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'm pretty sure that Tony Stark was originally the creator of most of SHIELD's weaponry & such, as it was only after enough real time had passed that Howard Stark got promoted from being a wealthy munitions maker who left the business to his super-genius son to an inventive genius in his own right, since Tony was no longer old enough to have have created tech in the 1960's.  The LMDs are a good question, tho, as they don't seem mechanical enough to be in Tony's wheelhouse.  Marvel's android tech always confuses me, since the single most sophisticated and life-like android, the Human Torch, was created by an apparently (then) Present-Day human in 1939, and as time went on (even into the future, with the androids used by Kang et al) later models kept getting progressively less human and more robotic

And Tony didn't have a flying car nor did he use LMDs, and he really needed them at times!

Other than the movie appearances and whatever I've read in fan discussions, I haven't read any SHIELD stories since the Silver Age. This discussion (posted in the Mr. Silver Age forum) seems to be referencing a lot of retcons. I only remember Fury's interaction with Captain America in WWII and with Reed Richards in WWII and the single FF issue, when Fury worked for the CIA. Back then, IIRC, there was no interaction with Tony Stark and I don't remember Howard Stark at all. I believe Tony was presented as the founder of Stark Industries, not its inheritor. Also, the tone was different in the Silver Age. The CIA and SHIELD were not considered enemies of liberty, but defenders of it. When SHIELD was first referenced in Strange Tales #135, it may be that they created a fictional agency because there was some backlash against the CIA in their college audience or they may have created it for artistic freedom. I think the helicarrier was shielded from view by artificial clouds and obscured from RADAR. The RADAR invisibility wouldn't be a problem over Manhattan, which I believe even then was not on the flight path of airliners. 

I was recently reading through some early issues of Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD so I can potentially answer a handful of these:

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?

Long enough to build the first Helicarrier. I don't believe there was an active director, however.

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?

Initially SHIELD was secret. I can't tell you when they were revealed to the public.

Why didn't SHIELD recruit any super-powered help?

They would have welcomed such help.  They didn't recruit him per se, but Captain America was officially an agent when it suited the creative team.  They did recruit in the Bronze Age, as both the Texas Twister and Marvel Boy/Man were members.

What was Captain America's official standing with SHIELD? Was he an agent or a volunteer?

Like I stated earlier, it depended on what the creative team needed. Sometimes he was an active agent, sometimes he'd get pulled in depending on need.  Sometimes this p.o.'d the Captain big time, sometimes he welcomed it.

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?

In the Silver Age Stark mainly created tech for the Army.  As to why he didn't outfit the military with the same weaponry as Iron Man, I can think of three reasons why:

* The cost of outfitting even a platoon of soldiers with Iron Man armor and then maintenance would have been staggering.

* The more those weapons are out in the public, the easier they are to steal.

* He did want to keep them for himself, to keep an advantage.

I recomend the 'SHIELD Architects of Tomorrow' trade - for the 'history' of SHIELD !!!

As I recall, the LMDs were present from the very first installment.

Second, Tony Stark was there in the initial issues of Strange tales #135-140 or so, as Armorer.... and it is implied that he's their "Q" for weapons.

I don't blame him for keeping the armor of Iron Man to himself. In his own strip in TOS, he's pressured by Senator Byrd to testify to the secrets of the armor and who Iron Man is, and why the US can't have the tech.  As we learn, Tony is upset when he learns the tech has leaked to Armor Wars....

And Tony DOES have LMDs to help/hinder him...in about Iron Man #18, it comes to light in a disastrous "rogue LMD" storyline that climaxes in a fight between the old armor and new armor.


Also, cap begins to apply for membership in SHIELD as early as Avengers #17 or so, and his letter goes awry. Also, when Nick Fury DOES invite Cap to visit, he's assassinated in the Barber Shop in front of Cap, and Cap then avenges him, and finally discovers that it was an LMD that died. Fury shakes cap's hand and slips him a SHIELD priority/ID badge, and it is implied that from there out, Cap is an undercover SHIELD agent. This is about TOS #78 or so.

He's occasionally called upon, sometimes with Fury and sometimes without.

