Fury, Agent of SHIELD: Empyre (Published August 2000)
Nick Fury, Dum Dum, and agent Starla Spacek of the new Special Powers Division investigate a global threat as a series of planes mysteriously crash -culminating in the disappearance of an Empyre Airlines jumbo jet. Suspicion initially points to the involvement of terrorists in Hydra, but Fury soon learns that the true villain is the insane leader of the nation Quorak - who wants nothing less than world destruction.
Also lacking is the caliber of villains, a one-dimension Hydra goon and the power-mad Nadir al-Bazinda, both of which appear near the end of the novel. The lack of a strong villain akin to Von Strucker or the Yellow Claw makes for a tepid ending devoid of the requisite mano-a-mano showdown that normally serves as the thrilling cap to a Nick Fury tale. Although the plot features all the hallmarks of a larger-then-life S.H.I.E.L.D. adventure, it never scales back to offer a more personal and urgent showdown. Despite these flaws, the books sports some classic moments, among them Fury's patented driving style which leads him to drive his car off the helicarrier at one point, and at another encourages his passengers to join him in the old Howling Commando rebel yell of "WAHOO!" as he plays chicken with a tank. Fury himself is characterized well, especially in the action sequences and in his banter with Dum Dum, however more time could have spent on him if not for Spacek. All in all, a must have for Fury fanatics simply for the virtue of it being the first (only?) Nick Fury novel, but it could have been better.