Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #1-6
Issue(s): Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #1, Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #2, Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #3, Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #4, Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #5, Nick Fury vs. SHIELD #6
In addition to having caused some continuity turbulence thanks to its delays, this series also introduces some problems during the course of the story and ultimately leaves a kind of confusing mess thanks to the plot's heavy use of Life Model Decoys and in fact existing SHIELD characters getting turned into LMDs and then dying. Later revelations (beginning in 1989's Nick Fury ongoing series, also written by Bob Harras at first) will show that the characters that are converted and killed in this story were actually just replaced.
Continuity problems and LMD confusion aside, there's some decent writing here. I generally think of Bob Harras as the writer of a not-so-good Avengers run, the X-Editor that let things fall to pieces, and then the Editor in Chief during one of Marvel's lowest points. So i'm continually surprised when he writes a good story during these earlier periods, like with Avengers annual #7, Thor #356, and Avengers #280. The writing here can get a bit dry, but it's a cool conspiracy plot dealing with a takeover of SHIELD at the highest levels, and people who have seen the Marvel Studio movies, especially Captain America 2: Winter Soldier, will recognize elements that were taken from this series. If you're rolling your eyes at a revelation about something sinister going on inside SHIELD, recognize that this was the first time that was done.
Format-wise, it's a six issue mini with cardstock covers (what Mark Drummond might call the Dark Knight format), each with a $3.50 cover price, making the issues more expensive than the similarly formatted Excalibur Special Edition. Art is by Paul Neary, in a style similar to his Captain America run, although Kim DeMulder's inks bring a little more depth and realism. The coloring, by Bernadette Jaye, is also more subdued than your typically brightly colored super-hero book. We are a ways away from the period where Marvel will replace its color palette entirely with 26 different shades of brown, but this series does bring that to mind. Although it's much more appropriate for a dark and paranoid spy story than your average super-hero comic.
The covers of this series are all by different artists, with some dramatically different interpretations of Nick Fury. Several covers look like James Bond style movie posters.
We begin with Nick Fury delving into the heart of the wreckage of the SHIELD helicarrier, which has apparently been sitting where it crashed since the 1985 She-Hulk novel.
SHIELD (with the hands-on Fury taking the lead) is investigating the possibility that the ship's power core has been damaged, and indeed that is the case.
The core wasn't damaged in the crash, though, raising the question of what caused it to crack now. The core begins to leak wildly, and Fury and Quartermain get it to a containment cube. Six SHIELD agents die due to the radiation leak, and there are also two additional bodies, possibly the men who were responsible for cracking the shielding.
Some weaknesses of Fury are highlighted early on. Referencing the event that caused the SHIELD helicarrier to crash in the first place, he thinks to himself, "somethin' just ain't right any more. The last few years there's been so many mishaps. Agents steppin' outta line". This dovetails with his thoughts about getting old and retiring. And of course Fury is blaming himself for the death of the agents.
I thought this might lead to an examination of Fury's hands-on style and inability to delegate, but the story doesn't go in that direction.
After Fury is decontaminated, Hydra attacks, deploying from an AIM saucer.
A number of SHIELD agents, including Clay Quartermain and Gail Runciter, are on the scene to defend against the attack.
Continuing with what i thought would be a look at Fury's style, he pulls a noncombat officer into the battle, and gets him killed.
Hydra and AIM get away with the power core in the cube, and Clay Quartermain is (seemingly) fatally injured.
Fury then gets a notification from a sleeper agent that he had planted at Roxxon named Jack Rollins.
Rollins has information on a program at Roxxon called Delta which (not coincidentally, as we'll find out) was also the name of an abandoned agent retraining program at SHIELD.
While infiltrating Roxxon to look into Delta, Nick Fury uses a Mini-Brain "Scanner" that actually mind-wipes the guards they knock out. He mentions a Council that has issued the device to high level SHIELD operatives. Fury also hasn't been too curious about the side effects.
Investigating Roxxon computer files, Fury and Rollins find that Roxxon has detailed and top secret SHIELD information, including plans related to the Helicarrier's power core.