It wasn't  until Watergate, and younger writers taking control, that SHIELD began to be cast in a negative light...and some doubt whether they can always be trusted to do the "right" thing... or if they have been corrupted, or be corrupting.

Kirk G said:

Second, Tony Stark was there in the initial issues of Strange tales #135-140 or so, as Armorer.... and it is implied that he's their "Q" for weapons.

Also, cap begins to apply for membership in SHIELD as early as Avengers #17 or so, and his letter goes awry. Also, when Nick Fury DOES invite Cap to visit, he's assassinated in the Barber Shop in front of Cap, and Cap then avenges him, and finally discovers that it was an LMD that died. Fury shakes cap's hand and slips him a SHIELD priority/ID badge, and it is implied that from there out, Cap is an undercover SHIELD agent. This is about TOS #78 or so.

Boy, my memory of those books is worse than I thought. Thanks for clarifying it.

Richard, I can't cite chapter and verse, but I do recall at least one cameo by Tony Stark as he "passes judgement" on "the new man" Nick Fury.  He's present in the helicarrier as he's delivering some armorment or weapon or something. Perhaps, he's the one who offers Fury the job as Director, based upon an assassination attempt that occurs in the first installment.

I just don't recall where this falls, but as a very young Marvel reader, it took me a pass or two over these earliest SHIELD books to catch that it was TONY STARK, the very same  one that I was seeing drawn so well by Gene Colan over in Tales of Suspense.   So, it registered, but not enough for me to memorize the passages.

I just glanced at the GCD and find though I got the first meeting of Cap and Fury in TOS #78 right, plus the slipping of the priority badge to him, I confused the storyline with an appearance a year later in TOS #92, with the LMD in the barbershop.  Oh well... 

 

Also, as a we small lad, I would stop into the druggist store (Pharmacy) on my way home via foot from Saturday morning bowling league and skim the spinner rack. What I recall from that school boy skimming is several of the initial Spider-Man stories (I recall the covers) and flipping through Strange tales, and seeing the odd Hydra division rotary  phone-dial image with a blonde lady giving the Hail Hydra speech.  It was all beyond me, and I put the issues back on the rack, having no money to spend at all.  OMG, if I had only started buying a few of these books, I could have started a couple of years sooner and been right there for the glory years of Stan, jack, Steve, and the whole Marvel Universe!

I don't see this answered anywhere, but Fury wasn't the first director. He asked at some point what happened to the old director, and the answer was that he was assassinated (probably by Hydra). And there were several attempts on Fury's life in the first issue (Strange Tales #135). That was fleshed out later, but I'll be darned if I can remember where.

By the time I had the time to address some of your questions, Philip, several of the other fellows chimed in with many of the answers.  Since I wasn't a big follower of the "Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." series, I had to do some research this morning in order to dot some "I's" and cross some "T's" of the essentially correct info provided you already.

 

Plus, I was able to extrapolate some educated guesses for some of your more open-ended posers.

 

And, as always, the usual disclaimer that my info pertains only to the Silver-Age era of S.H.I.E.L.D.  So much stuff has come out in the intervening fifty years and I have little awareness of any of it.

 

 

"How long did SHIELD exist before Fury took over? The Heli-Carrier (more on that later) was already operational as was most of the organization. Was there a Director before Fury?"

 

As Randy Jackson suggested, S.H.I.E.L.D. must have reached operational stage prior to Strange Tales # 135 (Aug., 1965).  Its infrastructure was in place; there were already field agents actively undertaking their duties; undercover men were already insinuated into their assumed rôles.

 

Such an elaborate enterprise just doesn't spring into existence overnight, which raises the question:  who oversaw the establishment of S.H.I.E.L.D. (in government parlance, the Project Manager)?

 

Cap was spot-on when he mentioned that there was a first director of S.H.I.E.L.D., one just prior to Colonel Fury.  I became aware of this in the entry on "Nick Fury" in the 1982 edition of The Official Guide to the Marvel Universe.  According to the info contained therein, the first director (unnamed) was assassinated by HYDRA before the poor guy even got the key to his office.

