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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 106

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we finish a two-part look at Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, as appearing in Strange Tales. We finish with the Jim Steranko run!

Steranko began finishing Jack Kirby’s layouts in Strange Tales #151, and it’s interesting to see the mixture of the two art greats…

Starting in Strange Tales #154, Steranko began doing the art himself…

but the biggest change happened in #155, when Steranko began writing the book as well as drawing it (and not even just plotting, but scripting the book, as well!)…

Steranko developed his style more and more as issues went by…

and soon, he was basically the Steranko we think of when we think of Steranko on Nick Fury…

and we even saw Steranko’s Captain America (as Steranko introduced the Contessa)…

Such a brilliant job Steranko did on this title.

If only they had kept it as a half of an anthology, we might have gotten a lot more Steranko greatness!


Once again, in response to absolutely no requests, here are my quick review for the Steranko Nick Fury run in STRANGE TALES. As before, 10 will indicate unparalleled greatness while 1 will indicate mind-numbing awfulness. Be warned, villains will be revealed and plots will be discussed.For those who wish to sample the delights of the Steranko Fury, the whole thing was collected in the NICK FURY, AGENT OF SHIELD trade paperback ($19.95 US).

151: Steranko art over Kirby layouts. Stan Lee does the scripting. Solid debut issue, as Nick Fury goes up against Hydra and their new weapon, the dreaded OVERKIll Horn. Grade: 7

152: More Steranko over Kirby layouts. Nick ends the menace of the OVERKILL horn in approved James Bond style. The Supreme Hydra continues his identity -shifing gimmick, changing from Don Caballero to Emir Ali-Bey (Who, I say who, can he be?).Fun stuff. Grade :7

153: More Steranko art over Kirby layouts. Roy Thomas takes over as the writer from Stan, and does a fine job. The Supreme Hydra changes identities once again, and infilitrates SHIELD as agent Bronson. Super-60s cool. Check out the electro-image distorter art on page 10. Psychadelic man. Grade:7

154:Steranko graduates from Kirby School and does all of the art.And the plot. Roy Thomas does a solid job with the script. Noteworthy bits: Boothroyd’s special arsenal for Fury (Easdropper pen, electronic absorber cufflinks, deadly cigars, repulsor watch, auto-destruct ring, etc), Boothroyd himself (Fun fact: Boothroyd is Q’s real name in the Bond novels: perhaps he is on exchange from the Brits?), the ultra-cool HYDRA DREADNOUGHT. Grade:8

155: Steranko takes complete control, doing both script and art (That must have really burned Jack Kirby up). More Steranko coolness: the heli-carrier’s vortex beam, the aphonic bomb, the Q-ray, HYDRA’S 7-11 (not the mini-store chain) team of assassins, etc. Grade:8

156: So good that you can’t stand it. Steranko gadgets: the spy-ray lens (what if x-ray specs actually worked?), the incendiary disc, the transparency pill (swallow one and you get 60 seconds of invisibility). Steranko Architecture: check out HYDRA ISLAND (no, not the one on LOST).Steranko costome design: Nick gets his famous SHIELD jumpsuit in this one. Also, the true face of the Supreme Hydra is revealed: Baron Strucker (gasp!). Strucker threatens to unleash the DEATH-SPORE on the world. Grade:9

157: More Steranko greatness. Noteworthy bits: the awsome HYDRA plan k-11 (When you outnumber a man 10 to one, don’t attack all at once. That’s amateur hour. Instead, “attack one at a time and exhaust him for the kill!” ). The SHIELD hallucination cube (bad trips, man). Strucker’s Satan Claw. Grade:9

158: The End of HYDRA? ultracool Fury vs. Strucker battle. However, Steranko somewhat overdoes the identity switch bit (Was John Woo a Steranko fan?), and the DEATH-SPORE bomb switchero is a bit out of left-field. Grade: 8

159: Fabulous change of pace issue, as Fury’s old cast (Gabe Jones, Dugan, Sitwell, Laura Brown) depart for a while. More Steranko coolness: Fury’s swinging 60s pad, SHIELD’S spy school (The Bond films never had a such a cool training scene), the intro of the Gaffer and the Contessa Valentina Allegro De Fontaine . Fantastic Captain America vs. Fury fight. Grade: 9

