New Reviews of Old Comics
Full confession. I started and stopped reading this comic five or six times before I finally read it all the way through. I’m not really sure why I initially found this an arduous read, it just was. I like Nick Fury as a character; the whole premise of SHIELD is very interesting and since this issue reprints stories from three issues of Strange Tales from 1964 these are classic Lee/Kirby comics. This should be right up my alley.
The first part is a 12 page story reprinted from Strange Tales #142 called “Who Strikes At…SHIELD?” by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It starts off with SHIELD technicians testing a new battle robot that goes awry. This little montage has nothing to do with the overall story, except to set up Colonel Fury speaking to another lab rat who is in charge of three hyper-sensitive people who are helping to track down Mentallo using their brainwaves. The description sounds a heck of a lot like remote viewing to me. Mentallo has joined forces with The Fixer to take over SHIELD, which because of their combined powers seems to Fury like a real possibility. The villainous (kind of) sneak attack is successful and the story ends with Fury becoming Mentallo and The Fixer’s mental slave after they place a special mask over his head.
Thankfully the next story is from Strange Tales #143 so we’re not left wondering what happens next for very long. “To Free a Brain Slave,” another 12 page Lee and Kirby story, picks up with Fury as a mental captive, Dum Dum (from the Howling Commandos) unable to rescue him and feeling pretty frustrated about it. Special guest Tony Stark is helping SHIELD to build a neutralizing weapon, not to take out Mentallo, but for something more ominous that Stark is unwilling to talk about. The remote viewers have lost their contact leaving SHIELD in the dark. Fury is attached to an H-Bomb and has his helmet removed, which gives him just enough “juice” to contact the remote viewers. This is where Stark’s special weapon takes out the H-Bomb, and this leads to a final battle between SHIELD and the evil duo.
Lastly we have yet another 12 page story reprinted from Strange Tales (#144) called “The Day of the Druid!” (finally a title that ends with an exclamation point). This Lee/Kirby yarn has almost nothing to do with the previous two stories, except it starts where the last issue ended. Essentially Fury and one of his men are being hounded by an “Egg of Satan” that is conjured up by The Druid, a bad guy who has a beef with Fury and SHIELD. This leads to a bit of car chase sequence and a short fire fight with Fury and Dum Dum against the Egg of Satan. The last two and a half pages are a new SHIELD recruit trying to gain access to HQ through the barber shop front with little success.
Once I was able to get past the first eight or nine pages I found this to be a very enjoyable comic, even if I found Fury’s slang dialogue to be an unfortunate distraction (“Didja see that?” “Hold yer fire,” “Too phony ta be true” etc). Considering this was 1964 I was really intrigued by the remote viewer aspect of the story, and the action elements were well done, as one would expect from Lee and Kirby. When this was originally published in 1971 the comic must have been almost square bound instead of saddle stapled, because it is unfortunately falling apart along the seam. As always, for me it’s about the story, not the condition of the comic and this was a refreshing difference from the standard super-hero fare we typically find in most older comics. Yeah, the bad guys had super powers, but it is Fury’s grit and determination (along with some fancy weapons and friends) that save the day. A couple weeks ago I would have been hard pressed to say I pick up another comic reprinting old Nick Fury stories, but having finished and thoroughly enjoying this issue I’ll pick up as many Stan Lee scribed Fury stories as I can find.