 

It's possible that this ill-fated first director had been the project manager for the establishment of S.H.I.E.L.D., and after he got the organisation up and running, he was offered the chance to run it.  That's the most logical assessment, and the way things usually work in real-life government projects.  It's a bit out of tune, though, with the fact that the first director was killed so quickly after getting the job.  If S.H.I.E.L.D.'s project manager had been in line for the big office all along, one would think he would have been guarded fourteen ways from Sunday.

 

But the implication is that the first director was killed so swiftly because S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't prepared for the resourcefulness of HYDRA or other enemies.

 

The scenario could run either way, but as it pertains to your question, yes, S.H.I.E.L.D. was already in place when Fury was signed up to take over.  The foregoing also explains why it took all the precautions it did to keep him alive, at least long enough to reach the Heli-Carrier, in Strange Tales #135.

 

 

"Was SHIELD a secret? Or could it be kept secret considering that the Heli-Carrier dominated the New York skyline! SHIELD had their secret headquarters but they also had a public office. Did ordinary people know what SHIELD was?"

 

The Silver-Age stories played fast and loose with this.  Sometimes it seemed to be a secret to the general public; other times, not---at least, there were times when Fury and his boys didn't take too much trouble to hide who they were.

 

I would expect that, eventually, it evolved into something along the lines of our National Security Agency.  It's publically known we have one, but most folks don't really know the nuts-and-bolts of what it does or how it operates.  If you overlay real-world realities on it, then the members of Congress would have to be aware that an organisation named S.H.I.E.L.D. existed---the Senate would have to approve the funding, even if the exact amount of that funding was kept secret (as it is with regards to our real-world intelligence communities).

 

As elected officials, senators and representatives don't undergo background checks or security clearances and that sort of thing, so often information about clandestine operations becomes known to them and that's where leaks often occur.  So it was probably through a similar outlet in the Marvel universe that the press and, ultimately, the public became aware that S.H.I.E.L.D. existed.  But S.H.I.E.L.D.'s actual operations was kept secret, even from Congress, so that part of it wasn't commonly known.

 

 

"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!"

 

He wouldn't have been effective at all as a spy.  Perhaps he wasn't that well known publically, but he was certainly known within the international espionage.  He had been an Army colonel working for the C.I.A., and the Soviets and the Red Chinese certainly had a dossier on Fury, as it did all other high-ranking members of our intelligence establishment.

 

But here's the thing:  Fury wasn't hired to be a spy; he was hired to run S.H.I.E.L.D.  That's not unusual; you could Google "Director of the C.I.A." and get a Wikipedia hit that has the name, bio, and photograph of the guy who currently has the position.  The present director of the C.I.A. is John O. Brennan, and nobody expected him to serve as a spy when he got tapped for the job.

 

Fury was hired to oversee the actions of S.H.I.E.L.D., not to take an active part in the field.  It's just that Fury had other ideas about that.

 

 

"Why didn't SHIELD recruit any super-powered help?"

 

Simple:  security clearances.

 

You have no idea how deeply one is investigated before granting him a high-level security clearance.  I held a "top secret" clearance, which is as high as a senior line officer in the military (who is not assigned in deep with the intelligence community) can get, and every five years my background was scrubbed and rescrubbed.  I had to produce addresses, the names of friends, the names of teachers, and other such information going back to elementary school.  And then you get inteviewed for hours over anything that has the least bit of hinkiness about it.  (I got all kinds of grief over the fact I changed my name, and it kept coming up over and over, until I finally had it out with the D.I.A. about it, and they stopped bothering me about it.)

 

And that was for a "lowly" TS clearance; you can imagine what the folks applying for the ozone-level clearances go through in our government.

 

Now, if we transfer that over to the Marvel universe, you can see the big stumbling block---secret identities.  Captain America was an obvious exception, of course.  But what average fellow of the cape-and-cowl set is going to open up his life to that kind of scrutiny?  And, yeah---before someone mentions it---sure, the Avengers held a high security clearance with the government.  But they were busy being Avengers; they didn't have time to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. as full-time operatives.

