Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #2-7 (1968)

Jim Steranko stops doing the stories and interiors with #5, and does his last cover with #7.  It’s a huge loss for the series.  We get a black villain (future Thunderbolt Centurius), an Asian SHIELD member (Jimmy Woo), and a horror-comic version of a spy comic.  Seriously.  The amount of creativity in just five comics (#1-3 and #5, because #4 was a fill-in by future creative team Roy Thomas and Frank Springer).

But as brilliant as the art was, the stories were a tangled mess.  I can’t understand what’s going on most of the time.  It didn’t matter, because the visuals drove the tale—it is basically a comic book LSD trip. 

But as soon as Steranko leaves, it all falls apart.

Frank Springer does his best to imitate Steranko at first, like in the splash page above, but he’s just a very different kind of artist.  Springer’s best work is cartoony, like this scene where Fury gets hit by a car:

“Splat.”  Yes. 

And Roy Thomas’ scripts are just not good.  I know he’s a legend and all, but a lot of his work in the 1960s is pretty much unreadable.

Archie Goodwin comes along with #7 and literally sends Nick Fury on an acid trip, a clear homage to the large number of college students who had resonated with Jim Steranko’s work.

The title ends with #11, and those last three issues are just terrible.  But they were published in 1969, so I’m going to break off here and torture myself when I get up to 1969 in my chronological readings.

Creators: Jim Steranko, except for #s 4 and 6, which are Roy Thomas and Frank Springer, and #7, which is Archie Goodwin and Springer.

First appearance: Future Thunderbolts team member Centurius (#2); Jimmy Woo (#3)

Grade: B (Steranko issues); C (#4, 6); C+ (#7).


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