They delve deeper into Roxxon's facilities and find a vast underground base and a group of cultish looking people with the power core.
You'd think at this point Fury would call in SHIELD. What he's seen at this point indicates that Roxxon has stolen intel from SHIELD and is in cahoots with Hydra and AIM. Nothing that confirms a problem inside SHIELD yet. So he shouldn't have any problem bringing in his agents. But he doesn't. And this seems to have been predicted. There are scenes of a shadowy Council or Board (all black panels, with just dialogue) confidentially saying that Nick Fury is a "free spirit", which again suggests that his hands-on approach to leadership is actually a detriment. Fury leaves Roxxon and signals to this Board that he wants to talk with them. He heads back to SHIELD headquarters in New York, passing Jasper Sitwell, the Contessa, Dum Dum Dugan, Jimmy Woo, and Gabe Jones and telling them only to gather information on Roxxon, AIM, and Hydra without saying what he's learned. He goes to his private quarters where he speaks to the council, represented as distorted faces on monitors. It's later said that this Board has been running SHIELD since "day one".
The Board tells him not to tell anyone about what he found at Roxxon. They then send Jimmy Woo to kill Rollins.
The Board then summons Fury for a trial, where Rollins is produced and testifies that he found no evidence of wrongdoing at Roxxon.
Seeing how things are going, Fury breaks out...
...with the idea of contacting the Avengers. All of SHIELD is sent after Fury as he escapes their base, with Sitwell playing the loyal soldier while Val, Dum Dum, and Gabe are more hesitant.
Dum Dum actually helps Fury escape, but still isn't sure what is going on. Fury escapes and is on the run, alone. According to Jimmy Woo, this is all according to plan.
Fury winds up hiding in the sewers (or actually, they look like the Morlock tunnels)...
...where he's actually got a secret hidden base. He never makes it to the Avengers, though. He's discovered and attacked by a SHIELD agent that is actually from Roxxon's Delta program, with the implication that being those two things isn't mutually exclusive.
Fury kills the agent and discovers... something that we aren't privy to yet.
Meanwhile, Fury's closest allies in SHIELD are tested for their loyalty to the organization.
Jasper Sitwell is made head of SHIELD now that Fury is gone. Dum Dum is said to have been passed up due to his heart condition (c.f. Captain America #284).
We get a closer look at the Council, and the leader is using a Baron Strucker style cigarette holder.
They are talking about their "latest acquisition" and how "the encoders have cut the timing of the process from weeks to a matter of days".
What happens next is one of the most disappointing parts of the story. It's understood that this has to be a Nick Fury and SHIELD story, and we can't just have Marvel's super-heroes swooping in to save the day. But the manner in which they are prevented from entering the story is not believable to me. Henry Gyrich takes agent Jack Rollins around, and they basically intimidate the East and West Coast Avengers, and the Fantastic Four, from interfering and even demand that if Fury contacts them that they have to turn him in.
(The above is the actual order that Gyrich and Rollins talk to the heroes, meaning they put a priority on talking to all the Avengers even if it meant flying back and forth across the country.)
I can't really buy any of these heroes being intimidated by threats from the government. I could see some of them agreeing to let due process take its course if Gyrich had come in with a softer touch (i know, unlike him). But for the most part, i think Gyrich's warnings should have actually had the opposite effect and gotten the heroes to start looking for Fury and rally to his defense. But that's not the case, and this does take the heroes out of the picture.
Jimmy Woo meanwhile leads a team of agents into the sewers where Fury is hiding, and slaughters a bunch of homeless people.
Driven from his hiding place, Fury tries reaching out to Val, but she betrays him (which is given a little more development than the super-heroes' response, but i'm still not happy about it) and leads SHIELD to their meeting place on the docks. Fury is thought to be shot dead in the water. However, of course his body isn't recovered (and the need to find his body is shown to be beyond just confirming that he's dead; they actually need it for some reason).
The other big news is that Clay Quartermain is still alive. Or alive again.
He's considered a prize by the council for reasons not yet disclosed, and the fact that he's been having dreams is raised as a point of interest and concern.
