Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1-6 (The Death's Head Commandos)
Writer: Bob Harras
Penciler: (#1) Bob Hall, (#2-6) Kieth Pollard
Inker Kim DeMulder
Colorist: Bernie Jaye
Letterer: Richard Starkings

The menace of the Death's Head squads brings Nick Fury out of a one year secluded retirement to investigate the assassination of various intelligence operatives, as well as the death of Dum Dum. With Val and Mac acting as Presidential liaisons, Fury brings together a task  force which includes Pierce and Kate Neville as well as psychic party girl "Network" Nina. The last Deltite LMD, Red, stows away on the S.H.I.E.L.D. quinjet and reveals herself to the team screaming in German. The psychic link is a result of a cry for help from an alien creature held by the Death's Head called Lump. The Death's Head are in fact a telepathic alien race known as the Gnobians who made first contact with Baron Von Strucker during World War II. The entire race absorbed Von Strucker's hatred for the world and in particular for Nick Fury. The Gnobians had been left in stasis all these years while Strucker used their technology to supply Hydra. Von Strucker's son and Professor Schmidt, who was there that night with the Baron, sought to clear the family name and restore the Gnobians but it was too late. Instead the Gnobians set out to destroy all that Von Strucker hated, including Nick Fury. The Death's Head employed Werner and Schmidt to bait Fury and bring him to their lair underneath the last battle of the Howlers against Strucker.

Fury and his team are confronted with the Gnobian Queen who is the center of the group consciousness. Fury and his team manage to defeat the Queen, who near death realizes the good in humanity and decides to bring an end to all by implementing a self-destruct. Fury and his team make it out with Werner, Red, and Lump, who is the last Gnobian untouched by the hatred of Strucker. Afterward the Countessa convinces Fury that there is still a need for S.H.I.E.L.D. and that he should return to lead it.

  • Continuity Notes
  • First appearance by Lump, Red, Werner Von Strucker (#1), and "Network" Nina (#2)
  • Dum Dum Dugan is killed in the first issue, later to reappear in the series unharmed with no explanation
  • The events of the 1996 Fury oneshot dispute some of the events in this story
  • After S.H.I.E.L.D., The Countessa joined the CIA (with Al Mackenzie) and Fury retired to Nova Scotia to live with Kate Neville
  • An Imperial Kree sentry is seen in issue #3 and 4
  • Editor Gregory Wright would serve as the title's final writer in the last six issues
  • Dum Dum's obituary can be seen in Marvel- The Year in Review 1989
  • Reprinted in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Classic Volume 1
  • For more, check out our interview with Inker Kim DeMulder
  • For more, check out our interview with Editor Gregory Wright

A solid start for the new series balances the fantasy elements of the original comic with a dose of modern sensibility. Fury in particular is updated well with a dose of wear & tear. Despite the Infinity Formula, Fury is portrayed as a man showing age both in mind and in body. His determination in avenging the death of his loyal friend Dum Dum is palatable and his animosity toward Val are well realized. On the other hand Val and Kate have little reason to be so bitchy toward each other, the situation reflecting worse on the former as she is supposedly more mature then Kate.

The scenes of Dum Dum and his family are poignant and another distinctive example of the maturity of the story. Although hotly contested, the Gnobians could have been a helluva lot worse considering Marvel's track record and complaints about them being too farfetched for the series premise fall flat when one considers just the second issue of the original comic. Instead of being just another Kree or Skrull, the Gnobians enjoy a unique sense of tragedy that raises the quality of the material. Aside from the last-minute deus-ex-machina of the self destruct, the Gnobians are amoung the best realized alien race outside of Rom: Space Knight or Silver Surfer. The art is consistently good, especially with Kim DeMulder returning from the miniseries for inking duties, however the weapons continue to be widely exaggerated.