 

And even the super-heroes without secret identities are going to run into problems with a severe background check, given some of their questionable---at least, "questionable" out of context---activities.

 

"Hmmmm . . . Doctor Richards, according to the information we've collected, in 1961, you stole a United States rocket ship and took it on an unauthorised flight."

 

"Er . . . well, yes, that's technically true, but you see----"

 

"And you allowed three individuals who did not possess the proper credentials or clearances to accompany you, thereby compromising the secrecy of the project.  Is that not true, also?"

 

"Yes, but it was my best friend, my girl friend, and her kid brother.  I couldn't do anything about Johnny.  He said if he didn't go along, he would alert base security to what we were doing."

 

"So, doctor, you deliberately took the boy along to prevent him from doing his duty as a loyal citizen."

 

"No!  That's not how it was!  Look, we were just going to----"

 

"And on top of all of that, sir, you then crashed the rocket, destroying a project that cost the tax-payers thirty-three million dollars."

 

See what I mean?

 

S.H.I.E.L.D. did try to take advantage of a minimum level of super-power, of sorts.  In Strange Tales # 141 (Feb., 1966), we learnt that S.H.I.E.L.D. had established an E.S.P. Division, comprising existing agents who had demonstrated some significant level of extra-sensory perception.

 

Eventually, COL Fury did have a go at expounding the idea of super-powered agents.  Captain America # 217 (Jan., 1978) introduced the "S.H.I.E.L.D. Super-Agents".  It didn't work out too well, though.  Two of the original four "Super-Agents" turned out to be traitors.

 

 

"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?"

 

Well, it doesn't beg the question, but it does raise it. 

 

First, let me jump ahead a bit and expand on what Mr. Elyea and Kirk G stated.  Tony Stark was profoundly involved with S.H.I.E.L.D.  In Strange Tales # 135, he was one of the big wigs gathered to vette Fury for the position of S.H.I.E.L.D. director.  And, according to the story, Stark was also head of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Special Weaponry Section.

 

For the series' first year or so, Tony Stark was virtually a supporting character.  After Strange Tales # 135, Stark appeared in issues # 138-41, 143, and one final appearance in # 152.  The writers went to pains, though, to keep Iron Man out of the picture.  In Strange Tales # 138 (Nov., 1965), COL Fury brings Stark into his office to discuss options for preventing HYDRA from launching its deadly Betatron Bomb, when HYDRA agents burst in and kidnap Fury.  Stark is helpless to prevent it because he forgot to bring along his attaché case containing his Iron Man outfit.

 

Moreover, Tony Stark wasn't just there to do "special guest star" cameos.  In Strange Tales # 140 (Jan., 1966), after HYDRA has put its Betatron Bomb into orbit over the Earth, Stark pilots the super-sophisticated "Braino-Saur" aircraft into space and then disarms the Betatron Bomb himself.  A few issues later, in # 143 (Apr., 1966), two villains, Mentallo and the Fixer, have incapacitated Nick Fury and taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.  It's Tony Stark who leads Dum Dum Dugan and other agents in an assault to regain their HQ.  (It's insinuated in both instances that there just isn't time for Stark to slip away and become Iron Man.)

 

As to the matter of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s advanced technology, most of it had to have been Stark's doing.  As to why the other great brains of the Marvel universe weren't enlisted, in most cases, the problem with security clearances was probably the reasons.  Stark, of course, was good to go; his government contacts for munitions had already provided him with the clearances he needed.  But as for other possibilities, well, I already mentioned Reed Richards.  As for Bruce Banner, even though his dual existence as the Hulk wasn't revealed openly until Tales to Astonish # 77 (Mar., 1966), President Johnson was aware of it, thanks to Rick Jones, back in Tales to Astonish # 63 (Jan., 1965).  And that alone---as information I bring up below will show---was enough to keep Banner out of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Professor Charles Xavier, at that time, wasn't publically known as a great mind.  S.H.I.E.L.D might have offered a slot to Henry Pym, but he was too busy being an Avenger to accept it.