160: Fabulous Captain America/Nick Fury team up issue as they battle a mysterious army that is invading the Statue of Liberty. Shout out to all you AGENTS OF ATLAS fans: Jimmy Woo makes his first appearance since the YELLOW CLAW.Grade: 10

161:Off the charts. Fury/Cap/Reed Richards/ Ben Grimm mash-up. Fabulous fight scenes (check out the the spash page on 9). Bonus, the true cause of the 1965 blackout is revealed. The Yellow Claw steps out of the shadows as the threat (Or is he?). Suwan and Fritz Von Voltzmann are also re-intro’d (Or are they?) Grade: 10

162: Great issue. More Fury vs, Claw intrigue. Take a look at the new car that the Gaffer built for Fury: a Ferrari 330/p4 Berlinetta complete with invisibility option, instant color change, and a standard SHIELD arsenal! In the words of the Gaffer, ‘Wait’ll that guy Bond gets a load’a that Baby!” Grade:8

163: Fun stuff: Fury must contend against both AIM and the Claw in his quest to get the ULTIMATE ANNIHILATOR (How come no one wants a penultimate annihilihator?) Clay Quartermain, in full Burt Lancaster mode, makes his debut. Grade:8

164: More greatness from Steranko as Fury attempts to stop BLACK NOON. Check out the rather dapper gent making a cameo appearance on page 3, panel 5 (Hint; his initials are J B). Magnificent art on page 10, as the Claw’s fortress is revealed. Grade: 9

165: All out action as SHIELD takes on the Claw. Brautiful two-pager on pages 2 and three. Great hand to hand combat between Fury and the Claw. Grade: 10

166: Fury pursues the Claw to his undersea lair. Steranko psychadelia on overdrive. Check out pages 6 and 7. No one does it better. Suwan saves Jimmy Woo, but pays the ultimate price.Grade:10

167:”ARMAGEDDON”: Fury’s final battle against the Claw (or is it?) Perhaps the most mind bending conclusion to any mainstream 60s comic. The unbelievable 4 page spread alone on pages 2 through 5 is worth the price of admission. Guest appearance by Doctor Doom and the Prime Mover, as we learn that the whole SHIELD vs. Claw storyline has been only a game that Doom has been playing for his amusement with the robotic Prime Mover!Seriously, this might be the best non-FF Doom Appearance. Grade:10

168: Fantastic epilogue to the mind-twisting Fury vs. Claw thrillride . Fury must contend with a peaceful alien ambassador (or is he?). Great TWILIGHT ZONE type ending. Grade:10

It doesn’t get much better. Kirby and Steranko defined the high concept character of Marvel’s mature Silver-Age. Can’t disagree with Trajan23’s reviews. It’s all just so good. POP ART indeed!

Good recap guys. Steranko is one of the most underrated talents ever to grace a comic book and his work on Nick Fury and Captain America were high watermarks in Marvel’s history.

It’s weird, I love Kirby’s SHIELD stuff, I love Steranko’s SHIELD stuff, but somehow those excerpts of Steranko doing finishes on Kirby was less than the sum of its parts.

Classic stuff…and I was surprised to note, in the last post on this subject, that the Lee/Kirby stuff is a lot better than I remembered it being. Some of the covers on those issues are mind-blowing.

But Steranko made Fury his own, in this incarnation, and I will always wish he had been inclined to stay the course and develop the intriguing supporting cast (such as Val and “The Gaff”, shown here) he introduced. I’m sure most of you are too young to remember the James Bond-fueled spy movie craze of the mid-60s (heck, I was a preschooler/1st grader myself), but this was easily as good as the genre (if you can call it that) got back then.

That said, even the mighty stumble once in a while…what the heck is that on Fury’s lip in the third panel of the four-panel sequence of the last page posted? It looks like Sgt. Snorkel’s tooth, making an already odd and goofy expression even goofier.

I didn’t care for this run particularly much. I expected psychedelic craziness and got, basically, Marvel superheroes. Oh, well!

It’s weird, I love Kirby’s SHIELD stuff, I love Steranko’s SHIELD stuff, but somehow those excerpts of Steranko doing finishes on Kirby was less than the sum of its parts.


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