Characters Appearing: Al Mackenzie, Alexander Goodwin Pierce, Contessa Valentina Allegro De La Fontaine, Death's Head (Gnobians), Lump (Gnobian), Network Nina, Nick Fury, Red (LMD), Werner Von Strucker, Wilhelm Schmidt
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #3-6
Issue(s): Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #3, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #4, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #5, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #6
It's hard to say exactly why it takes so long for this story to conclude. Everything that one would surmise from issue #2 is confirmed exactly as one would expect. Yes, the Death's Head soldiers are indeed from the same alien species as Lump. Yes, those aliens are the source of SHIELD's LMD technology, and indeed a lot of Hydra and SHIELD's technology. And yes, the aliens were corrupted thanks to an encounter with Baron von Strucker during World War II. We basically got all of that in issue #2, but it's dragged out and explained in detail throughout these four issues.
I guess the reason it takes so long is that it all comes out via living memories from the aliens, which are called Gnobians. The aliens are called "prisoners of memory" and they basically re-live all their past events via "memory tape". So we have extended flashbacks that the cast of this book get to walk through...
...as we see the Gnobians being discovered in Germany by regular townsfolk, Baron Strucker investigating the reports and locating the alien, Strucker killing off the townsfolk to cover up the discovery, the Howling Commandos coming in too late to save the townsfolk but in time to wipe out Strucker's (human) Death's Head soldiers (and just for clarification, those guys were not Strucker's original Blitzkrieg Squad that was introduced in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #14), and then Strucker going back to the alien's underground base and venting his spleen...
...with the Gnobian mother absorbing all that hate into herself. Then, years later, the son of Strucker, Werner, is contacted by the scientist, Wilhelm Schmidt, that the Baron had with him at the time, and Schmidt and the younger Strucker try to make amends with the aliens only to release them into the world instead (Lump is the one Gnobian that Schmidt managed to preserve from Strucker's evil influence)...
...whereupon they began acting on Strucker's "programming".
If this were, like, issue #34 of this series, i could see it as a decent two-parter or something; a legacy threat of Strucker's coming back to life for a brief threat and a little mystery. But at 6 issues it's a bore, and as the opening arc to a new SHIELD series it's not a strong start. It's hardly a compelling reason to get the SHIELD gang back together. I guess the plot allows for Baron Strucker to be used without actually bringing him back (yet)(and by the way, there's a line in here about how maybe the reason SHIELD fell apart was because they didn't have an enemy like Strucker to compete with, which i think is total bunk), but from that perspective it's less compelling than, say, the Red Skull's original Sleeper robots since Strucker's involvement in the current day situation is basically accidental. There is also a vague kind of "What if Superman landed in Nazi Germany?" feel to the story, but it's not really developed since the aliens basically did nothing until recent issues.
And even with all that it would just be a minor dud of a story and no big deal. But the worst of it is the idea that the "Gnobians" are responsible for all of the cool high tech stuff we saw in the early days of SHIELD and Hydra and AIM. At one point it's asked, "Did you never wonder where your advanced wonders came from?". And my response is, well, no. I mean, the whole point of AIM is that they are a conglomeration of evil super-scientists; they've already been diminished over the years and there's no reason to assign their crowning early achievements to aliens. And SHIELD was explicitly supplied by Tony Stark. Plus the technology we were dealing with was to a large degree inspired by the spy genre stories of the time; should we now wonder if James Bond's Q was also building off of alien tech?
In the end, Lump and the ESPer Network Nina are key to reaching to the pure essence that the Mother Gnobian used to be...
...although they're only able to restore her temporarily and she ultimately has to kill herself to stop from reverting to Strucker's influence.
Fury has some doubts about Werner Von Strucker.
In the end, Fury wonders if he hadn't "hid [his] head in the sand", if he could have stopped things sooner. So that's our motivation for him keeping this new limited SHIELD team together.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue opens with Nick Fury trying unsuccessfully to get information from some German skinheads, so it's not a direct continuation of the previous issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Note that Nick thinks of the Gnobians as Dum Dum's "killers". That's weird if Dum Dum was an LMD.
Posted by: Michael | November 4, 2014 9:32 PM
Michael, IMO, the Dum-Dum LMD retcon hadn't happened yet. So, as far as everyone was concerned, all the "Howling Commandos" were live people.
Posted by: clyde | November 5, 2014 12:34 PM
Secret Warriors retconned the retcon. Now LMD technology was developed by Leonardo DaVinci!
Posted by: Andrew | March 26, 2015 7:14 PM
Comments are now closed.
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