 

The upshot of this is that, except for Tony Stark, most of S.H.I.E.L.D. scientific section was probably composed of "second-tier" brainiacs.  Really smart fellows, just not in Tony Stark's league.  But they were good enough to take his designs and develop them into operating equipment.

 

 

"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?"

 

More questions which the series played fast and loose with.  Frankly, I don't recall if the concept as originally presented in Strange Tales # 135 stated that S.H.I.E.L.D. was intended to be an international organisation.  I seem to recall that some of the V.I.P's gathered to interview Fury were some of "the world's top leaders".  But I could be wrong about that, and I'm too lazy to dig out my copy of the issue and double-check; particuarly because it really doesn't matter.  In due time, S.H.I.E.L.D. was treated as strictly a U.S. organisation.  I don't think the idea that it was international---if, in fact, that idea was ever floated---ever got anything more than lip-service.

 

The same kind of vagaries attached to the hierarchy that extended above S.H.I.E.L.D.  For the first eleven issues of the series, COL Fury appears to answer to no-one.  Then, in the start of an arc that introduces the criminal combine, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.)---Strange Tales # 146 (Jul., 1966)---Count Bornag Royale, representing A.I.M, presents himself to S.H.I.E.L.D., claiming that A.I.M. is a "society of the greatest brains on Earth", seeking to help mankind.  Count Royale offers A.I.M.'s services to S.H.I.E.L.D., but Fury smells a rat and orders a total shake-down of Royale's person and background.  Royale is forced to submit to a body search and grueling interviews.  It's actually a stall to give Fury time to investigate Royale himself.

 

Outraged at the heavy-handed treatment, Count Royale appears before S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "board of directors" to file a complaint.  A.I.M. could do so much for S.H.I.E.L.D., in terms of technology, he tells the board, if it not for COL Fury standing in his way.

 

In the next issue, # 147, one of the board members---an Army general---confronts Fury and tells Fury of Royale's complaint.  The general demands that Fury drop his resistence to A.I.M., but the fact of Royale's end-around, going to the board of directors, only confirm the S.H.I.E.L.D. director's suspicions that A.I.M is on the side of the devil.  Fury then refuses the general's demand.

 

Naturally, in the end, Fury is proven right, A.I.M. is sent packing, and, in issue # 148, when the colonel explains the entire story to the board, the members are contrite and apologetic.

 

This sequence reveals a couple of things, but they are confusing.  It establishes that there is a board of government officials that have auspice over S.H.I.E.L.D., but when the Army general on the board---a senior military officer to COL Fury---tells Fury to welcome A.I.M. with open arms, Fury refuses to obey---with no repercussions.

 

The only way this can be made to work is if the arrangement is set up in this fashion:  the board of directors has adminstrative oversight of S.H.I.E.L.D.---keeping a watchful eye out for abuses and malfeasance, that sort of thing---but it has no authority over S.H.I.E.L.D.'s operational activities.  In that, Fury has ultimate repsonsibility and authority---something which no doubt reposes in the position of Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.; otherwise, Fury never could have gotten away with refusing an order from a general officer.

 

Now, hey, whoa there, commander!  Are you saying that Colonel Fury answers to no-one for how he runs S.H.I.E.L.D.?

 

Not at all, good fellows.  He answers to the man who put him in the job:  the President of the United States.  (Which, incidentally, is another indicator that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a domestic, not an international, outfit.)  We know this because of Strange Tales # 155 (Apr., 1967).

 

In the story presented, a group of government V.I.P.'s are on board the Heli-Carrier to witness the demonstration of a new weapon.  Unfortunately, the inventor of the weapon is actually a HYDRA agent, who has managed to smuggle more of the enemy on board.  Things go very badly for Nick Fury.  Three of his closest friends are hypnotised to kill him and the lives of the government big wigs are imperiled.  It's an ugly mess all the way around.  Fury manages to pull out a win, but the big wigs are highly pissed at the colonel's negligence, and they go running to the President to complain.

 

The next thing that Fury knows, he's on the horn with President Johnson, who orders Nick under house arrest.  And there's no refusing to obey this time.

 

It only makes sense.  The director of S.H.I.E.L.D. serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States. 

