Sunday, 19 December 2010

Nick Fury. Agent of SHIELD.

Strange Tales #135. Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD's first appearance
One of the things I always find hard to believe in life is that the Second World War ended less than twenty years before I was born, and that those people who were teaching me at school - even some of the younger ones - had actually lived through it. Somehow they seemed too much a part of the modern world to have come from such ancient and alien times.

Another person I always found it hard to believe had been in the War was Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD.

Oh, I know we were told he was and I knew he had his own comic set in that very conflict but, somehow, no matter how I tried, I couldn't see him as the same man. The Nick Fury we got in Agent of SHIELD didn't look like the Nick Fury of the Howling Commandos, didn't dress like him and didn't even seem to live in the same world as him. While the other Nick Fury was stuck in the 1940s - a time we all knew to be technological primitive compared to our hi-tech world of the 60s and 70s - this Nick Fury inhabited a realm of ray guns, spaceships and jet packs.

And maybe that was the root cause of my problem with the strip.

I never believed in it.

Even when I was a kid and could accept that being bitten by a spider could give you super-powers, every single thing that happened in Agent of SHIELD just seemed too far-fetched to me. I remember reading the first SHIELD story, in Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, and even then, with its Life Model Decoys, cars that fired missiles, and flying fortresses, it just seemed totally disconnected from any kind of reality. Lee and Kirby (Kirby especially, you suspect) were clearly taking their lead from James Bond and his many gadgets but, being Lee and Kirby, they turned the dial up to 11 till it felt like gadgets were all you were getting. Only twenty years after the days of the Howling Commandos, the  world according to Marvel had gone from World War Two technology to devices that could do anything. How could you take such a technological leap seriously when, in Nick Fury, it had a thread tying it so intrinsically to that past - one whose very presence instantly reminded us that only twenty years separated the technology of the two eras?

The odd thing was I didn't mind either Nick Fury or SHIELD when they turned up as guests in someone else's mag. Nor did I mind characters in other mags using ridiculous technology. It was just when Fury, his cohorts and his technology came together in their own mag that I had a problem.

Still, despite all my complaining about the strip being too far-fetched, SHIELD did at least give us one thing I could accept.

Nick Fury's flying car.

I refuse to listen to anyone who tells me that thing could never work.


O-Bot! said...

I tried to post a comment but I guess I messed it up. Or my internet is slow. Anyway ... Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do all this. Did you at least like Steranko's artwork?

Steve said...

Hi, O-Bot, welcome to the site.

I don't mind Jim Steranko's work on Nick Fury but I have to admit I preferred his work on Captain America.

If you're a Steranko fan and you haven't visited it already, you should check out cerebus660s' blog at: . He does a fair number of posts about Steranko and always appreciates feedback on the matter.

cerebus660 said...

Thanks for the plug Steve - very kind of you!

There's some Steranko Nick Fury stuff coming up very soon at The Glass Walking-Stick. O-Bot, you're very welcome to stop by...

Richard Bensam said...

It never really bothered me with Nick Fury as much as it might have because seeming slightly out of place is part of the character. As computer industry types say: it's a feature, not a bug. Clearly it's become more of a problem now that the Second World War is 65 years ago rather than 20.

But I know what you mean about that cognitive disconnect. One example has been haunting me: when Len Wein revived the Seven Soldiers of Victory in 1972, their last prior appearance in 1945 might as well have been Stone Age prehistory as far as I was concerned. But when Grant Morrison did his Seven Soldiers project in 2005, picking up on plot threads left behind by Wein, that 1972 story I remembered so vividly was now further back in time than 1945 had been when we were young. Gaaaah!

Kid said...

It could never work. Hee hee.

Steve said...

My lifelong dreams of owning a flying car are now shattered.

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