Silver Surfer #16-17

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Let’s remember what we know about Silver Surfer so far. He’s a cosmic powered alien who is imprisoned on Earth against his weill. He’s madly in love with a woman on the other side of the universe. Mephisto, the devil incarnate, not only fears him but wants to control his power. So in these two issues Mephisto uses Shall Bal as incentive to coerce the Silver Surfer into destroying S.H.I.E.L.D.

Yes you read that. The maniacal lord of the underworld wants the paramilitary organization taken out, most likely to make it easier for him to take over the world at some point. To get this done, he promises Silver Surfer he won’t eternally damn Shalla Bal in exchange for the Surfer destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. The best part of this is that Mephisto is lurking around in a trench coat and fedora looking completely ridiculous.

Anyway Surfer begrudgingly accepts and attacks S.H.I.E.L.D. I get the point and all, but it’s so odd to see a story that involves the Silver Surfer, Mephisto and Nick Fury. Eventually Surfer finds out that Mephisto plans on going back on his word and the two wind up fighting. It’s revealed that the Silver Surfer is indeed much more powerful than anyone ever imagined and after thoroughly beating up poor Mephisto, he gets jettisoned into space. And for those wondering, Shalla Bal winds up alright, as since both Mephisto and Silver Surfer reneged on their deals it pretty much cancels everything.

These issues were John Buscema’s last work on the series, and he certainly stepped up his art a lot. I think that from an artistic perspective, they might have been my favorite issues of the series. Stan Lee sticks around for the next issue and is joined by a certain king of an artist.

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Friday Fights # 22: Nick Fury vs. Cobra Commander

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After taking most of the week off to feeling ill, it’s time for Friday Fights! One of the things I wondered about during my “lay on the couch because I have a cold” time, I wondered who would win in a fight:  Nick Fury or Cobra Commander.

The obvious answer is Fury, since he’s a veteran of pretty much everything, thanks to him not aging. He has enhances physical capabilities as well as has received every sort of combat, military strategy and espionage training known to man. Fury is also adept at all kinds of weaponry.

So that said, what chance does Cobra Commander have?

Whether its the cartoons or comics, the Commander is always shown to be a bit of a wimp. He doesn’t like to get his hands dirty and usually relies on the help of his subordinates when in a fight. So needless to say, chances are this isn’t going to be a fair fight.

Cobra Commander also isn’t the best trained hand to hand combatant  again he usually has someone else around to fight on his behalf. He is a master of escape.That said, I think Cobra Commander would narrowly escape Nick Fury. He would be in one of the Cobra “Trouble Bubbles” en route to his next safe house before Fury knew it.

So I’ll give this one a tie. Fury will always win the fight, but Cobra Commander will always escape.

Mighty Fine Agent Coulson of SHIELD Shirts!

It’s no secret that the break-out characters of the Marvel Avengers franchise was SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson. He stole every scene he was in through six movies. Even though he might be dead (but alive in comics continuity), Coulson is still popular.

Marvel and Mighty Fine have a line of Coulson inspired t-shirts! You can view all five shirts in the line here. My favorite is the one pictured, which lovingly pays tribute to Jim Steranko’s cover for Nick Fury: Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4.

 

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1-4

I guess I still have a case of Avengers fever. Since the movie Hawkeye was based on the Ultimate version I decided to give Ultimate Comics Hawkeye a read.

Johnathan Hickman uses the mini series to not only set up future story lines, but as a way to show how much the title carrier is Nick Fury’s operative of choice, recounting their first meeting.

Hawkeye is sent into the war-torn South Eastern Asian Republic, only to find out that the country has released  a biological weapon to exterminate the world’s mutant population.The SEAR also developed  a serum to create their own army of meta humans allowing them to have the upper hand in future military conflicts.

Unfortunately for them, these lab-created meta-humans have revolted, lead by the Ultimate versions of Xorn and Zorn (who respectively lead their own groups called the Celestials and Eternals). It’s up to Hawkeye to get the serum that created Xorn, Zorn and company before they get out of control.

There was just something about this story that was off. I thought it would be more of a black ops type story, but it veered too into the Xorn/Zorn/Celestials/Eternals. It wasn’t that it was poorly executed, it really wasn’t what I was expecting.

On the other hand, Rafa Sandoval’s art was great. I’ve never read anything that he was on, and I must say I was impressed.

Marvel Blurs The Lines Between Film and Comics

We have all been used to watching comics influencing film, but now film is influencing comics continuity. Agent Coulson and the Samuel L. Jackson portrayal of Nick Fury (well sort of) have crossed over into the print world. So how did it happen?

The African-American version of Nick Fury goes back to Marvel’s re-imagined Ultimate universe in 2001, ultimately becoming based on Jackson in time for Mark Millar and Brian Hitch’s awesome Ultimates stories.

When they decided to introduce Nick Fury into the cinematic Marvel Universe, it was natural that Jackson would be playing the role of everyone’s favorite SHIELD director, much to the delight of everyone.

So how did the traditional Marvel Universe wind up with a black Nick Fury?

As a spin-off from the Fear Itself storyline, Battle Scars chronicles the adventures of Army ranger Marcus Johnson setting off to find the Nick Fury hating villain Orion from the Secret Warriors series who had killed his mother. This was an elaborate plot by the villain to lure out Marcus in an attempt to get his blood, which contains the same Infinity Formula that keeps Fury young.

