Main Art by ACO, Hugo Petrus & Rachelle Rosenberg
Writer: James Robinson
Inker: Hugo Petrus
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 19, 2017
Even in the strange world of superhero continuity, the story of how Nick Fury “became black” is bizarre. In the Ultimate universe, artist Bryan Hitch modeled Fury on Samuel L. Jackson way back in 2002, six years before the actor took on the role. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe spread this version of Fury through popular culture, synergy demanded that Marvel’s comic universe introduce a black son of the original white, cigar-chompin’ General. This second-generation Fury existed as a reassuring pat on the head to confused moviegoers who somehow ended up in a comic store. Not much of note has been done with him, aside from Ales Kot and Michael Walsh’s glorious Secret Avengers run.
But now Nick Fury, Jr. is getting his moment in the spotlight with his first solo series, written by James Robinson and illustrated by ACO. Story-wise, issue one presents a promising start. As for the art—well, strap yourself into your S.H.I.E.L.D. flying car. This is the kind of comic you’ll want to look at all day and all night. ACO, bolstered by inker Hugo Petrus and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, is a visual wizard.
Writer/artist/designer Jim Steranko’s seminal 1960s Fury stories were meant to redefine the World War II hero as Marvel’s James Bond. This new series embraces that mission, as Fury breaks into a casino—the quintessential spy setting—in search of Hydra data. Alongside the heist, Robinson and ACO introduce Frankie Noble as the foil while establishing the young protagonist’s badass credentials. The story is as simple as the art is complex, though some groundwork is laid for what (let us pray) may be a lengthy run.
With all due respect to Robinson, who writes a lean yet witty script, this series is all about ACO, one of the most inventive artists in comics as he demonstrated during his revelatory Midnighter run with writer Steve Orlando. You could write a dissertation about this art, complete with chapters on ever-shifting panel shapes and sizes, branching maps that show character awareness and disorienting, psychedelic violence. Major kudos to colorist Rosenberg, whose day-glo palette recalls the pop-art influence of Steranko and gives this comic a radiant glow.
Time will tell if the writing and overall story can rise to the quality of the visuals, or if they need to. The art is undeniably gorgeous and unique among Marvel’s current stable. Fury also provides a complementary balance to another exemplary Marvel series: the Chris Samnee/Mark Waid Black Widow run, which began with an all-action issue that felt light on story, but quickly deepened into an engrossing contemporary classic. No matter what follows, you need this issue if you dig spy adventures and the highest level of psychedelic comic art.