Strange Tales #146 - 149 "The End of AIM"
Layouts (#146-9) Jack Kirby
Script: (#147) Stan Lee, (#148) Jack Kirby, (#149) Denny O'Neil

Art: (#146-8) Don Heck, (#149) Ogden Whittney

Letterer: (#146-8) Sam Rosen, (#149) Arte Simek

Fury and his team are following up on the android from THEM that attacked Nick Fury and Captain America in a remote swamp. The task force discover an enemy hideout and launch an underwater raid.

Meanwhile Count Borang Royale, representing A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) makes it clear to the US military brass that he won't offer them technology as long as Nick Fury is in command of S.H.I.E.L.D. .Aboard the helicarrier he sparks an incident that galvanizes opinion on Nick Fury and his command of the agency. Unbeknownst to anyone, AIM is in fact a branch of the terrorist forces S.H.I.E.L.D. has been investigating. Soon AIM makes its true colors known and launches an attack on the barber shop entrance to S.H.I.E.L.D. Central.

Following a fatal interrogation that costs the 'life' of an LMD replica of himself, Nick Fury faces a board of inquiry where his leadership and command style are put into question. Meanwhile, AIM launches a raid on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Life Model Decoy factory where they steal a Fury LMD. However a trap is spring on the AIM task force and the LMD reveals himself to be the real Nick Fury (the one standing trial being an LMD) and Dugan launches an attack with S.H.I.E.L.D. forces. Count Royale escape the helicarrier and is followed by Sitwell who watches Royale and the AIM mountain headquarters explode. Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. command, Fury is cleared of all charges by the board and combs over recovered artifacts from HYDRA wit Dugan and Jones. After surviving a near fatal clue, Fury and his comrades realize that they will soon face a greater threat that has been guiding their various foes.

  • Continuity Notes
  • Cover appearance on issues #147 and 149
  • Appearances by Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, and Jasper Sitwell.
  • First appearance of Advanced Ideas Mechanics (A.I.M.)
  • This storyline picks up after the events of Tales of Suspense #78
  • Gabe Jones appears after the events of Tales to Astonish #83
  • Reprinted in :
    • Marvel Masterworks: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Volume 1
    • S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete Collection Omnibus
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. by Lee & Kirby: The Complete Collection

"He's a top notch fighting man, who never stops fighting, he looks and acts like he hasn't left his foxhole in twenty years"; perhaps the definitive quote on Nick Fury, from the pen of Jack Kirby.

This story certainly ranks as one of the best, sporting some of the most surprising twists in a S.H.I.E.L.D. tale with inventive uses of the Life Model Decoy, before it became an overused plot device. The ultimately confusing attack of the acronyms, THEM, AIM and the Secret Empire make their way into the story, however its all worthwhile in giving Gabe Jones a well deserved spotlight. The final act of the story, featuring the trio of former Howlers facing a bobbytraped clue is not only exciting but also features perfect evolution of the comrade the characters shared in the war years. The plot slowly unfolds as this story showcases the tapestry of the interconnected Marvel Universe with the organization known as THEM spreading through multiple titles, including Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense. As villains, AIM does suffer somewhat visually; their bright yellow uniforms lacking menace of HYDRA's green. The character of Count Royale lacks anything special about him.

The various S.H.I.E.L.D. hardware on display is truly a testament to the grandiose imagination of the creative team. Ranging from the now familiar LMD to the S.H.I.E.L.D. swamp buggy, the tech in this storyline is amazing.