 

 

Whew!  That's about the best I can do, Philip, with only a morning to study it.  Hope this helps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commander, if that's what you've figured out in one morning, Lord knows what you could accomplish in a week! :-)

Fascinating answers! Thanks to all!

Yet.........................................................................................

  • The fact that Colonel Fury could ignore a general leads to this question: Was Fury still in the Army? Was he retired? Was his rank now pertaining "just" to SHIELD?
  • Apparently Fury treated his title as Director of SHIELD much like Jim Kirk did his as Captain of the Enterprise. He was going to take direct action.
  • As for the International scope of SHIELD, they did have bases in other countries, IIRC.
  • The involvement of Tony Stark with SHIELD corresponds with when he left the Avengers. Could he have built up SHIELD because of a lack of faith in the "new" Avengers?
  • One thing that I forgot to mention about Captain America wanting to join SHIELD was this: Was SHIELD named that to foreshadow Cap's involvement with it? Why call the organization SHIELD if not to invoke Cap?
  • After all, at times Cap's book could have been titled Captain America, Agent of SHIELD!
  • SHIELD should have been part of most of Marvel's Silver Age books after 1965: tracking the Hulk, observing Latveria, trying to capture Magneto, getting info on Galactus, etc. There were a lot of jobs that SHIELD could be doing, if they weren't already doing it.
  • As for the origin of SHIELD, it was simply the expansion of the Marvel Universe. The rise of mutants, the abundance of Communist agents on US soil, the Skrulls, the Kree, Doctor Doom taking over Latveria, Asgardian presence on Earth, the return of Atlantis, Monster Island combined with the increased activity of HYDRA demanded the creation of a super intelligence force, designed to safeguard humanity from situations beyond their comprehension!

 

I can answer only a couple of these with any kind of authority, and that still won't be definitive, because the stories themselves don't provide enough information.

 

 

"The fact that Colonel Fury could ignore a general leads to this question: Was Fury still in the Army? Was he retired? Was his rank now pertaining "just" to SHIELD?"

 

I had to do a little math first, before tackling this one, Philip---in order to make sure none of the statutory limitations on military service came into play.

 

Based upon various bits of info presented in Sgt. Fury---such as his enlisting a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor---and maintaining a real-world timeline, we can safely assume that the year of Fury's birth was c. 1920.

 

We know he received his commission as an officer, a second lieutenant, during the Korean War.  Most likely, it would have happened in 1951.  (If it was a year before, or a year or two later, it doesn't impinge upon the statutory limitations of which I speak.)

 

That means that, in 1965, Colonel Nick Fury was no older than 45; that he had 14 years of service as a commissioned officer (a little early to have made colonel, but it's not unlikely he was deep-selected for early promotion at least once); and 24 total years of military service.

 

As far as the pertinent statutes governing military service go (real-world, that is), Fury had not yet reached the age of manditory retirement (60, unless one is a general/flag officer or a military physician).  He had also not yet reached the number of years of service for manditory retirement.  (For a "mustang" officer, in his case and under  U.S. law at the time, 40 years.)  However, Fury did have enough time in service to retire (at least 20), if he so desired.

 

Under ordinary conditions, I cannot see Fury retiring until he reached a manditory limit, and even then, they would have to pry his fingers off the bulkhead to get him to go.

 

We know he was still active duty with the Army when he was serving with the C.I.A., so most likely, he was still on active duty while serving as director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

However, we cannot rule out the possibility that, under whatever provisions the folks who created the position of Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. felt advisable, Fury may have been required to retire from the Army to accept the job.  But even if that were the case, it could not be determined from the stories.  The fact that he is still addressed as Colonel Fury doesn't tell us anything.

 

What most civilians don't know is that a commission as an officer in any of the United States armed forces is for life.  The only exceptions to this are if (1) the individual resigns his commission; or (2) if he is stripped of his commission by a disciplinary action at court-martial.  Otherwise, even when he retires, he retains his commission as a military officer (at the rank which he last held at retirement; they stopped doing "tombstone" promotions in 1958).  That means he retains his title and any ancilliary benefits attached to them.

