds that the younger SHIELD agents don't even know the significance of Scorpio, and all of the agents who were around at the time have retired (which is hard to buy considering the sliding timescale, unless we assume Dum Dum is exaggerating when he says that). But of course this is a matter that Fury will want to investigate personally.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Wolverine also had a connection with one of the SHIELD agents that was killed, David Nanjiwarra. Nanjiwarra was an aboriginal Australian working for the Australian intelligence in Wolverine's days with Canadian intelligence. Nanjiwarra saved his life while on a mission. But Nanjiwarra was running into racism in Australian intelligence, so Wolverine suggested that he join "a new new outfit, an international one" that "ought to avoid that kinda thing". And that's how Nanjiwarra wound up at SHIELD.
Wolverine finds out that Nanjiwarra was killed while the X-Men are dealing with the latest attack from Arcade.
Arcade heard chatter that SHIELD knew that Wolverine would want to get involved, and they were hoping to keep it from him, but Arcade is happy to share.
While Wolverine investigates the site where Nanjiwarra and the other SHIELD agents were killed, and finds that the killer was working for a terrorist group called Swift Sword, Scorpio attacks a SHIELD base in Venice, and Fury is there to see him first hand and confirm that it's not his brother, the original Scorpio.
The new Scorpio instead claims to be Jake Fury's son, Mikel.
Mikel's mother is Amber D'Alexis, originally a criminal that used a casino to launder funds for illicit activities (which gives Chaykin an opportunity to draw some black & white Casablanca style scenes, although Fury has an eyepatch at this point).
Fury knew that D'Alexis was a criminal, but D'Alexis managed to get Jake, who at the time was working at an important biophysics company called Dimension Research, to fall in love with her. Fury breaking the news to Jake is what caused the rift in their relationship. But we also see that Nick and Amber had a tryst during this period, later said to be so that Fury could pump D'Alexis for information before she was arrested.
So yeah, Nick had an affair with his brother's girlfriend.
Wolverine encounters Scorpio next, and nearly gets killed by him.
He's rescued by Nick Fury, who was undercover. Wolverine's attack blew Fury's infiltration plans. Note that Mikel's Zodiac Key is a simulation of the original.
And the next time Nick Fury and Wolverine encounter Scorpio, it comes out that Mikel is really Nick's son, not Jake's.
In addition to Nick's old age, another theme running through this story is Fury's guilt over the rift with his brother that ended with his brother becoming Scorpio and then committing suicide. This makes him unable to go full force against Mikel. Of course, Wolverine has no such compunction.
The conclusion has D'Alexis revealing that she doesn't have any feelings for her son Mikel and was just using him like a weapon.
She says if that makes her a bitch, then Nick is the bastard that made her that way.
Wolverine ends up getting her, although it's left open that it might have been an accident.
Fury manages to prevent Wolverine from killing Mikel and takes him into custody with the intention of deprogramming him and reconnecting with his son.
The reason Wolverine was able to be talked out of killing Mikel is because it comes out (rather conveniently at the end) that David Nanjiwarra was actually working with the Swift Sword terrorist group because it turns out that even at SHIELD he found himself facing racism.
This issue is "adult" in some superficial ways, like the use of the word "bitch" and Wolverine's on-panel gutting of D'Alexis. But it's also intelligently adult in how it deals with Fury coming to grips with his aging (even though, of course, he really won't be aging any further) and his guilt over his brother's death and how that affects the way he deals with Mikel. Other comics have dealt with paralyzing guilt before, of course, but you could imagine the Bill Mantlo / Sal Buscema version of this with like total frozen horror with a big wide-mouthed close up and it all just being way over the top. This deals with it more realistically, has Fury talking with Wolverine about it in a natural way, and just generally feels like we're having some character examination without getting hit over the head with it.
Beyond that, if you like Chaykin's stylized art, it's a good spy story (through the Marvel universe super-hero filter, of course, which means costumes!). There's no doubt Chaykin can tell a story and has a good flow.
Considering she's the only major female character in the story, the "bitch" Amber D'Alexis is somewhat problematic. The bitch line is actually meant to give her some depth, to make her seem not just purely evil. But she is still ultimately one dimensional.