Fury reaches out to an Alexander Goodwin Pierce, "a nondescript little man, who pays his bills on time. Works hard on the job, and is kind to animals". It turns out that wasn't always the case though.
Pierce is a sleeper agent that has gone flabby while on assignment, but he willingly takes in Fury and patches him up with Fury (justifiably paranoid) threatening him, saying that if he shows any signs of turning on him, he'll kill him.
Another development: SHIELD Agent John Allen is shown resenting having the task of monitoring comatose ESPer agents.
At some point in the past, Nick Fury (he thinks) ordered that the ESPers be set up to be used at maximum range, ostensibly to search for external psychic attacks. But forcing them to be comatose and "on" all the time is killing them. Allen wonders if now that Fury is gone if he can get Sitwell to end the program. He checks the latest from them and notices many "flat scans" among the SHIELD agents.
We also find out that SHIELD has an Obadiah Stane LMD, which they are using to continue weapon supplies flowing from Stane International.
SHIELD must be keeping the Stane LMD a secret. Tony Stark, at least, would be suspicious if Stane was still around, since Stark witnessed him kill himself in Iron Man #200. In Iron Man #233 we'll hear that Stane International is being run by a "mysterious cartel" which i'm surprised Iron Man hasn't felt was worth investigating. And if the Stane LMD is being kept a secret, what is the point? SHIELD could have just as easily taken over Stane International by replacing the current CEO with an LMD, right?
Another thread is CIA agent Al Mackenzie, wondering what's going on at SHIELD.
Mackenzie is being walked out the door when Allen shows up to inform Woo about the flat scans detected by the ESPers. After Allen gives his report, Sitwell orders him killed. Mackenzie rescues him and the two partner up.
Meanwhile, Nick Fury and Alexander Goodwin Pierce infiltrate a local SHIELD base and raid it for weapons and intel...
...and Fury learns that SHIELD is specifically after his body. Pierce isn't so good at holding off the guards, though.
They manage to get away, but as reinforcement shows up, Fury learns that Clay Quartermain is alive.
SHIELD then decides to bring out a Nick Fury LMD. The presence of the LMD upsets Agent Rollins.
Sitwell tells him to not re-enact the Scopes Trial, which is telling. That trial famously was a debate about evolution. Why would that be relevant when a bunch of SHIELD agents are talking about an LMD?
That's the key to his plot. Our next clue is that the "turned" SHIELD agents are shown aging at a rapid pace, starting with Jimmy Woo.
Meanwhile, Tony Stark has been summoned to the Hollywood of some dystopian future...
...and contacted by Nick Fury.
Stark in this context isn't just another super-hero or ("former") weapons dealer. He's the guy that recruited Fury to SHIELD in Strange Tales #135. Fury tells Stark that "your organization stinks now". Stark is unwilling to believe Fury, in part because he says the idea of the gigantic organization SHIELD being corrupt from the top down is too mind-boggling to imagine, but also because of some past history between him and Fury. He says, "Do you remember when you and your stormtroopers tried to take my Iron Man armor away?". Fury responds that he doesn't know what Stark is talking about.
This seems to be a reference to Iron Man #117-Iron Man #129 and/or Iron Man #174-175, but i don't know how seriously we're supposed to take the idea that Fury wasn't really in those issues. Tony Stark himself was drunk at the time, and Fury could be taking advantage of that.
Fury tells Stark that if he doesn't help him, he'll reveal to the world that he's Iron Man. Stark isn't sure if Fury really knows that, and tries to not let it pressure him. Stark thinks to himself that "a few months ago" Fury didn't know that Stark was Iron Man, seemingly a reference to Iron Man #227.
Jimmy Woo, worrying about feeling less and less human, contacts Madame Hydra, and gives her the power core.
And SHIELD meanwhile sends the Nick Fury LMD to test Stark, who doesn't let on that he's just seen the real Fury. The encounter has the opposite effect of confirming for Stark that the real Fury was not lying.
Fury and Pierce then raid a SHIELD base (with Pierce performing better this time), rescuing Al Mackenzie and John Allen, who had been captured, and also taking SHIELD Agent Eric Koening prisoner. Tony Stark shows up while they are interrogating Koening and uses a device to test to see if Koening is an LMD. The results are more spectacular than expected.
