Marvel Spotlight #31 "Assignment: The Infinity Formula" (1976)
Writer: Jim Starlin
Art: Howard Chaykin
Colorist: Jan Cohen
Letterer: Jim Novak

Near the end of the war, Nick Fury is injured fatally, brought to recovery only through an experimental surgery and process by Dr. Sternberg. The result is Fury survived, but at the cost of having to replenish himself with the yearly injections of the Infinity Formula. 

After decades of blackmailing Fury for his life, Dr. Sternberg is murdered by hood Steel Harris thus opening the way for Harris to take up the extortion. Fury goes on an international quest to seek Harris before his lease on youth gives out forever. When a mysterious new player steals the formula from Harris, the hood returns to Las Vegas to brood. Fury breaks in and the fight Harris is killed and Fury is near death as the stranger reveals herself...Val. The Countessa had stolen the Formula to save Nick and administers it to him, thus learning Fury's dark secret.

  • Continuity Notes
  • Cover Appearance, including a return of the old corner logo from S.H.I.E.L.D. (V1)
  • Appearance by Val
  • First mention of the Infinity Formula
  • The Infinity Formula would later feature prominently in Nick Fury Vs S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.( V2) #31-32
  • Chaykin's first work on Nick Fury. He would go on to be the second most influential comic book writer/artist to work on Fury
  • Reprinted in
    • Marvel Comics' Grandsons of Origins
    • Marvel Masterworks: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Volume 3
    • S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete Collection Omnibus
  • Check out the interview with Jim Starlin from the Feburary 2011 Miami Comic Con, speaking about the story behind this issue.

Exciting return for Nick Fury to the solo spotlight and for Val as well. Chaykin's artwork is stylish and brings a noir-like air to it. The plot by Jim Starlin is solid and exciting and offers a great explanation for Fury's lack of aging (but what about Dum Dum and Gabe?). The story rehashes some of the old familiar elements (the hovercar, Fury nearly bites the dust but is saved by a twist of fate) and introduces some new ones which would endure with the character. The theme of aging, a subject hardly ever touched upon in comics aside from Green Arrow, is started here and would be followed up in Chaykin's next Fury outing; The Scorpio Connection. Although Val is hardly seen, her actions are felt and her character gets a tremendous boost here, once again showcasing that she is one of the greats of the Marvel women.