Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD by Steranko & Co. (graphic novel review).

June 25, 2019 | By | Reply More

Although I own some of the Steranko original run of ‘Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD’ from the comicbook ‘Strange Tales’ back in the late 1960s, I don’t have all of his early issues and saw this graphic novel as a chance to fulfil something that should be on my bucket list. Although this volume came out in 2009 and there are other volumes since, this one focuses purely on his tales although I can’t speak for the other ones.

When Jack Kirby stepped back from the title to only do layouts, John Buscema did the opening story shown here, consequently erasing the layouts and did it his own way. Stan Lee also saw it as a means to bring in a new talent by the name of Jim Steranko who kept to Kirby’s layouts and over the issues took over it all, including the writing. All of this is from the introduction by A.M. Vituria. Reading the stories, you can slowly see the art changing. Steranko was learning on the job and building up the details. The effects of this have remained as part of the SHIELD story mythos even since which should speak for itself.

Considering Fury berates everyone in the same manner, especially Jasper Sitwell, you do have to wonder if his language would be tolerated today, let alone how he would get the respect of his officers. Even if, as he says, he’s mostly blowing wind, you still would have to wonder how to work out when he is being serious.

It’s rather interesting that the issue before Steranko took over the scripting was done by Roy Thomas. In that single issue, there was a blueprint of the SHIELD helicopter although with much of its detail hidden by text, establishing that Fury was going white haired at the temples and Dum Dum Dugan’s full name for the first time. If you thought that Hydra infiltrating SHIELD was something new to the TV series then you should find it interesting that it goes back to this period. Hail…SHIELD!

Steranko continually added gadgets galore to Fury’s personal arsenal before promptly having to use them. Some aren’t even revealed until needed although I doubt if having infra-red contact lens on all the time would be benefit because it would make greens black and darken things far more than reveal details. Interestingly, Fury in a fight is an equal to Captain America, despite being over 20 years older, no super-soldier serum and a couple decades before the Infinity Serum is revealed.

It’s rather weird seeing Steranko drawing Captain America and how he addressed the problem of eyes. The main reason eyes in cowls aren’t shown is because when comicbook art is reduced in size, a micro out and they can become cross-eyed. Steranko’s solution was to make them dead central to the eyeball. It’s an effect that artists use that gives the effect of them following you around the room. With Cap, his eyes do tend to bore into you.

Fury’s costume, as indeed other members of SHIELD’s zootsuits, are full of pouches to build weapons out of and probably one of things that was a major influence on some of the later super-hero costumes at Marvel.

Obviously, the Yellow Claw storyline is considered one of the best from Steranko and its rather interesting seeing the two double-page spreads extended into a four page spread here when you fold it out. Originally, it was suggested that you buy two issues to see it as it was supposed to be seen. Something I hadn’t known until reading the penultimate part was that that the Yellow Claw had several robots posing as him which throws an interesting question over Doctor Doom’s involvement.

This volume ends with ‘Today Earth Died’, which is odd because Steranko drew the next five issues of ‘Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD’ comicbook and could easily have been added here rather than in the even rarer collected volume, ‘Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD: Who Is Scorpio?’

Nevertheless, if you can lay your hands on this graphic novel or other reprints of Steranko’s works, then it’s worth a look. I just wish some company out there would reprint his ‘Chandler’ graphic novel. Don’t yield.

GF Willmetts

May 2019

(pub: Marvel, 2009. 248 page graphic novel softcover, Price: I pulled my copy for about £ 7.50 (UK). ISBN: 0-7851-0747-9)

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Category: Books, Superheroes

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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