The mention of Hong Kong is actually bait; the Board had anticipated this capture, which seems a bit convenient.
It's confirmed in issue #4 that SHIELD is after Nick Fury because of the Infinity Formula in his blood, which can be used to correct the aging problem they have been experiencing. At this point it's pretty clear that the SHIELD agents are some kind of advanced LMDs. As they age they are given new bodies, but with each transplant they become less and less human. The Infinity Formula would prevent them from aging and allow them to retain their humanity.
It's worth noting that Fury is said to be the "one man" with the formula, meaning that at this point he hasn't been supplying to the other older timer Howlers like Dum Dum and Gabe.
We don't yet see exactly how the LMD situation relates to the mysterious Board.
Meanwhile, Nick Fury and company enter Hong Kong in style. We've seen this suit before, in Strange Tales #166.
Fury hooks up with a guy he knows from the Korean War, named Pail.
Pail's sumo son Weng is unfortunately smitten with Madame Hydra, and she knocks him out with poisoned lipstick and has something implanted in his head. We also learn that despite her identical look, she isn't the original Madame Hydra that we also know as Viper. She is Madame Hydra Six.
The Madame Hydra One slot is still vacant (presumably because Viper is working independently nowadays).
Unbeknownst to Madame Hydra, the Supreme Hydra is actually our cigarette smoking Board member, and he has no intention of of honoring any agreements with her. It's also confirmed that he's not Baron Strucker, but Strucker was one of his progenitors, and his lover, another Board member, is made up of a composition of "the women in Fury's life" (to my recollection Gail Runciter was never a love interest, so it's literally just the women in his life.).
Weng leads Fury and his crew to the Hydra base. Meanwhile, this Madame Hydra shows herself to be pretty crazy.
She activates the implant in Weng's head, and he starts to take down Fury's allies.
Agent John Allen is killed. While Fury fights Weng...
...Alexander Goodwin Pierce rushes forward and starts shooting up Hydra's base.
Madame Hydra is pretty impressed with him.
Nick Fury and Al Mackenzie show up to back Pierce up, but Madame Hydra throws a knife as "a salute from one killer to another", and hits him.
The entire Hydra base is actually a giant rocket, and it's set to go off during the fight. Fury goes off to chase Madame Hydra singlehandedly. The others (Pierce survived the knife hit) comment on how it's amazing that Fury's grandstanding didn't spell the end of SHIELD long ago.
Fury and the others manage to get off the rocket, with Madame Hydra in captivity, but they fail to stop the rocket launch. That's unfortunate because it was hidden under a populated section of Hong Kong, and the people above the rocket silo are killed. But it also means that Madame Hydra failed, because the rocket was supposed to deliver Fury to our mysterious Board member. They force Madame Hydra to lead them to the stolen Helicarrier power core, and they wind up traveling on foot through the mountains.
I like this Madame Hydra. She has all the fanaticism and insanity of the 1970s version of the original one, before Chris Claremont made her more of a calculating ice queen. I especially like how she tells Pierce that she tried to kill him while he was at the height of her warrior glory, before the fear of death "emasculated" him. Like, i was doing you a favor!
Dum Dum, Gabe, and Val had been leading a separate investigation into SHIELD, and uncovered the data on SHIELD's version of Project Delta, which they find was supposed to remove feelings of guilt from SHIELD agents. Nick Fury had scrapped the program. Val has now been assigned by the Board to go to Delta. And what she finds there is something more like a religious ceremony.
And it's clear that the LMDs that are replacing the SHIELD agents, which are called Deltites, aren't just robots programmed to look and act like them. They actually pull away the original's soul. The agent below is Kate Neville.
The Deltites are now ready for the final stage of their plan, which is called the Ascension. They send out floating orbs that suck up agents from all over the world. The ascension also has the effect of making all the ladies look naked. Couldn't they at least have a belt like the guys?
Nick Fury is also captured as he climbs up the mountain Madam Hyrdra brought him to. According to his captors, SHIELD, Hydra, and AIM have been controlled by the leader of the Delta project for "years".
