Before government agents scared me...
Speaking of Nick Fury, which I was in my last post, here’s the cover of the very first Marvel comic I ever bought with my own money — Strange Tales #135, which featured the debut of “Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD,” a glorious 12-page story scripted by Stan “The Man” Lee and drawn by the great Jack “King” Kirby. (The bonus was a fantastic 10-page Doctor Strange story by Steve Ditko in the back of the book.) This was May 1965, I was 10 years old, the comic cost only 12¢, and of course the cover caught my eye. After all, I’d just spent eight months watching The Man from UNCLE on TV and had only that month seen Goldfinger for the first time — and I was still too young to see government agents as threatening. Very, very neat stuff for a youngster living in the middle of the Cold War.
Anyway, I collected that first full uninterrupted run of SHIELD stories right through 1968 or 1969, then sold them all for pennies when I moved away to college in 1972. I wish to God I still had ’em. But here’s the good news. While web-browsing yesterday afternoon, I discovered that all the episodes (Strange Tales #135-153) right up to Jim Steranko’s groundbreaking run have been collected for the very first time into a hardcover book as part of the Marvel Masterworks series; they’ve also thrown in Fury’s appearance with Captain America in Tales of Suspense #78 (1966) and his 1963 pre-SHIELD appearance in Fantastic Four #21 (1963). Naturally, I ordered a copy right away. I’ve been dying to read these tales again for more than two decades. (I imagine the Steranko tales will appear eventually in a Marvel Masterworks: Nick Fury Vol. 2, and I’ll order the book as soon as I hear of it. But those mindblowing, state-of-the-art stories, which shook up the comics industry in the late 1960s, were republished a few years ago in a paperback edition, so I’ve revisited them recently. It’ll be great to have them in hardcover, though.)
Life is good.