Strange Tales #159-162 (August-November 1967)

This sequence of four issues from Nick Fury’s “Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” series in Strange Tales (which he shared with a particularly strange doctor) featured Fury and Captain America as written and drawn by the legendary Jim Steranko, who would do the same for Cap’s own title in early 1969 with issues #110, 111, and 113. There isn’t a lot of ethically relevant material in this issues, other than the general mutual camaraderie and respect Cap and Nick show each other. Even though Cap works well with most everybody, he has a special bond with Nick, given their shared remembrance of World War II—a bond that serves Nick well, given how horribly he often treats his “asset.”

In issue #159, Nick is giving a demonstration for new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits, but the people running the show have a surprise guest in store.

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Note Cap’s thoughts, reflecting admiration for the skills of his longtime friend. (Nick’s personality shines through as well, especially when he goofs up.)

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Nice little dig there about breaking rules, which Cap does on occasion, but always reluctantly.

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Who would have expected Nick to be so agile and acrobatic, as in the left-bottom panel above? (Maybe his last name is really Grayson.)

When Fury collapses (an aftereffect from an earlier adventure), a woman rushes to his aid—and teaches him a lesson about his outdated, sexist attitudes. (Appearing here for the first time, the Contessa would go on to become one of Fury’s longtime love interests.)

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In issue #160, we get to the actual story, most of which is told in flashback and is a fairly standard spy romp starring Nick and Cap. Most notable, from my point of view, is the appearance of Jimmy Woo, star of the 50s Atlas comic Yellow Claw, making his first proper Marvel appearance here, and later one of the stars of the Agents of Atlas comics in the 2000s (and also featuring in the Ant-Man and the Wasp film).

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Of course, Cap offers his help when Nick needs it… especially once he finds out where the trouble is.

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Below is a great example of Steranko’s storytelling skill, as well as Cap and Nick’s mutual trust—the only thing that could explain why Nick didn’t try to take his head off!

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Cap gets knocked out in the ensuing battle, waking to find Fury gone and his buddy Tony passed over for Reed Richards.

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Lucky for Cap, as issue #161 opens, he finds himself falling directly over the very man he was going to see. (And it gives me a chance to showcase some of the Fantastic Four, always welcome faces at this blog.)

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Of course, colliding with the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing at 100 miles-per-hour isn’t exactly “breaking his fall”—you have to wonder if landing on the roof itself would have been better!

Reed knows what he’s talking about when he express confidence in Nick below—the two met during the war, as shown in Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #3.

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Cap gets to Nick just in time to save him from a Houdini trick gone wrong.

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No particular reason for the page shown below, other than it being a great Kirbyseque battle panel from Steranko.

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Finally, Cap appears very little in issue #162, mostly with his good friend Ferrari (not to be confused with his future love interest Connie Ferrari).

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ISSUE DETAILS

Strange Tales (vol. 1) #159, August 1967, “Spy School”: Jim Steranko (writer, pencils, inks), ??? (colors), Jerry Feldman (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Strange Tales (vol. 1) #160, September 1967, “Project: Blackout, Part I”: Jim Steranko (writer, pencils, inks, colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Strange Tales (vol. 1) #161, October 1967, “Project: Blackout, Part II: The Second Doom!”: Jim Steranko (writer, pencils, inks, colors), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Strange Tales (vol. 1) #162, November 1967, “Spy School”: Jim Steranko (writer, pencils, colors), Frank Giacoia (inks), Sam Rosen (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)

Collected in: S.H.I.E.L.D. by Jim Steranko: The Complete Collection, Marvel Masterworks: Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Volume Two


ALSO THESE MONTHS: Tales of Suspense #92-94 (August-October 1967), Tales of Suspense #95 (November 1967), Avengers #43-44 (August-September 1967), Avengers Annual #1 and Avengers #45-46 (September-November 1967)

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