FAST AND FURY-OUS: The Career of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. -

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FAST AND FURY-OUS: The Career of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

CINESCAPE tracks the career of Marvel's resident warhorse

By Arnold T. Blumberg     September 07, 2001

Nick Fury's first appearance; Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduce us to Sgt. Fury in 1963.
© Marvel Characters Inc.
- - Begin S.H.I.E.L.D. briefing: Fury, Nicholas - -
- - Security Level: Alpha Omega - -
- - Transmission Starts - -

This report is an internal S.H.I.E.L.D. document addressing the current "Fury situation." As you are all aware, Nicholas Joseph Fury has distinguished himself over the years as one of our most accomplished soldiers, espionage agents, and leaders through crises both local and cosmic in scope. He is perhaps the finest distillation of the military mind that our nation has produced in the last sixty years, but his talents as a commander of men and a protector of our government's secrets have come at a high price. Fury's mental state at present is of some concern to this organization, and this briefing has been drafted to give all agents some vital background on the man and his career to date. Should the "Fury situation" require a swift resolution, we believe this data may help agents in the field to evaluate their options and determine a course of action for dealing with this living legend.

John Severin lends his artistic talents to Sgt. Fury's brand of cigar-chompin' action.

Fury first burst onto the international scene in World War II in colorful exploits recorded in the pages of SGT. FURY & HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS (the first issue was published in May 1963). Fury forged a band of extremely loyal and distinctive operatives, and together this team made significant inroads into Axis forces and helped to hasten the end of the war. It should also be noted that during his WWII service, he was first exposed to the "Infinity Formula," a serum that has enabled Fury to retard the aging process and remain a dynamic and relatively youthful individual (although his greying temples and eyepatch have been distinguishing features for many years).

Fury remained in active service with his Howling Commandos through the Korean War, earning a promotion to Second Lieutenant and then Colonel. From there he began an assignment with the CIA, and his exceptional abilities in combat, keen military mind and recent experience in espionage made him a perfect choice for work in our organization. He was subsequently recruited to head S.H.I.E.L.D. In fact, he was so highly regarded that he was immediately installed as the director and given unprecedented powers of command and control.

Throughout the '60s, '70s and '80s, former WWII Sgt. Fury traded his fatigues for state-of-the-art secret agent duds.

Colonel Nick Fury assumed his position in S.H.I.E.L.D. as recorded in STRANGE TALES #135 (August 1965). At first his adventures as one of the Cold War's most illustrious espionage agents were embellished by noted comic book artist Jack Kirby, cocreator of the so-called "Marvel Universe." Later, another artist named Jim Steranko added his own distinctive touch and opened a period of artistic and graphic design innovation that made Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. operations some of the most exciting and experimental comic book stories told up to that point. Some of us questioned the logic of allowing our most sensitive secrets to see the light of day in this format, but since they were largely read by young Americans eager to see Fury "beat the bad guys" and protect our country, it was deemed a reasonable security leak that would not impact on our effectiveness.

During his run in STRANGE TALES, Nick Fury even mixed it up with fellow WWII vet, Captain America.

Colonel Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. adventures were featured in the pages of STRANGE TALES for several years, sharing space (and covers) in that anthology title with Dr. Strange (file #0763-DS-SS-0668), a mysterious Greenwich Village occult expert who has been under observation by our people for some time. The popularity of Fury's tales was so great that in June 1968, he was moved into his own comic book series, NICK FURY, AGENT OF SHIELD, which again featured artwork by Jim Steranko. Today it is revered by aficionados of the medium as one of the most dazzling displays of original design and illustration attempted in an adventure comic of that time.

An example of Jim Steranko's stunning cover designs for the classic NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

As the 1970s and '80s passed, Fury's work with S.H.I.E.L.D. brought him into contact (or conflict) with a number of the many so-called "superheroes" who now populate every corner of our world. While he has at times collaborated with such trusted agents, he has also come to blows with icons such as the legendary Captain America (file #0341-CA-SR-0468), corporate bodyguard Iron Man (file #0568-IM-TS-0298), and Iron Man's boss, Tony Stark (same file number). He has even had to face the menace of his own brother, Jacob Fury, in the guise of the evil Scorpio. Other opponents included the Yellow Claw, Baron Strucker, and the forces of Hydra, a global terrorist organization that would return to plague Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. for many years.

In the beginning, Fury forged a strong bond with fellow operatives just as he had done with the Howling Commandos. Fellow Commando Dum Dum Dugan joined Fury in his new work as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., as did Jasper Sitwell, Gabe Jones, Jimmy Woo, and Valentina Allegro De Fontaine a "countess" who would pose an interesting distraction for Fury during the course of his career. But as time passed, Fury's relationship with his fellow agents began to alter. His interaction with super-powered denizens of our world, perhaps influenced by this growing sense of unease and suspicion, often led to tense confrontations or outright battles that were usually left unresolved. At times, Fury seemed to question his role, his degree of control, and even the security of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself.

At the end of the 1980s, Fury smoked out the corruption eating away at S.H.I.E.L.D. from within.

His sharp insight and unswerving devotion to ideals instilled in him since his WWII days led him to uncover a massive global conspiracy hidden within the heart of our own organization, but by this time, Fury was beginning to enter a new stage in his life, and his role as an active member of S.H.I.E.L.D. was going through significant changes. As the world transformed via technology, the internet, and the concurrent shrinking of the global community, Fury found himself a man out of time. In some instances, Fury's conduct led us to believe that he was working against us rather than for us, a distrust perhaps fueled by the discoveries he made in the late '80s and one that he could never quite set aside even after the resolution of that incident (chronicled in the mini-series NICK FURY VS. S.H.I.E.L.D., June-November 1988).

Nick Fury isn't a guy you want to mess with. Art by Darick Robertson and Jimmy Palmiotti.

In the latter years of his career, Fury has become an increasingly dissatisfied individual, perturbed by the modernization and decentralization of S.H.I.E.L.D. and his own role as figurehead as opposed to hands-on leader and operative. It is clear that Fury's unique psychology, coupled with his years of field experience, has left him a troubled man who yearns for action and finds none in the modern world of 'war by technology and information.' It is even possible - though still unthinkable to many in this organization - that Fury may perhaps be compromised by a former or present day enemy wishing to engage his desire for mayhem in order to foment an incident somewhere in the world.

If Fury does indeed long for the glory of war and the smell of acrid smoke rising from the barrel of a gun if he were to apply his knowledge and experience in other, more unscrupulous circles - he may be more dangerous than all of our current enemies combined. We have therefore implemented a new surveillance plan along the lines of those conducted via the Marvel Comics series listed above, code-named MAX, through which we will monitor his activities in this new stage of his life and determine whether or not Fury should be eliminated from the equation...permanently.

- - End S.H.I.E.L.D. briefing: Fury, Nicholas - -
- - Security Level: Alpha Omega - -
- - Transmission Concluded - -


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