Saturday, July 16, 2011

Strange Tales 137

The third appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D. This issue starts with the Hydra vehicle captured in the last issue. Nick Fury refers to himself as Agent A-1. Fury is issued a bullet proof suit, a hat with a rear-view camera and a necktie that has a microphone implanted and a feature that will allow the tie to burn when activated in a regular Bond/Q Department scene. As soon as he changes clothes he is ambushed from sliding glass mirrors and shot from several angles which turns out to be the gadget department showing Fury that the cloths are, in fact, bullet proof! Wow. There has to be a safer way to demonstrate this! Nick Fury is quite a forgiving man.

We jump to a different scene with a Hydra defector attempting to deliver microfilm to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Hydra agents moving in on him. The defector is shot just as he tosses the film to the S.H.I.E.L.D agent on the train. Hydra calls in a wing of helicopters to pursue the train, board it and search for the agent with the microfilm. He hands it off to another couple of agents in an automobile. As they're discovered and chased, they head for the sea to which their car transforms into a sub and they escape. But only for a short while, the Hydra Undersea Assault Force catch up to the sub/car and they are destroyed off camera.
Agent of SHIELD by DocShaner

The mission's failure is witnessed from a S.H.I.E.L.D HQ or safe house by an agent named Gabe and Dum Dum Dugan where Fury joins them. Fury gets them all caught up about Hydra's Betatron Bomb that is set to launch soon. With this weapon the organization will hold the world's nations hostage. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team head off through a secret passage to a bullet car transport to the next scene. To the Intercontinental Ballistic Plane where they plan to confront the missile launch head on.

The story cuts to a board meeting of Imperial Industries International showing the effect Hydra has on economics, etc. Farrington, the head of the company is strong-arming members to vote the way he'd desire. After the meeting adjourns we watch as Farrington makes his way down his own secret passage. He adorns the Hydra hood and uniform and is revealed as Master of Hydra! He rewards the agents that prevented the microfilm falling into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s hands. This is a contradiction to all of the punishment that was being dealt out in the previous issues. 

Special Agent G requests private audience with the Master. Agent G is Farrington/The Master's daughter (previously Agent H. The change in code-name is unclear or they are two different characters) where she tries to dissuade him from using the Betatron Bomb. He argues with her for removing her mask! and claiming all of this with the bomb is for her! And then he gives the order to launch!

Until this retrospective into S.H.I.E.L.D. I hadn't realized how popular this Strange Tales series was. In the late '80s and '90s Nick Fury seemed like an old homage character that didn't make sense. There was a lot of nostalgia in his foundation that new comic fans couldn't know. Reading these issues is giving me that appreciation for the Silver Age characters.

Check out Strange Tales 135 and 136

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