The mark of a good story is one that, regardless of when you read it, it feels alive. Folks that read Tom Sawyer today are immediately drawn into the world that Mark Twain has created. It doesn’t matter that the story is set in the 1800’s, the way Mr. Clemens wrote that story, it could happen today for all I care. You know these characters intimately and care about them from first page to last.
And then you get stories like this. This was just…my god it’s bad. The writer of the piece is one Jim Steranko. (I’ll go into his history a bit later.) The story in question is a weird fusion of three separate stories that just don’t work together. The main story involves Nick Fury discovering someone named Scorpio is out to get him. Fine and dandy…if it weren’t saddled with two other stories, one involving a failed comedian who gambles too much and a mobster who was heading to Vegas to collect some money. Mr. Steranko tries and fails miserably this issue to try and meld those stories together.
The main story is Nick Fury and Scorpio. But it’s tough to call it a story because you don’t really know why the hell Scorpio is after Nick Fury. Well it’s a comic book, you may argue. Future issues will detail why he is out to get him. Yeah, doing a little research on the character (Thanks reddit!) I discovered that Scorpio does in fact have a very personal connection to Nick Fury and a reason to want revenge against him. Not that he’s right in his thinking but still it’s something that is not touched upon at all in the issue.
There really is nothing moving the story forward. There is just a simple premise that someone named Scorpio is after Fury. Everything else in the issue revolves around pure luck or pure stupidity in the case of the failed comedian. The side story is about a guy who owes the mob money. By the end of the issue he is mistaken for the mobster who was heading to Vegas to pick up some money and he gets the money instead. Thinking he has all his problems solved, he proceeds to try and call home. But whoops, there’s a bomb in the briefcase where he thought the money was. So bye bye douche bag. A character we are given no reason to like is killed. We’ve had our time wasted on a pointless story that does nothing for what we are reading at all. It was almost like the editor, Stan Lee, told Mr. Steranko that the issue didn’t have enough drama so they shoehorned a story in that was supposed to be a morality tale about how evil gambling was. Fuck that guy. Anyone thinking their problems were solved that simply deserves a quick death.
The story of the mobster is even worse. He’s almost a dead ringer for the comedian which is how the guy gets the money in the first place. The only reason the mobster appears to be included in the story is to have someone shoot the shot that appears to bring down the ship that Scorpio was attempting to escape from. Then he dies. And you wonder why you should care because he was in the story on just a couple page. They should have just named him Deus Ex Machina. Without him, Scorpio escapes. But without him, the story still happens pretty much as it happens. Why they couldn’t have Fury take the shot is beyond me. Nick Fury was a soldier who would not hesitate to shoot a bad guy. You could even explain it that maybe he didn’t want to kill the guy but was looking to bring the plane down and Scorpio, being a bad pilot, crashed. I get that maybe you don’t want your hero just shooting folks but come the fuck on.
Now onto the art. While the art is very much dated it is pretty much the only thing that can keep your interest in the story. There was a scene early on where a bomb goes off in the desert and you discover that Nick Fury was in the blast radius testing a special suit. The drawing Mr. Steranko uses to illustrate the explosion is a black and white drawing, abstract, but amazing in the power it shows.
The art looked quite familiar. There was a familiarity to it that I just couldn’t put my finger on. Then a little research brought this image.
Jim Steranko was responsible for how the Indiana Jones movies looked. He drew the preproduction images that were used to make the movies into what they became. He also did work with other movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula from Francis Ford Coppola. So at the end of the day, no matter how much I didn’t care for the story in this issue, the art saves the day.
I can’t recommend this comic. I just can’t. While the artwork, especially the cover, and worth a view, the story just makes you shake your head at how fucking horrible everything is. You can’t have a story where everything just happens by chance and the main character is just reacting to everything. That is not a good story. It’s not even a story, it’s just a glimpse into the life of a rather unlucky person. How can you be expected to care a lick what is going on when you don’t know the motivation for the bad guys actions and when half the characters in the story are there simply to take up pages that could have been used to better explain what the hell was going on in the main story? The seed of a story is there. I would have liked to know how Scorpio got his troops in SHIELD. I would have liked to have known WHY he had a grudge against Nick Fury. Instead we get something that passes for a story with artwork that, while it most certainly is dated, is still pretty interesting to look at.