Nick Fury Best Comics (1961-1971)
Updated: May 29, 2021
Nick Fury. Howling Commando to Director of S.H.I.E.L.D and one of the greatest fighters in Marvel comics. If you're wondering why he doesn't look like Samuel L. Jackson, this character was originally created as white by Stan Lee in 1963 before this was changed in 2001 for the Ultimate comics (an alternate universe to the mainstream Marvel comics) as Brian Michael Bendis created a Black Nick Fury that looked remarkably like Samuel L. Jackson which actually led to the actor being cast in the role. Eventually, a new Nick Fury was brought into the mainstream comics who was also Black and was revealed to be the previous Nick Fury's unknown son. Confused? Don't worry about it. The comics I'm talking about are based around the original character. Stan Lee created him for the new battle magazine for Marvel called Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos following Fury and his men as they fight in World War II against the Germans and occasionally the Japanese, introducing each soldier with distinct backstories, quirks, and catchphrases that makes them all unique (especially Dum Dum Dugan). But what made the comic special was that the writers told special stories about the war, about trauma, and people's different perspectives, and the effect it has on both sides. Later, Stan Lee brought Fury into the present day as he becomes the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and starred in an intense spy drama that lasted a few years with even a few characters from Howling Commandos. Fury is as tough as they come. You can see from the MCU that the character is untrusting, hard as nails, and always doing his best to protect the world. Well this guy's no different. He's a soldier, always fighting the good fight but never losing himself to it. And when the war ends, he graduates to fighting the secret wars the public doesn't need to know about. And he never forgets his values, protecting his men and having their best interests at heart, even if he did yell at them a lot to get to work. It's what made him so popular that he lasted all this time. Here are some of his best stories from his earliest days:
16. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Annual Vol 1. 2: A Day of Thunder
This story is basically the comic at its biggest. In this oversized issue, the Howling Commandos are tasked with rounding up all the Nazi commanding officers in preparation for the D-Day invasion. After that, they get involved with the French Resistance and then help with the invasion on the beach, one of the only times they are ever in an actual battle as most of the time they are out performing missions. This story is just packed to the brim with action as the Commandos take part in one of the most important events in WWII.
15. Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol 1. 7: Hours of Madness, Day of Death
Nick Fury has been poisoned. Injected with intense hallucinogens, Fury struggles to find some help in a world that literally doesn't make sense. Knowing he can't trust anything he sees or hears, he desperately tries to find his way back to his allies and fight off the drugs in his system.This story has intense, graphic art but also shows off Fury's tenacity and strength of will as no matter what, he keeps fighting even if he's imagining everything happening to him.
14. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Vol 1. 13: Fighting Side-by-Side with Captain America and Bucky
Just as the title promised, this story has the commandos fighting alongside the famous duo Captain America and Bucky to help shut down a Nazi operation to invade Britain. From the beginning, Fury doesn't really respect Captain America, seeing him as only a figurehead and not an actual soldier. That is, until he fights alongside him and sees him as the true American soldier he is, creating a lasting friendship in Marvel comics. This story didn't have as much of a team-up as was promised but was still a fun read and a cool guest star.
13. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Vol 1. 18-19: Killed in Action
This is one of the saddest tales as it features the death of Fury's girlfriend, Pamela, just as he plans to propose to her. With the title on the cover, readers weren't sure who was going to die, thinking it might be one of the Howlers and Lee continuing to make it seem like it was Fury himself until the end when it is revealed that Pamela was killed in a bombing. Then the next issue has Fury out for revenge, taking on the commander who ordered the bombing with his men along for the ride. One of the first stories where a major love interest was killed off and that didn't shy away from showing the casualties of war.
12. Strange Tales Vol 1. 160-167: Yellow Claw
When S.H.I.E.L.D. comes under attack by a mysterious new enemy, Fury teams up with Captain America for a couple issues before bringing in Jimmy Woo (who is much more serious than his MCU counterpart) to take on the Yellow Claw, a powerful new foe (actually an old one, he and Jimmy Woo appeared in their own series in the 1950s). The storyline is a little convoluted but the artwork is fantastic, writer Jim Steranko taking on those duties as well and going all in on it. And it does keep one guessing as the battles get bigger and the mysteries get deeper right up until the end reveal with a massive revelation that took me completely by surprise and made the whole story well-worth reading, even if didn't make much sense and was a little racist.
11. Strange Tales Vol 1. 168: Today Earth Died
The last story of Nick Fury on the Strange Tales comic line before getting his full-sized story in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it went out with a bang. Ignore the cover, Fury and Doctor Strange shared the comic and had alternating covers so this isn't a crossover. In the story, Fury has to deal with a UFO appearing in the middle of the city and from there, things just go insane as Fury tries to understand what is happening and how to deal with it while rapidly losing control. A more introspective story with again fantastic art.
