By: Henry Hanks, Contributor @hankstv / firstname.lastname@example.org
*Spoilers for season 5 of "AOS" follow below.*
“Agents of SHIELD” (or S.H.I.E.L.D., aka Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) is now in its fifth season on ABC, and fans are saying it’s one of the best seasons yet, with the series taking place in space with the Kree aliens.
However, SHIELD goes back many years before Agent Coulson was first introduced ten years ago in the first “Iron Man” movie.
Decades before Samuel L. Jackson portrayed him in the Marvel cinematic universe, Nick Fury was Sgt. Fury, leader of the “Howling Commandos.” In 1965, he became Marvel’s answer to James Bond, an “agent of SHIELD,” in “Strange Tales” #135.
As was true of many Marvel titles, Jack Kirby was the artist for the earliest Nick Fury adventures, but within two years, Jim Steranko was both writing and penciling the feature.
Steranko gave the series an up-to-date psychedelic, almost surrealist look in the late 1960s, and his work on the series is seen as a highlight of Marvel’s Silver Age to this day.
In 1968, Steranko worked on four of the first five issues of the “Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD” ongoing series, which unfortunately only lasted 15 issues.
SHIELD, the secretive government entity (not to mention its archenemy, Hydra), would continue to be a “character” in the Marvel universe for the next 20 years, but wouldn’t be featured (with Fury) until a miniseries in 1988, which spun off a more successful ongoing title that lasted 47 issues.
In the ensuing years, Nick Fury and SHIELD would continue to pop up throughout Marvel comics, with the occasional miniseries or one-shot.
2015 saw the 50th anniversary of SHIELD, with more one-shots including Fury and fellow agents Peggy Carter, Mockingbird and more (all of whom have been part of “Agents of SHIELD” or the much-beloved, shortlived “Agent Carter” TV series in recent years).
Coulson, Agent May, Fitz-Simmons and their fellow agents from the TV series have since had two ongoing series, “SHIELD” and “Agents of SHIELD” since 2014 (there was another spinoff series called “Howling Commandos of SHIELD”), though all have since been canceled.
Nevertheless, the characters introduced in film and TV are now part of the Marvel Comics universe, and one expects we haven’t heard the last of them or Nick Fury.