Warning: Spoilers ahead for Fury #1!
Nick Fury exits the Marvel Universe
This week, Marvel celebrated the 60th anniversary of Nick Fury’s first appearance with Fury #1 (2023), a special one-shot celebrating the character’s legacy. The anniversary special is written by Al Ewing, with art from Scot Eaton, Cam Smith, Tom Reilly, Adam Kubert, and Ramon Rosanas.
If you haven’t been keeping up with Nick Fury, the former superspy has been living on the moon. Calling himself the Unseen, Fury monitors Earth for any threats and reports directly to the cosmic entity known as the Watcher. His son Nick Fury Jr. (he’s the one who looks like Samuel L. Jackson) currently resides on Earth, where he has various espionage adventures.
In this special one-shot Fury and Fury Jr. team-up to battle S.C.O.R.P.I.O., a mercenary who is after a mystical artifact known as the Zodiac Key. According to Fury, the Zodiac Key has the power to open a gateway known as the Door of all Worlds. This gateway is a junction to various alternate realities throughout the multiverse. Luckily Fury and Fury Jr. defeat S.C.O.R.P.I.O. and retrieve the Zodiac Key. However, it turns out that Fury has his own plans for the mystical artifact.
Fury tells his son that he’s tired of his role as the Unseen and is ready to explore new worlds. “Call it a vacation. Find somewhere I don’t know all the dirty secrets under every rock. Where I’m not looking at everyone through a damn sniper scope,” Fury says. He then says goodbye to his son, steps into the Door of all Worlds, and departs the Marvel Universe.
Fury’s current whereabouts are unknown, since there are an infinite number of realities he could have ended up in. Although this issue is treated as a goodbye for the character, there is little doubt that the original Fury will return someday. Even his son acknowledges the inevitability of his return. “And then he’s gone. Forever? I doubt it. I’ve heard that song too many times,” Fury Jr. muses.
Nick Fury was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as the protagonist of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, a war comic set during World War II. When the character proved popular, Lee began including him in Marvel’s superhero titles. Inspired by the spy craze of the 1960s, Fury was reimagined as a secret agent and given his own feature in the title Strange Tales. This led to a spin-off titled Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now Marvel is celebrating the character’s 60th anniversary by sending him off to another reality. It may seem a bit unconventional, but the comic also makes it clear that Fury’s legacy will never die.
A tale of two Furys
The Marvel Universe might be losing one Nick Fury, but luckily, they have a spare. Nick Fury Jr. (commonly referred to as plain Nick Fury throughout the Marvel Universe) is still a major player, occupying the superspy role his father once filled. The road that took us to this destination was an unusual, but interesting one.
It all started with the publication of The Ultimates in 2002. The series was part of Marvel’s Ultimate Comics imprint, which featured modernized takes on classic Marvel characters. Since The Ultimates was set in an alternate reality, writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch were free to reimagine characters like Nick Fury. The Ultimates was approached as if it was a comic adaptation of a non-existent movie, which meant modeling classic Marvel characters after contemporary actors. If you haven’t guessed by now, Nick Fury was modeled after Samuel L. Jackson.
The early Marvel Cinematic Universe films took heavy inspiration from the Ultimate Universe, which led to Samuel L. Jackson being cast as Nick Fury in Iron Man (2008). Thanks to the popularity of the MCU, Jackson soon became the face people associated with Nick Fury. This made things complicated for Marvel’s mainstream continuity books, which still featured a Caucasian Nick Fury, as designed by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Marvel solved this problem with a 2011 limited series called Battle Scars. The comic introduced Nick Fury’s previously unrevealed son Nick Fury Jr., who just happened to be a dead ringer for Samuel L. Jackson. In what can only be described as a contrived coincidence, Fury Jr. lost his left eye, forcing him to wear an eyepatch.
After the publication of Battle Scars, Fury Jr. became a regular fixture in the Marvel Universe. In fact, the comics treated the character as if he had always been there, with some books ignoring the existence of his father. With Marvel’s desire for symmetry between their comics and films, the departure of the original Fury shouldn’t come as a surprise. The original Fury leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. and moving to the moon only cemented the transition.
Where does that leave Nick Fury Jr.?
With the original Nick Fury exiting the Marvel Universe, what does this mean for Nick Fury Jr.? The Watcher has some ideas, suggesting that Fury Jr. take his father’s place as the Unseen. Fury Jr. is not too keen on moving to the moon. “I’m not sure Earth needs a man on the wall. Our worst problems right now are homegrown,” Fury Jr. tells the Watcher. “What does it take to shield mankind from that shadow,” the Watcher asks Fury. The superspy notes his choice of words, and comments that it’s time to get the old band back together.
If you didn’t pick up on the hint, it sounds like S.H.I.E.L.D. will be coming back. The legendary spy organization was disbanded after the events of the Secret Empire crossover, but nothing stays dead forever in the Marvel Universe.
The original Nick Fury might be gone, but his presence will still be felt. Afterall, S.H.I.E.L.D. was his greatest legacy. Besides, even if he’s moved to another timeline, he will always be a part of the Marvel Universe, whether he likes it or not.
Fury #1 (2023) is written by Al Ewing, with art from Scot Eaton, Cam Smith, Tom Reilly, Adam Kubert, and Ramon Rosanas.