By the end of Battle Scars, Marcus loses an eye and shaves his head to look like Samuel L. Jackson, dons Steve Rogers’ director of SHIELD costume he had while Bucky was Captain America and finds out the reason he has the Infinity Formula in his system–his mother was a spy, Fury is his father and his real name is Nick Fury Jr. Oh yeah, and his friend Coulson and him both wind up joining his father’s family business as agents of SHIELD!

So what do I think about this?

Well, I’m all for Agent Coulson being properly brought into the Marvel Universe. I love how they’ve been using Maria Hill and Viktoria Hand the last few years as non-super heroes working alongside their powered counterparts. If they keep him like the way Clark Gregg has portrayed him in the Marvel films, this will be awesome.

As for Marcus, I’m still having mixed thoughts about the execution of the character. I like how this adds an extra part to the Nick Fury mythology. He’s been around since World War II, so having him have a long-lost (more so neglected) son come into his life is an interesting dynamic. Him following into his parents’ career path makes sense.

The one thing that I’m not sold on is how they’ve made him look exactly like the Ultimate and movie versions of Nick Fury. It seems like it’s a huge burden in developing this character, as he’s going to be constantly compared to the other characters. I would have much rather enjoyed them calling him Marcus Fury and allowing the character to have its own identity, not to mention his own look not based on Samuel L. Jackson. They can keep the eye patch; there’s a certain humor that every Fury man winds up losing an eye.

Will they make Marcus replace his father as Nick Fury in the comics? Who knows. At the very least, I would love to see David Hasselhoff make a cameo as Fury’s father in one of the movies!

Avengers 1959 #1

Art by Howard Chaykin

What happens when you combine Howard Chaykin, some lesser known Marvel characters and a retro-1950s espionage spy story?

Other than something that I would buy, you have Avengers 1959. The first issue was epic fun and in a way is kind of like a Mad Men view of the earliest incarnation of the Avengers.

That said the story takes place over a decade after the team’s first meet up in World War II. This was previously shown in flashbacks in New Avengers. 

After Namora, Kraven, Sabretooth and Dominic Fortune all narrowly escape attempts on their lives, Nick Fury decides its time to get the band back together again.

In their last outing, they tangled with the Red Skull and the Nazis, so I’m assuming this miniseries will have them facing Hydra, the logical successor.

Art and story wise, Chaykin delivers. His art is gritty and pulpy, which only fits a story from this time period, and Jesus Aburtov’s colors only accentuate this. Story wise, this is typical Chaykin. Crazy violence? Check. Tough sexy women are all over the place, whether it be Phantom Blonde who is using her seductiveness to get to war criminal Dieter Skul, or the assassin posing as a hooker who nearly offed Nick Fury.

There’s also a really uncomfortable-but-funny scene involving the Chaykin created character Dominic Fortune while he’s trying to introduce a female companion to the mile high club. Their plane comes under attack, so Fortune does what James Bond do in a situation like that:  he gives her a parachute and tells her to jump out of the plane! We don’t know what happened to the woman, but I’m pretty sure she’s not going to be interested in a second date.

Absurdity aside, this is a lot of fun getting to see Chaykin doing a project like this. It’s a great introduction into his world and style, especially if you’ve never read anything of his before.

Captain America: America First

Captain America: America First is a collection of three separate Cap one-shot issues, each featuring a different creative team and unique story theme. So how did it do?

The first story is “Operation Zero Point” by Daniel and Charles Knauf with art from Mitch Bretweiser. This story is fairly straight forward, with Cap being sent to take out the Nazi’s new flying-saucer inspired aircraft. Along the way, Cap gets captured by a Nazi cyborg and attempts to rescue himself and the Jewish physicist who was forced into creating the flying death machines. Bretweiser’s art is phenomenal in this story, looking very realistic.

This is followed up with “Prisoners of Duty” by writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel (who brought us the short film The League) with art by Agustin Adilla. Steve Rogers is kidnapped and placed into a Nazi prisoners camp, having to find a way to liberate the other American POWs and himself. Along the way he meets a German nurse who has been forced into working there.

The best of the lot concludes this volume, with a tale by Howard Chaykin featuring Captain America in the 1950s. Wait a minute, wasn’t Captain America frozen after World War II? Yes. Marvel has explained that the comics featuring Cap in the 1950s (where he traded in fighting Nazis for communist spies and Soviet agents) are the stories of William Burnside, who took up the mantle during the 1950s.

Along side a young Nick Fury, this Captain is trying to get to the bottom of Soviet activity in America, all the while facing an overzealous Joseph McCarthy-esque Senator who is trying to turn the public.

Chaykin does a great job with this story; the ending is a bit of a swerve. Him writing about this time period is a perfect fit for his art style; it makes me all the more excited for Retro Avengers.

Splash Page Saturday #3

Captain America 113 by Jim Steranko

Captain America 113 by Jim Steranko

Keeping with the theme of Independence Day, this wee’s splash page comes Captain America #113 by Jim Steranko. It’s a really kinetic double page spread, with Cap fighting off a bunch of Hydra agents who are seemingly digging up Nick Fury and the Vision.

There’s a whole lot going on in this page in the malaise. There are Hydra goons flying everywhere. Look at the headstones in the back that are getting smashed. On the right side of the panel, Sterano uses the shadowy back of a tombstone as a text box. Very Eisner-esque.

And get a load of those guns! They look straight out of a Fourth World story!