10. Strange Tales Vol 1. 146-149: Rise of A.I.M.
A.I.M. is one of the biggest villainous organizations in Marvel, a crime syndicate formed of scientists who try to acquire power through technological means. Here, they take on Nick Fury, trying to oust him as leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to take control of it and all its tech. This is just a fun story that shows the origin to a great Marvel villain faction as well as featuring some unconventional action as S.H.I.E.L.D. fights against androids and robots as well as men in beekeeper suits (hazmat suits in the shape of beekeeper suits). And then, of course, there's the end reveal that everyone S.H.I.E.L.D. has been fighting has just been working for their archenemy, Hydra.
9. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Vol 1. 1: Seven Against the Nazis
The very first issue of the comic which introduces Fury as well as his men Dum Dum Dugan, Rebel Ralston, Izzy Cohen, Dino Manelli, Gabe Jones, and Junior Juniper (who sadly gets killed off a few issues later). Each man unique with their own characteristics and qualities that makes them endearing to fans. It also introduces how dangerous their missions were, how they are always on the verge of death and risk it all each and every day and the horrors of war.
8. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Vol 1. 6: Bigotry
When the Commandos are down a man, they get temporary replacement George Stonewell on their mission. The only problem is, Stonewell is as racist as they come, refusing to work with Jewish Izzy Cohen and Black Gabe Jones. Lee discusses here the racist and prejudiced viewpoint that existed as Stonewell's view is eerily similar to that of the Nazis, that he was better somehow simply because he was white. And yet, the Commandos still save his life, because that is the kind of people they are.
7. Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol 1. 1, 5: Who is and Whatever Happened to Scorpio?
Two stories spread out but each one focusing on the villain Scorpio. The first one played out like a detective noir film, multiple storythreads colliding in ways one wouldn't expect and multiple surprises coming out of left field. Then, in the fifth issue, the stakes are raised as Fury is mistaken for an LMD (Life-Model Decoy, basically an android) and used to test S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new weapons. And behind the curtain is the mysterious Scorpio, pulling the strings with his motivations ever a mystery.
6. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Vol 1. 28-29: Armageddon
One of the biggest stories of the comic and Lee's last one (he didn't even finish the story, just the first issue with Roy Thomas doing the next) and one of his best. Featuring the epic confrontation of Nick Fury and Baron von Strucker, his nemesis who he has battled many times at this point. Lee also goes deep into Strucker's mindset as he is ordered to raze a town and he finds himself doubting Hitler and the Nazi regime, not willing to kill in cold-blood. Thrills, suspense, and intense action follow, ending with Fury and Strucker dueling in ruins with fire around them, each intent on killing the other. Stan Lee really went out with a bang with this one.
5. Strange Tales Vol 1. 136-140: Rise of Hydra
The first story arc of Fury's series as he does battle with the infamous organization Hydra while they try their very best to kill him and end S.H.I.E.L.D and thus better usher in their rise to power. This story shows off the power of Hydra as S.H.I.E.L.D. struggles to keep fighting while constantly on the defensive. An epic spy drama that set the bar for what came next as well as introducing one of the greatest evil syndicates in Marvel lore.
4. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Vol 1. 75: The Deserter
One of the saddest and greatest tales told as the Commandos deal with a deserter. Told through flashbacks as they watch the man himself get lined up for execution, the Commandos remember the soldier as one of the bravest, high-spirited soldiers until the first bomb hits and he succumbs to PTSD. This was undiscovered in WWII, so soldiers who ran were labeled as cowards and were typically executed. And this soldier is no different, with the final closing with the sound effects of the gunshots. Another casualty in the horror of war.
3. Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos Vol 1. 45: The War-Lover
Some people hate war. Some just deal with it. And some love it. Here is one such man, who loves fighting and wants to kill every enemy soldier he can find, and then some. The Commandos are sent to rescue him from an enemy prison but then struggle to bring him back as he wants to fight every man he can see. Then, they find themselves fighting him as he wishes to execute surrendering soldiers. One of Fury's best qualities is his compassion, willing to show mercy. But he's also one of the best fighters, and if he turned out like this man, the world would be much worse. Another reflective story that stands the test of time.
2. Strange Tales Vol 1. 135: The Man for the Job
Nick Fury's first modern day comic and the story that intoduces S.H.I.E.L.D. and their Helicarrier as well as many of their wonderful gadgets as Fury is targeted by the agents of Hydra and hunted down before he can stop their rise to power. The most dangerous job interview ever as Fury is offered the position of director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop threats like Hydra and others and protect the world. A non-stop action story from beginning to end and definitely one of the best.
1. Strange Tales Vol 1. 150-158: The Return of Hydra
Hydra is back and better than ever, under new management and going all out on their siege of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Fury and his men constantly trying to keep up and find ways to defeat their foe. Jim Steranko takes on writing duties from Lee and knocks it out of the park with these bigger and better stories packed into one saga. It also brings Baron von Strucker from Sgt. Fury into another epic confrontation and Fury's deadliest battle yet. A spy thriller packed with action taken to the next level as Fury leaves it all on the table to come up victorious, showing off how even if he doesn't have superpowers, he still knows the age-old mantra of never giving up even when it seems hopeless.
And that's Fury. The stories sadly got worse later on which led to the series's cancellation. But he still has good stories, transferring over to Captain America instead. But he didn't have many ongoing tales after this. Next up: Doctor Strange.