Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.  #12-14 "The Hydra Affair"

Writer: Bob Harras
Penciler: Micheal Bair (#12), Kieth Pollard (#13-14)
Inker: Kim DeMulder
Letterer: Rich Starkings
Colorist: Steve Buccellato

Fury faces a new Hydra, Once again under the leadership of Madame Hydra, recently escaped from her prison courtesy of the Yellow Claw. Madame Hydra lures S.H.I.E.L.D. into a trap where she captures Pierce and brainwashes him into being her second as she raids the Pacific islands for recruits for the new Hydra.

S.H.I.E.L.D. inaugurates the launching of the new helicarrier, with a new crew of agents (trained by Gabe Jones) who set sights on the new Hydra island base. A battle rages wherein Pierce comes to his senses as he sees his friends fall in combat, and he turns the tide against Madame Hydra. The Yellow Claw watches the battle and makes a hasty exit, leaving behind two surprises; an alliance with Werner Strucker and the preserved body of Dum Dum Dugan. 

  • Continuity Notes
  • Appearance by Iron Man
  • The new helicarrier is built inside a secret hanger in the Grand Canyon
  • Return appearances by Madame Hydra, Werner Von Strucker and the Yellow Claw, last seen in Nova (1) #19
  • Dum Dum is found alive, held in suspended animation by the Yellow Claw
  • Final issues for inker Kim DeMulder
  • For more, check out our interview with Kim DeMulder

Some of the biggest questions that still linger after the demise of this S.H.I.E.L.D. title can be all found in this tight-paced three-parter which promised big things for Nick Fury and company. First a tackle on what actually exists; the story, a final contribution by Bob Harras and Keith Pollard, is one of the more exciting stories from the series. In keeping pace with prior issues, we see small vignettes of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. taking form (the retrofitting of S.H.I.E.L.D. Central, the launching of the helicarrier, and new crop of agents joining). Also there is characterization in spades as attention is paid to supporting characters like Red, Lump, and newly introduced N'Gami. The relationship between Madame Hydra and Pierce's reactions to it are interesting, adding a unique dimension to the character. Also we see small hints of NIna's possible attraction to Pierce.

In fact the entire story drops small promising hints about many characters; which brings us to all the sad fact that no one bothered to follow up on these mysteries (to my knowledge). What incident was Fury referring when he warned Nina about "the last time", what is the secret to Red and Lump's survival? What is the nature of the bargain between Werner Strucker and Yellow Claw? And what purpose did the Claw have in saving Dum Dum? All this, plus N'gami were lost in retcon as the title shifted creative control, sadly leaving much promising material behind.