Meanwhile, the leader himself confers with all of the various personalities the make up his brain.
During all of this, Gabe and Dum Dum are out in the boondocks and kind of at a loss.
In the interest of fairness, since i complained about how the female SHIELD agents were drawn, here's what the Deltites have Nick Fury wearing.
Meanwhile, the Clay Quartermain Deltite starts to rebel because he's so perfect that he has actual memories of his previous humanity, and Madame Hydra inspires a rebellion among the captive SHIELD agents against the "Encoder" LMDs that are tasked with creating the Deltites.
And the main Deltite (who we just call "Deltite") stops the process of taking the Infinity Formula from Fury, because the process has caused them to touch souls.
So he takes Fury into his chambers for an explanation of what's been going on. Deltite started out as a lowly LMD assigned as a maintenance bot. But he eventually came across the personality tapes that were used to give LMDs their programming. He killed the human that was in charge of the tapes, replacing him in a new LMD body, and then started mixing and matching personalities and bodies. It's said that among his personalities is Tony Stark, and he used Stark's business savvy to take over Roxxon (and maybe even make Roxxon the company it is today? "Tony Stark I used to play the market for years. Ultimately, it brough Roxxon and its vast resources to me."). He used the personality tapes of Baron Strucker and Edwin Booth (!) to take over Hydra and AIM. And he used the ESPer agents to look for SHIELD agents that would make candidates for replacing with Deltite LMDs. He also made up a false religion for his creations to follow.
The most outrageous claim is that he is responsible for putting Nick Fury in charge of SHIELD.
A big problem with that is that SHIELD didn't really seem to exist prior to Strange Tales #135, but this story shows that SHIELD was already in existence for a while prior to Nick Fury's recruitment. It's a pretty big revision, but it's not out of the question to suggest that SHIELD existed in some form prior to Fury's recruitment. This story says that Fury was SHIELD's second public director, after the first one was assassinated.
On top of that, however, Baron Strucker didn't surface in the modern world until Strange Tales #156. So unless proto-SHIELD managed to get personality tapes of Baron Strucker during World War II, which seems highly unlikely, there's a problem here. I suppose the timing could be stretched out, such that Deltite first awakened prior to ST #135 but didn't apply the Strucker tape until later, but that's not the way the information is presented.
Deltite infiltrated the Council/Board (it's still not clear who originally comprised the Board) and ensured that Fury was picked as the replacement. We're assured that Fury probably would have been picked anyway, but Deltite wanted to be sure.
On top of these revisions, one thing i am a little disappointed by is that it's said that Fury was the perfect dupe for Deltite because he was such a military man, always stressing order and respect for chain of command.
If you know anything about Nick Fury, that doesn't really sound like him, going all the way back to his Howling Commando days. And this story has repeatedly shown Fury taking reckless risks . I mean, the story took pains to emphasize that. If there was meant to be a "for me but not for thee" element to it, it didn't come across clearly.
Meanwhile, the SHIELD resistance continues, thanks in no small part to Madame Hydra Six, or as i like to call her, Madame Awesome.
And the Quartermain Deltite accesses the power core and cracks open its protective casing. And in the ensuing chaos, Fury attacks and defeats the Deltite.
The remaining Deltites opt to stay on the base while it explodes thanks to the power core. All the SHIELD agents safely get away. But thanks to the fundamental infiltration of the organization, the UN decides to disband SHIELD.
The Winter Soldier movie (and SHIELD television show) took the basic elements of this story but simplified them by simply revealing that Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD from the top, removing the LMD element. Which i think was the right move. LMDs (or Deltites) are messy. I don't even like the idea of LMDs being basically the same thing as androids, since they were originally literally meant to be Life Model Decoys, i.e. something to confuse an enemy assassin. How something called a Life Model Decoy ever wound up doing maintenance work is beyond me, and misses the point of the concept. We've also already had stories about LMDs that think they are people, in Defenders and Iron Man, and of course the question of whether or not robots can be human has been a subject at Marvel at least as long as the Vision. So to do that story on top of the SHIELD corruption tale potentially bogs it down, especially when you get into the phony religious trappings too. But on the other hand, there's economy to having the bad guys in this story all be robots that happily explode themselves when the plot's over, so we don't have years of mop-up in the Marvel universe chasing down corrupt agents. And Bob Harras does build a nice conspiracy thriller here, with elements from James Bond by way of Jim Steranko. The Neary/DeMulder art is very straightforward, though. Clear and clean but not at all Steranko-ish. It's also unfortunate that the story had to play loosely with continuity and couldn't even square the circles left by the premature references to the series.