 

Take me, for example.  I'm a commander for life (unless I'm ever foolhardy enough to do something to bring a court-martial, because, yes, technically, I am still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice).  Now, my pay, of course, is my pension, and I have no official duties, but I still enjoy the perks of being a Navy commander.  I still hold the title "Commander".  If I go on a military installation, if I am (for some peculiar reason) in uniform or am in some other fashion, recognisable as a commander, then I am still entitled to be saluted, to be "bonged" on board Navy ships whose C.O.'s are commanders and below, and all of the other fun things.

 

I am also subject to recall to active duty, although in the case of retirees, frankly, the Taliban would have to be marching down 34th Street in Manhattan for that to happen.

 

As a retired Army colonel, Fury would enjoy all of the same privileges; ergo, the fact that he is addressed as "Colonel" doesn't establish his status, one way or the other.

 

But still, given all the facts that we know or can reliably extrapolate, he's probably still on active duty at the time of the Silver-Age S.H.I.E.L.D. stories.

 

Now, eventually, it was shown that S.H.I.E.L.D., indeed, had its own rank structure (codefied in that 1982 Offical Guide to the Marvel Universe).  Within that rank structure, Fury's title would be "Director", and there are occasions when he is addressed as "Director Fury".  However, my guess is, Fury would prefer to be addressed by his Army title, rather than his S.H.I.E.L.D. one.  (Not that unheard of; as I recall, after leaving the Oval Office, Eisenhower preferred to be addressed as "General", rather than "Mr. President".)

 

Now, we address the matter of COL Fury, presuming he was still on active duty, ignoring the wishes of a senior officer, and a general officer, at that.  That falls under the heading of "positional authority".

 

"Positional authority" is an awkward thing in the military, and the military avoids it when it can, but sometimes it cannot.  Positional authority attaches when the responsibility and authority invested in an officer by virtue of his position is absolute (excepting, naturally, the seniors in his own chain-of-command), and he cannot be overruled even by an officer of higher rank.

 

It occurs most often in---surprise, surprise---the Navy, and the matter of the commanding officer.  Per Navy regulations, the commanding officer is the ultimate authority (and holds the ultimate responsibility; that's the downside) over anything and anyone on board his ship or station.

 

Let's say that Bushrod holds the rank of commander and he is the commanding officer of USS Neversail.  Now, Commander Bushrod's immediate senior in his chain-of-command is the squadron commodore, Captain Ironpants.

 

And let's further say that, for whatever reason, USS Neversail is underway, transporting two senior officers---Captain Clueless and Rear Admiral Seabreeze---who are not in Commander Bushrod's chain-of-command.  Then, whatever actions Commander Bushrod takes within the scope of his official duties as C.O. of Neversail, they cannot be countermanded or changed or interfered with by CAPT Clueless or RADM Seabreeze, even though they outrank CDR Bushrod.  That's because Bushrod has the positional authority of being the ultimate authority on his command.

 

Now, if CAPT Ironpants, who is in Bushrod's chain-of-command, is on board Neversail, he may override CDR Bushrod---because his positional authority is superior to Bushrod's.

 

You can see why it is a sticky thing.  No three-stripe commander, even if he is the C.O. and acting with the proper authority, wants to piss off a senior officer, and particularly not a flag officer, like RADM Seabreeze.  Yes, Bushrod would be acting within his authority, and yes, the Navy would back him.  But ticking off an admiral would come back to haunt him at some point.

 

Now, in the case of Colonel Fury and the general, Fury's authority as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is positional authority, which permits him to ignore the orders of the general.  Fury answers to the President of the United States, only.

 

(By the way, Philip, are you getting an idea of why military service is such a "fun" career?)

 

As to . . .

 

"As for the International scope of SHIELD, they did have bases in other countries, IIRC."

 

Unfortunately, that fact, in and of itself, doesn't pinpoint whether S.H.I.E.L.D. was an international or domestic organisation.  The U.S. armed forces have a number of bases on foreign soil.  All it takes is a status-of-forces agreement with the host nation.  Nothing would prevent S.H.I.E.L.D. from having the same kind of arrangement.

 

 

Hope this helps.

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