Nick Fury didn’t always look like Sam Jackson, at first, he looked like David Hasselhoff. Marvel didn’t swap his race until 2001 with the title “Ultimate Marvel Team-Up” #1. Before directing Shield, Nick Fury was first a Sergeant during World War 2. Marching his howling commandos into battle on the front lines of each panel. But we aren’t going to talk about any of that. The year was 1966 and a young artist by the name of Jim Steranko, newly hired at Marvel was given an option to pick any character to work on. He chose the man with an eye patch and a gun. Originally penciling behind writers Stan Lee and Roy Thomas for 4 issues before taking over the character in both writing and drawing capacities. Jack Kirby had the Sergeant trade in his army fatigues for a suite and tie. But take The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and James Bond and mix it with op art,that was Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury. Neal Adams changed the way we view comics by breaking up the rows of rectangular panels. Creating new layouts. Steranko took that to the next level, infusing it with psychedelia. Jim at first was loyal to the Kirby style, keeping to the square jawed meat and potatoes stylized man. HYDRA and SHIELD were already in existence before Steranko worked for Marvel. What he did that was so different was take the clay that was a fledgling spy book and give it a new villain titled Scorpio and give the book sex appeal. Jim Sterankowas an art director, a comic book artist and a small-time rock musician. His creative influence was going to be anything but tame.Steranko worked on 17 issues of “Tales of Suspense” and 9 issues of “Nick Fury Agent of Shield” in some capacity. Whether it was any combination of cover artist, writer or inside artist. He left a legacy on the characters and comics in just 26 issues, that is the sheer importance of Jim Steranko.
Steranko’s vision and sensibilities caused a stir. The Comic’s Code Authority came down on him for drawing panels deemed inappropriate. This was a spy comic, who is going to believe that Nick Fury never had any romantic conquests? Come on Comic’s Code, it doesn’t have to be PG all the time, it can be PG-13 too. John Romita answered the call when the Comic’s Code said panels had to be redrawn. The most infamous is a scene where Nick Fury and Valentina share an intimate encounter in “Nick Fury Agent of Shield” number 2. The last panel on the page we see a holstered gun.Steranko has gone on to say that what he originally intended on submitting was not anywhere near as suggestive as a holstered gun.Visual storytelling would say this is incredibly suggesting. A gun by nature is phallic. A gun in a holster can symbolize protective sex, or maybe the gun and the holster are female and male reproductive parts. After his tenure on the character was over,Nick Fury continued to embark on adventures against the despicable HYDRA. Those adventures just didn’t have the Steranko essence to them. Like Steranko did with Kirby, honoring the man while forging his own path with the character. The forthcoming artists paid homage to Jim but without adding new flavor. Reading Nick Fury comics in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s saw minimal flashes of brilliance (“Nick Fury Vs. Shield” 1988 and “Nick Fury Agent of Shield: Death Hunt” 1976). Jim Steranko left Nick Fury in 1969. It wasn’t until 2001 that we sawNick Fury get rejuvenated. To the majority, Nick Fury is the 2001 Ultimate Universe version through in through. Tailoring him for Samuel L. Jackson to portray was a stroke of brilliance. Sam Jackson portrays Nick Fury as cool, calm and collective with soul. Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury carried the character for 30 some odd years. Sam Jackson Nick Fury, in conjunction with thesuccess of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will carry the character for years to come.