Nonetheless, a pretty bold move by Marvel to allow Harras to completely dismantle SHIELD (for a while, ofc) and (seemingly) kill off a bunch of agents.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: After trying to figure out the implications of the LMD revelations, the biggest conundrum from a continuity perspective is trying to fit in the cameo appearances by Marvel's Avengers and Fantastic Four. The problem there relates to the reference in Fantastic Four #316 to the events of West Coast Avengers #35. That West Coast run is when the Vision and the Scarlet Witch join the team, but that Fantastic Four run leads directly into Evolutionary War, with Fantastic Four annual #21 showing the team returning from their adventure in Fantastic Four #313-317. The MCP ignore the comments about the FF returning from their adventure and place this after FF #317 and before FF annual #21, with the idea that the Thing and company may talk about having just arrived home, but they really had a meeting with SHIELD and Gyrich on the roof of their building first (maybe a meeting they'd like to forget). But - and i've gone back and forth on this - i prefer to keep that opening scene in the annual as intended and instead stipulate that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch weren't formally part of the West Coast Avengers yet. Wonder Man was shown visiting them in WCA #30, so it's not impossible he might have invited them out to California for a visit. And they don't actually talk in the panel they are shown in. Since something has to give, i'd rather do it in a way that doesn't contradict the spoken dialogue. So i've placed this before FF #313-317 and West Coast Avengers #33-36. The scene with the East Coast Avengers shows Black Knight without his exoskeleton, and while that's also true in X-Factor #32, which has to take place after Avengers #294, i prefer to keep Black Knight's appearances to a minimum between Avengers #294-295. We'll just have to assume Captain Marvel wasn't available at the moment Gyrich showed up.
This story takes place over a period of weeks.
It should also be noted that the characters that are turned into LMDs and then die in this series don't really die, per later revelations, and in fact some of the SHIELD operatives used here, including the Gaffer, Jimmy Woo, Gail Runciter, and Laura Brown, don't actually appear in this series at all. Since Clay Quartermain had been appearing regularly in Hulk this year, i'll note that he does actually appear in this mini, and this series should take place after his Hulk appearances. It's said that Clay's brother won't be able to attend his funeral; it's nice that they acknowledged his existence.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (20): show
Too bad it didn't stick.
Posted by: Robert | June 25, 2014 6:13 PM
I'm sure Nick has that old costume somewhere around one of his homes.
Posted by: david banes | June 25, 2014 7:58 PM
I don't think that the LMDs were intended to actually steal the soul of the person they duplicate. I think they were intended to duplicate their personality- the Deltite refers to Clay Quatermain as the "original". It's moot now, of course. Similar confusing language about whether the Phoenix duplicsted Jean's personality or stole her soul showed up in Inferno, which not coincidentally was edited by Bob Harras.
Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2014 11:15 PM
While there are elements I liked about this series, it simply doesn't work. It gets rid of a lot of SHIELD characters simply to replace them with new characters that are for the most part not as interesting.
The series also botches what has always been something dubious - who runs SHIELD and why. There is no way a governmental agency (most likely an international organization) would have directors whose identities were unknown. There'd be oversight committees, internal affair agencies, and plenty of other watchdogs (including the FBI and CIA not to mention foreign government intelligence agencies). The LMD plot simply doesn't work and requires everyone to be stupid.
I take it that Marvel wanted to shake up SHIELD in the hopes it could survive as a new series. If so, they had plenty of other ways to do it. They needed to remove Fury from his desk job and put him back in the field, so they could have easily simply replaced Fury as the boss and put it in a new character that would shake things up. But they KEPT Fury as head of the new SHIELD which just duplicates the error.