Speaking of women in the book, i'm not sure if the agent hitting on Val in this shot from the gym scene at the beginning is supposed to be a guy or a gal.
And what's with flower covered butt? Just what is going on in this gym?
Worth noting that Nick Fury says that the X-Men's status is "dubious", but Fury is able to get Wolverine to work with SHIELD, in costume.
(I have a friend who would very much dislike what he'd call apologizing for super-heroes wearing costumes in that scene above.)
It's also said that Wolverine and Fury have a history together going back to Wolverine's Canadian intelligence days.
At least based on the date of placement (see the Considerations section), this is the earliest we've heard of that.
Finally, let's just revel in the return of the SHIELD glide suits.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: This has to take place after Dazzler #38, since she's wearing her new costume. But Colossus also appears on the X-Men. Colossus is injured during the Mutant Massacre and doesn't return until Fall of the Mutants and Dazzler joins the X-Men circa Uncanny X-Men #210. So it's not really possible for Dazzler to be on the team with Colossus until the Australia period. As Michael notes in the comments, Wolverine is operation publicly, which means that this probably doesn't take place during the Australian period. That means Dazzler isn't really a member of the team at this point, but maybe stuck with the group after her training session in Dazzler #38. This should take place before Wolverine is injured in Uncanny X-Men #205. Since i've got it following Dazzler #38, it takes place soon after New Mutants #31, which places it between Uncanny X-Men #195-196. I haven't tagged this as a Continuity Insert because i don't believe it was deliberately written to take place in a prior period, though.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showArcade, Colossus, Contessa Valentina Allegro De La Fontaine, Dazzler, Dum Dum Dugan LMD, Miss Locke, Nick Fury, Rogue, Scorpio III (Mikel Fury), Wolverine
Yes, the MCP places this before the Mutant Massacre because there's no spot but the Australian period where Dazzler and Colossus could be appearing together. And we put it before Uncanny 205 because Wolverine is injured that issue and doesn't fully recover until the Massacre. The reason for the continuity glitches is that this book was written over a period of three years. One of the weirdest glitches,as shown in the above scan, is the X-Men's costumes- Colossus is wearing his pre-Mutant Massacre costume and Rogue is wearing her Australian period costume. (Why would they have changed one of the X-Men's costumes but not the other?)
Posted by: Michael | August 22, 2013 7:53 PM
Ahhh... Howard Chaykin. Chaykin's art has some of the same quirks that Walt Simonson's has, yet Simonson's post-THOR work (despite amazing character designs) always looked "flat" to me, like I was looking at a drawing of cardboard cutouts. Somehow Chaykin's art doesn't leave me with that impression. Even though there are similarities. His characters some how have more weight to them.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | August 22, 2013 8:14 PM
That very likely is a guy hitting on Val; short ponytails and earrings were(unfortunately)fashionable for guys back then.
The weird thing is that Mikel is wearing the Scorpio costume from Nick Fury#1, which David Kraft maintained featured an earlier Scorpio that wasn't Jake Fury.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 24, 2013 2:39 PM
In West Coast Avengers 26, Englehart explained that Jake had been Scorpio in both Nick Fury 1 and 5- the Zodiac Key had restored him to life after his first death, and his mind couldn't accept that he been killed, so he believed himself to be the second Scorpio. It makes you wonder though- was that explanation somehow connected to this Graphic Novel?
Posted by: Michael | August 24, 2013 2:51 PM
I just realized- Nick's thoughts in the scans fnord posted contradict the "the Jacob Fury that killed himself was an LMD and Nick knew it" retcon in Secret Warriors.
Posted by: Michael | August 31, 2013 8:31 PM
This graphic novel was first announced around October 1985, which is probably a good clue for placement.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 28, 2013 4:12 PM
Per Chaykin in Comics Interview #75: backgrounds were done by two members of his studio--Corky Lehmkuhl and Nick DuBois.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 28, 2015 12:11 PM
Never a huge can of Chaykin myself, but I am a huge fan of women in thigh-high stockings, so there's that.
Posted by: MindlessOne | May 4, 2017 8:18 PM
That's Chaykin's main thing. There's a garter belt on just about every American Flagg! cover.
Posted by: cullen | May 5, 2017 1:17 AM
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