Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. # 20-23 / 25-26 (The Rebirth of Baron Von Strucker)

Writer: D.G. Chichester

Penciler: Jackson Guice
Inker: (#20)Dan Panosian, (#21-22) John Beatty, (#23, 25- 26) Doug Hazelwood
Letterer: Philp Felix
Colorist: Nel Yomtov

The Red Skull gathers together three loyal agents who voyage to the sunken HYDRA Island and revive Strucker, his genetic material now bonded with the Death Spore virus thus giving him a new leash on life. Meanwhile The Skull sets plan into motion for the recovery of HYDRA into Strucker's hands, one segment which alerts Russian General Yuri Spetsburo who calls in a favor to old friend Nick Fury. Fury catches a theft of some state secrets and they identify the thieves as rogue KGB agents. However all this is a ruse involving blackmail of Gen. Spetsburo by the Red Skull while Von Strucker retakes HYDRA for his own. The new HYDRA unveils itself during a devastating attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. Central which leaves 1,500 graduating agents dead.

  • Continuity Notes
  • Appearances by Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, Captain America, She-Hulk, Thor, and Wolverine
  • Villain appearances by The Red Skull, Baron Von Strucker, and Leviathan
  • Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker returns to life, having been killed in Strange Tales #158 in 1965
  • New uniforms for Hydra debut, abandoning the traditional yellow and green for red
  • First appearance of Hydra agent Romulus
  • The patrol boat in #23 is named the USS Kirby after Jack Kirby, the original artist for Nick Fury
  • The Red Skull's agent is named Rosa Klebb; after the SMERSH agent in Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love
  • Fury's quote about Val in #21 was used in David Goyer's script for the FOX tele-movie Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Story reprinted through Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Classic Volume 2 and 3.

Hands down the one of the best S.H.I.E.L.D. story ever thanks to the combined talent of artist Jackson Guice and scribe Chichester. The multi-track story combines genuine espionage and comic-book fantasy with plenty of character development of Fury and his nemesis, as well as the supporting casts on both sides of the coin. Its hard to choose who is more the villain, Strucker or Skull, as both come off as utterly chilling. Fury likewise becomes somewhat frightening as he's driven over the edge by the mass death before his eyes. Its not all darkness and gloom however; there are some pleasant character moments just before the shit hits the fan in issue 25 and for once the chemistry between Fury and Kate is showcased. Also noteworthy is Cassandra Romulus who gets nearly as good an intro as Von Strucker. The artwork by Guice is nothing short of stunning with funky angles and drop dead gorgeous renderings of Val (check out the sexpionage portion in #22) and all the other women. 
These issues are a MUST HAVE!