The only good thing was a new Madame Hydra which I always thought was a good concept.
Posted by: Chris | June 25, 2014 11:34 PM
I'm with Robert: I loved this mini and think its a shame it was almost immediately retconned and watered down. In fact, more or less completely canceled out.
Harras seems to have drawn on "Blade Runner" and maybe even just a bit of "Alien," as well as James Bond, of course. He and Neary do it deftly, so that even though the plot isn't anything new--as you point out, we've seen rogue LMDs before, and even the idea of SHIELD corruption wasn't entirely new--it feels more like a classic rebelling than a retread, sort of like "Indiana Jones" revisiting the old Republic serials.
Nobody else is Steranko's, but I don't think you give Neary and the art team enough credit: there's a bit of a Steranko's vibe but presented through the style of '80s realism. Again, that's not Steranko's, but I find this series true to the spirit of the old SHIELD--both Lee/Kirby and Steranko's--while also doing its own thing.
Also, credit to Harras for not going the lame route of just bringing back Fury's only villain, Strucker. This was a new threat derived from an old gimmick that nonetheless felt like a menace worth taking seriously, a threat worthy of the occasion and deluxe-format treatment.
I do agree the retcons were trying to go too far, unnecessarily so. Deloitte didn't need to be the mastermind of absolutely everything to be a cool enemy.
Reading your review, by the way, put me in mind of a fan-fix for a lingering problem: how about we say Yorgon and Valdemar Tykkio, the AIM leaders, were Deltites? That might explain why Yorgon wasn't quite human when he got his face smashed.
I wonder if this series also could give us something interesting to work with in light of the Strucker android controlled by Machinesmith in Captain America. You could have the makings of a large-scale android / post-human conspiracy here. Lots for Nathan Adler to ruminate on.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 26, 2014 12:10 AM
Walter meant "retelling," not "rebelling," but I corrected him.
Posted by: Walter Lawson's Sentient iPad | June 26, 2014 12:14 AM
The real question is...did the Deltites dress Nick in that for some reason, or is it a standard-issue SHIELD battle-thong that all agents wear under their uniforms? :P
Posted by: Dermie | June 26, 2014 12:55 AM
The Fury crucifixion scene is a Dali homage, apologies if I'm stating the obvious:
Posted by: Cullen | June 26, 2014 1:18 AM
The one-Shot Fury (1994) explains the backstory of SHIELD, showing the first director of the SHIELD, Rick Stoner, killed by Hydra very soon after his appointment.
Posted by: Midnighter | June 26, 2014 6:22 AM
@Cullen - thanks for that. I, at least, wasn't aware of it. (Doesn't quite explain the outfit, though!).
@Walter's iPad - I see you didn't apologize for slandering the fine people at Deloitte.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 26, 2014 7:43 AM
Is it just me or does the post-Marvel Now! Captain America and Winter Soldier: The Bitter March confuse SHIELD chronology some more?
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 26, 2014 8:03 AM
@Michael - like you said, it's moot, but i'm curious how you interpret the scenes with Kate Neville, if it's not about pulling her soul away.
More "importantly" i'm also still not sure why the MCP lists the Fury LMD in IM #227 but not the earlier IM issues (and why both the real Fury and the LMD are listed for #227). I figured i'll wait until i get to the 1989 Fury series to see if it's explained there but just thought i'd see if you know.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 26, 2014 9:20 AM
I agree that it's hard to explain that scene unless they're absorbing her soul but they're described as duplicates elsewhere.
Posted by: Michael | June 26, 2014 8:49 PM
Thanks, Michael. I think i'm going to remove the Nick Fury LMD II appearances unless/until i find some confirmation of it.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 26, 2014 8:52 PM
Ah, but it's not just me declaring it "Dark Knight Format"--it was just about everyone who read comics back in the mid-1980s. It got so prevalent that when Archie Goodwin introduced the Epic Series "Blood" in that format that he had to go through unbelievable verbal twists and turns to avoid mentioning Dark Knight.
Bad coloring on Jimmy Woo in the Roxxon files.
