Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

I just put down the most awesome graphic novel -- "Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D." (hence the title of the post). This is a collection of a six issue miniseries that came out in 1989 from Marvel Comics featuring resident spymaster Fury, a Bond-ish creation hailing from the wooly 1960s foundry of Stan Lee's imagination. The premise is familiar -- the mole-hunt, a trope customary to spymastery. Fury's super-secret spy organization, S.H.I.E.L.D., is infiltrated by enemy agents who subvert it from within and turn the body against Fury (hence, the "vs." part).

The story is by longtime Marvel stablehand Bob Harras, who was, at one point, Marvel's longest tenured editor of the "X-Men" franchise and all around nice guy (he was kind to interns in 1995). His script is full of big turns and retro dialogue, but within the framework of this retro story it sparkles. Fury's voice is always clear -- after all this time, he's still Nicky from the Block, even if he's the director of an organization badder and bigger than the C.I.A., Mossad, and K.G.B., combined.

The art is a real treat -- Brit Paul Neary, a penciler we don't see very much of nowadays (nor then either, come to think of it), whos linework (with inks by Kim DeMulder) is very much a tribute to the idiom of Jim Steranko, to whom this character owes everything. The jaws are square, the breasts are large, the spysuits are skintight, and technology is postmod. Figure in a painted cover by Steranko hisself and how can you not drop down twenty-four ninety-five, hard-earned.

Nostalgia alert -- this was the first Marvel Comic graphic novel I ever bought back in the 80s.