With the premiere of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, one can't help but consider the Silver Age comics version that began with STRANGE TALES #135 (Au'65) in response to the Spy Craze that hit the Sixties. At that time Pop Culture was dominated by the Three Bs (Beatles, Bond and Batman). The success of James Bond on the big screen and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on the little screen inspired Marvel to start their own spy organization dubbed Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division. As they said on the TV show, someone really wanted the name to spell out SHIELD!

To spearhead this group, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby picked a twenty years older Nick Fury from Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos since they already showed that he survived WWII in Fantastic Four #21. Now wearing an eyepatch, the former three-striped brawler was now the head of an international peace keeping army! Over time, other agents were INTRODUCED like former Howlers Dum Dum Duggan and Gabe Jones, the dashing Clay Quartermain, the driven James Woo, the scientific Gaffer, the eager Jasper Sitwell and the Contessa AKA Val, perhaps Marvel's sexiest Silver Age babe!

They fought such menaces as HYDRA, AIM, the Secret Empire, Mentallo and the Fixer and the Yellow Claw (sorta).

SHIELD technically could have been behind the scenes of many a Marvel story, providing support or cleaning up after the various super-heroes who weren't really detail guys!

Anyway, the TV show got me wondering, so....

  • How long did SHIELD exist before Fury took over? The Heliocarrier (more on that later) was already operational as was most of the organization. Was there a Director before Fury?
  • Was SHIELD a secret? Or could it be kept secret considering that the Heliocarrier dominated the New York skyline! SHIELD had their secret headquarters but they also had a public office. Did ordinary people know what SHIELD was?
  • How effective was Fury as a spy? You couldn't mistake him for anyone else and you couldn't help but notice him with the patch and cigar!
  • Why didn't SHIELD recruit any super-powered help?
  • What was Captain America's official standing with SHIELD? Was he an agent or a volunteer?
  • The same could be said about Tony Stark. If he held a position of importance within SHIELD and truly believed in its mission, why wouldn't the agents be as well-armed and as well-protected as Iron Man? Why don't they have jet boots, repulser rays and uni-beams? Was Stark trying to limit his technology on a global scale or was he just selfish?
  • The very first appearance of SHIELD featured multiple Life Model Decoys (LMDs) so the ability to create them was there at the beginning. That just begs the question of how advanced was SHIELD's tech? Who invented all this? Without presumably Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, Hank Pym and the other Marvel geniuses, someone had to be responsible! Nazi scientists, perhaps??
  • The Starks (Howard and Tony) were. Maybe the Original Human Torch's creator, Professor Horton as well?
  • How answerable was SHIELD to the US government or other governments? Who footed all of SHIELD's bills?
  • And who checked and balanced SHIELD? Did they have any legal limitations? Or could they be sent anywhere and do anything they deemed necessary? In other words, who shielded us from SHIELD?

It's hard not to color SHIELD with how we feel about government intrusions and invasions now but we must remember that SHIELD are the good guys and Fury is incorruptible!

Anyway, I have to stop now. I think someone's watching me!

Don't Yield, Back SHIELD!



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I remember seeing that Doom-Chessman surprise ending and thinking exactly what you suggest, Henry. WTF?  "Does this mean the whole adventure has been a fantasy game?"

I never saw the problems of having a flashback telling of "The Big Black-Out". It was the first SHIELD story that I bought off the spinner rack, specifically because it gueststared the FF (well, Reed and Ben, at least) and that was my sole criteria for buying Marvel books at that time.

Thinking back on the Steranko run, I DO recall picking up books of the spinner rack to flip through, as early as #150, because I specifically remember seeing a blonde young man attempt to smoke a cigar and fall back into the arms of two other colorful supporting characters...and so, I realize that I COULD have been there right from the start of Steranko's amazing run, if I only had had a paper route or something to support my "comic habit". But I didn't.  It amazes me when I think of it, that Steranko's run only lasted  two years, and prior to that, Kirby's involvement was only two years MAX...

but as a kid, reading the bullpen page and the letters columns, the praise and hype that was being heaped upon Sternako made it seem as if his work was legendary and had been going on for months upon months... (which it had) back to infinity!

Just off the top of my head...  The "flashback" allegedly takes place 'two years ago".  Nick Fury & Captain America had crossed paths TWICE, ever, up to this point.  The 1st was in SGT. FURY #13 / Dec'64 (Kirby), the 2nd was in TALES OF SUSPENSE #78 / Jun'66 (Kirby).  At the end of "Them", Fury hands Cap a SHIELD badge, so he can contact Fury if he needs to. Fury then goes DIRECTLY into the other 4 parts of the 5-part story involving A.I.M. in STRANGE TALES #146-149 (Jul-Oct'66), which runs concurrent with Cap's battle against The Red Skull (revived by A.I.M.'s "Grand Imperator", who was secretly The Supreme Hydra in disguise) in TALES OF SUSPENSE #79-81 (Jul'Sep'66).  There is NO break, and the only place "Project Blackout" could possible occur is in between TOS #78 and ST #146, which, if you read those episodes back-to-back, trying to fit an entire side-adventure in there, is RIDICULOUS.

But there's more.  In "Project Blackout", the ESP Division is attacked and destroyed. It's shown being rebuilt shortly after.  Further, Fury is seen wearing a JUMPSUIT, of the kind he had NEVER worn before he single-handedly went to Hydra Island.  Also, the jumpsuit is a bright orange, which was the color worn later by Clay Quartermain, while Fury's jumpsuit was black.  Also, Fury's jumpsuit is shown to be insulated against high-voltage electricity-- when the one he wore on Hydra Island WASN'T. And finally, the ONLY reference to the Dec'65 NYC blackout in the ENTIRE story is ONE panel at the climax, and it's not shown in any way in the art-- only in a SINGLE block of narration.  Taken all together, that's just too much. It's clear the story was not written as a flashback at all, but meant to take place RIGHT AFTER the events in "Spy School" (ST #159  / Aug'67).

Again, all these continuity problems can be explained-- but the effort required to do so is absurd in the extreme.  All to support ONE box of narration, for the sake of pointlessly trying to tie it in to a real-life event 2 years earlier, which isn't even properly set up or connected to the events in the story being told.

This is EXACTLY the kind of nonsense the editor loved to pull, more and more as the 60's went on.

Someone posted this photo on FB and I thought it might be appropriate for a SHIELD discussion.

By the way, I was looking at the Captain America Winter Soldier page on IMDB and it seems that Jasper Sitwell makes an appearance in the movie. No one else though unfortunately.

Speaking of which, it's a pity that they didn't use Val, Clay and the Gaffer in the tv series. Or even Jimmy Woo for that matter. It would have been nice if they gave Jim Sterenko something more to be thanked for. :)


A running gag I didn't get the first time around was, while Nick Fury in some ways is based on his creator (Jack Kirby), Jasper Sitwell is a dead ringer for Roy Thomas. His appearance is exactly what Roy looked like when he first started at Marvel, and Roy is known for using way too many words.  (The one time I met him at a convention, I asked him a simple question, and he gave me a 5-minute answer!)

Speaking about Dun-Dun, did we ever see more of him with Dominic Fortune beyond that Marvel Premiere issue?

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