Neary doesn't just bring back those flying suits for the entry into Hong Kong; he outright swiped a Steranko pose. He also seems to have swiped Pail's face from Neal Adams' Sensei in DC's Deadman.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 28, 2014 4:59 PM
Retailers under-ordered #2, making it a temporary hot issue. I was lucky to get mine right off, but I had the damnedest time finding #1 back then...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 28, 2014 5:11 PM
Walter's iPad is a deltite!
Posted by: Alex F. | August 29, 2014 1:51 AM
"Jasper Sitwell is made head of SHIELD now that Fury is gone. Dum Dum is said to have been passed up due to his heart condition"
Recent revelations in Original Sin put this in a different light...
Posted by: Harry | August 29, 2014 5:29 AM
So, they spent all that time working on this, all those years of referring to it, and this was the mess they came up with?
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 3, 2015 11:44 AM
I just get past the colors. It's so washed out looking! The first book looks fine, book two gets kinda pale. By the time you get to book four there are panels that are plain b&w next to a panel that's monotone or duo-tone. It's very distracting. I know it's 80s printing: compared to the digital color separations of today it's not the same at all but come on!
Posted by: Jay T | May 18, 2016 7:06 PM
You know, I could have sworn that I had commented on this miniseries before but then I remembered that those comments were about the Fury one-shot and how it related to this miniseries.
Anyway, the one thing that REALLY bothers me is how everyone (even Bob Harras in the second NFAOS series) keeps referring to the Deltites as LMDs. Life Model Decoys are androids, robots designed to look like real human beings on the outside but being mechanical/electronic on the inside. In contrast, the Deltites, although artificially created through genetic engineering, were organic beings who aged and died. They may have been parasites who sucked memories and/or life force from their templates but they were definitely alive and not robotic and therefore not LMDs. Unfortunately, everyone seems to overlook this fact. It's quite frustrating that this misconception is so persistent.
Posted by: Don Campbell | May 19, 2016 3:15 AM
Various thoughts and stuff I noticed while reading this.
1. The art is awesome. For some reason I like it more than Neary's Captain America run (which was good too!). I guess it's the DeMulder inks. However, the coloring can be weird at times.
2. The Deltites stuff sounds like a cool concept but the execution is too messy and ultimately makes everything way too confusing. LMDs are enough. Harras makes SHIELD look like a factory of agents based after the same bunch of guys over and over. It has the side effect of cheapening death, which happens all the time in Marvel, but it's especially noticeable here.
3. A consequence of this is that before I was done reading this, I already suspected Jimmy Woo, Laura Brown and everyone else never really appeared in this series. Especially the Gaffer, even though he's never explicitly confirmed as a Deltite, it's obvious he wouldn't have betrayed Fury like that.
4. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of stuff here was later retconned out. Which it actually was, based on what Fnord and everyone else said here, but I haven't read the 1989 Nick Fury series yet so I can only imagine the way it makes this mini look like a mess.
5. Other than that, I liked this mini and was surprised at how much of it was simplified/adapted out for the Winter Soldier movie. It basically became a Captain America and Hydra story with some SHIELD elements here and there.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | June 28, 2017 10:43 AM
6. Early in the story, Fury is walking in some street and we see a comic book page in a panel. It shows someone's shoes walking on spiders. I wondered if it was meant to represent the corrupted situation of SHIELD and how Nick feels about it.
7. When Allen is investigating the flat scan stuff there's a screen with names of SHIELD agents. There actually are a lot of Marvel staff names just like every screen/newspaper/wall graffiti joke ever and something that might look like John Garrett.
8. Madame Hydra Six is cool.
9. In the light of post-Secret Wars revelations about Dum Dum Dugan, I wonder if his current "original soul wandering around in multiple LMD bodies" state was inspired by the Deltite stuff.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | June 28, 2017 10:46 AM
@Nate Wolf - Agreed that the Winter Soldier movie did a good job drawing inspiration from this miniseries to create a more streamlined storyline. It's probably my favorite Marvel Studios entry.
Posted by: Ben Herman | June 28, 2017 2:04 PM
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