Strange Tales #154-158 (The Fall of HYDRA Island)
Writer: Stan Lee/Roy Thomas/Steranko
Illustrator: Steranko
Letterer: Sam Rosen

Committed to protecting Laura Brown, Fury dispatches her to a safe house under the protection of Gabe and Sitwell, who are then attacked by a score of HYDRA agents. In the battle that ensues, Agent Bronson distinguishes himself and Fury picks him as a bodyguard for Laura. Unbeknownst to S.H.I.E.L.D., Bronson is in fact the Supreme Hydra in disguise. Fostering confusion, the Supreme Hydra leads all to believe that Laura is the real leader as well as launching various attempts on Fury's life from within, including one which nearly brings the helicarrier crashing down. The last ploy leaves Fury under house arrest by the White House and allows the Supreme Hydra to escape with the latest S.H.I.E.L.D. jet and Laura Brown.

Arriving on HYDRA Island secreted on the S.H.I.E.L.D. jet, Nick Fury learns that Laura Brown is to stand trial in place for the free world, after which the Death Spore will be released into the world from the belly of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. Fury is captured spying on the Supreme Hydra, who before a jury of HYDRA leaders reveals himself at last to be Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker. Fury manages an escape and sets out to fight Von Strucker. Using the Epiderm-Mask machine, Fury tricks HYDRA into believing that they have trapped him in the reactor core, but in fact it is Von Strucker bearing a mask of Nick Fury's face. Fury and Laura escape and watch as HYDRA Island sinks with the Death Spore virus released inside (Fury brought it with him from the helicarrier).

  • Continuity Notes
  • Cover appearance; #155,157
  • First modern day appearance of Baron Von Strucker
  • Appearances by Dum Dum, Gabe Jones, Jasper Sitwell, Boothroyd, and Laura Brown
  • First appearance of the HYDRA Dreadnought, which would make subsequent appearances in later comics including Daredevil and Marvel Team-Up
  • Issue #155 features a schematic of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier
  • Union Jack (2) #3 features a flashback to Strange Tales #154
  • Reprinted in 
    • Nick Fury and His Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #5
    • Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (TPB) 
    • Marvel Masterworks: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Volume 2
    • S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete Collection Omnibus
    • S.H.I.E.L.D. by Jim Steranko: The Complete Collection

Considered by many to be the premiere S.H.I.E.L.D. story, it features everything a fan could hope for. Crafted by Stan Lee and Steranko, this epic has ranked among the three most important and influential S.H.I.E.L.D. stories (the other two being the original Scorpio story and the NF Vs S.H.I.E.L.D. miniseries) and continues to influence current continuity. Finally breaking free of Kirby's breakdowns, Steranko infuses his own dynamic style of layouts and art into the stories and upgrades the material drastically. Also improved considerably is some of the leaden dialogue which glosses Fury and his cohorts with more believability. Fury at least seems to be actually saving the day rather then relying on happy circumstance, employing considerable cunning and even ruthlessness (what did the U.N. say about releasing the Death Spore virus inside the island?) HYDRA really comes alive with Von Strucker as its leader and although the organization differs slightly from its prior appearances (no more departments) it nonetheless poses a worthy foe to S.H.I.E.L.D.. Only Laura Brown seems to suffer slightly, losing some of her spunk from her initial storyline, appearing more like a typical damsel in distress.