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CSBG Archive

Drawing Crazy Patterns – S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents Become Super-Villains!

In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Here is an archive of all the patterns we’ve spotlighted so far.

This time around, we’ll take a look at how S.H.I.E.L.D. just can’t seem to keep their various agents from becoming super-villains!

First up, from 1965′s Strange Tales #141, we have Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia introduce us to Mentallo…

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The same story introduces Mentallo’s longtime partner in crime, the Fixer, in a stunning sequence demonstrating his skills…

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I think you’re overselling Mentallo’s skills a little bit there, Nick.

A few years back, I featured a story in the first issue of Strange Tales that depicts a scientist devolving to a gorilla. I noted at the time that I didn’t know who the writer of the story was, but the odds seem more likely that it was Stan Lee after reading 1970′s Captain America #135 by Lee, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer, which introduces a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist by the name of Erik Gordo, who ends up transforming himself into a gorilla…

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He then robs banks (he apparently can also control the minds of other animals)…

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He nearly kills Captain America during a S.H.I.E.L.D. operation to dig down into the Earth’s crust. They both fall into the hole that S.H.I.E.L.D. was digging and while there he almost tricks the Mole Man into declaring war on the surface world by claiming that Cap is there as a spy (in the end, Gordo sacrifices himself to stop Mole Man’s invasion when he realizes that the girl he was hung up on would be injured in Mole Man’s attack).

Next up we have Gargantua, who debuted in 1983′s The New Defenders #126 by J.M. DeMatteis and Alan Kuppeberg. In the issue, an area where some S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists had gone sort of nuts with a project has suddenly gone from being secure to being, well, less than secure…

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As it turns out, it was signaling the release of a former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist who had gone nuts and turned into a giant beast known as the Leviathan…

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A few years later, in Avengers Spotlight #28, he got his current codename, Gargantua…

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In 1985′s Spectacular Spider-Man #110, the conclusion of The Death of Jean DeWolff, by Peter David, Rick Buckler and Joe Rubinstein, we finally see the Sin-Eater (DeWolff’s killer) unmasked (we learned who he was the previous issue)…

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He’s a cop who was working the case earlier in the storyline.

We learn later in the issue, though, that Stan was a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was experimented on, and that might have been what drove him to become the Sin-Eater…

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Finally, let’s turn to Captain America’s ongoing series that began when the Heroes Returned (after the short-lived Heroes Reborn reboot). In 1999′s Captain America #20, Mark Waid, Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang first mentioned David Ferrari as the dead older brother of Steve Rogers’ latest love interest, the lawyer Connie Ferrari…

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Over twenty issues later, the next writer, Dan Jurgens, reveals that David actually faked his death (in an issue drawn by Jurgens and Bob Layton)…

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A couple of issue later, Ferrari, now going by the name The Answer, brainwashes Nick Fury and captures Captain America (in an issue guest-penciled by Dave Ross)…

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That’s it for this week! Note that there are plenty of other examples of this. These are just the five that I chose. There are others I could have chosen.

If you have a suggestion for Drawing Crazy Patterns, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

30 Comments

First time I ever read anything involving Mentallo was an old Marvel RPG supplement from the mid-80′s. I’ve always found it amusing that in the decades since he’s never really been considered a memorable character. In fact I think the pages up top are the only actual comic pages I’ve ever seen. Kind of a shame, that’s a weirdly cool helmet.

According to some of the wiki stuff, wouldn’t Taskmaster fit this subject as well? As you say you only chose five of many, I guess he’d be the biggest.

Hail Hydra!

To be fair to Nick, Mentallo IS pretty dangerous. Professor Power tried to use him in a scheme to kill the entire population of the Soviet Union and he succeeded in taking control of every mind in the planet for about five seconds in an Iron Man/Captain America Annual.

So David Ferrari wasn’t a victim of the lethal homophobia endemic in the US military at all… just a lying, crazy Commie! Smdh.

With so many bad seeds coming out of the shield organization you would think they would of been disbanded in the comics like they’ve done in the movies.

Sorry if I am being too judgemental, but are you sure that Connie used to date her own brother?

it was a different time, luis. injecting pcp into spys what could go wrong?

Luis, Connie & David had both been big Star Wars fans when they were growing up. They were trying to re-enact a couple of scenes, went a little off-script and one thing kind of led to another…

Other typo to fix: Dr. Gorbo, not Gordo.

Was this column’s subject inspired by the recent Iron Nail and Dr Mind-Bubble story in Captain America?

Was Blue Streak a SHIELD agent? That would make eight (maybe nine, depending on the Taskmaster answer).

Ah, so many SHIELD agents have gone bad over the years. My personal favorite is Carl Delandan, head of SHIELD’s New York office (MARVEL TEAM UP 95). He debuted in the same issue in which Bobbie Morse unveiled her Mockingbird identity (prior to that, she went by Huntress). What gives him the nod? Guy used Baron von Strucker’s Satan Claw. A bad guy using the Satan Claw just makes any story cool. Call it the Steranko effect.

“With so many bad seeds coming out of the shield organization you would think they would of been disbanded in the comics like they’ve done in the movies.”
They were once. Nick and Dum Dum went into retirement and Nick only came out of retirement after Dum Dum was seemingly killed by aliens (which makes the latest revelation in Original Sins kind of odd).

I posit a subject for drawing crazy patterns: The first time X-Men style costumes were used. You know, the ones where there is a big stripe in the middle in a contrasting colour from the rest. Everybody seems to have such a costume, from heroes to villains. And second, the first costume with V/chevron shapes on it

As sooin as I saw the title of this entry, I thought to myself “This is going to be a looooooong one.” I think Brian would have saved a lot of time if he had just listed the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who did NOT go bad :)

A personal favorite subversion of this trope is Jimmy Woo, who took over Atlas – a fairly villainous organization – and then started posing as a villain to counter Norman Osborn, a villain posing as a hero.

I miss Atlas.

@Cullen

No. His homosexual and decadent style of life lead him to choose Communism! That’s why you must always vote for Republicans!

I wonder if SHIELD’s admission test contain the option of “ONCE YOU ENTER SHIELD, WILL YOU BECOME A SUPERVILLAIN?”

I used to love SHIELD, before they became the metaphor for every corruption within government or the military. I used to love the swashbuckling Steranko stories, with SHIELD agents swinging across grappling lines to attack floating fortresses (with jetpack back-up troops) and platoons of agents charging the Hordes of HYDRA. Man that was fun! Then everything was about lying and corruption. Want somebody attempting a hostile takeover of Stark International? SHIELD! Need a corrupt government agent? Make it a SHIELD agent, not the CIA or FBI (or whatever). Remember all those noble SHIELD agents? Whoops, they are actually artificial duplicates who are part of a grand conspiracy withing SHIELD. Is Nick Fury a war hero who calls it like he sees it or a Machiavellian manipulator of friend and foe? Bah! Give me battles in HYDRA Island, Satan Claws, Overkill Horns, and rooting out the Yellow Claw any day! While you are at it, throw in a little Scorpio!

The above is true of James Bond. I miss the days of commando attacks on SPECTRE hideouts, a meglomaniacal supervillains.

Also see: the SHIELD Super-Agents

The spy genre as a whole has turned towards moral murkiness and antiheroic, even villainous protagonists for the fairly simple reason that the general public have a much more cynical — and in some respects, realistic — view of what government agencies get up to under cover of secrecy.

Ah, but see, that’s the point of super-spies; they are beyond that kind of thing. They are the superheroes of the espionage world. The real issue was that it got old pretty fast. It was shocking once, then it turned into a cliche. By the time of Nick Fury vs SHIELD, it got old (not to mention that Fury’s new block of agents didn’t have near the personality of the original bunch). It’s kind of why I found the Agents of SHIELD tv series to kind of dull (apart from the lackluster threats).

Wasn’t the Nick Fury vs SHIELD Mini-series this taken to 11

Original Sin is basically Nick Fury himself being revealed as a super-villain, or at least something very close to one.

Anyone remember the Vamp/Animus?

Oh, yeah; from the SHIELD Super-Agents. That idea didn’t last long.

They came up with another SHIELD Super-Agents that in a truly shocking twist also wound up going evil.

@Vin: I sure do. To this day I feel that Veda, not Vamp, was meant to be Animus.

Per Original Sin, wouldn’t that “brainwashed” Nick Fury be a Life Model Decoy?

Ah, the Super-Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D! With a turncoat rate of 62% in their first two waves!

@ Luis: I’m with you on that.

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