This is from August 1965, and Spy Mania has taken over (just as, a decade earlier, Westerns ruled pop culture). James Bond, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., I SPY, THE AVENGERS, THE IPCRESS FILE... it was a good time to be a fan of spy thrillers. Marvel (as was their policy) hopped on the bandwagon as it rolled past. The Human Torch strip in STRANGE TALES was awful feeble to be honest and Johnny got the boot. Taking over with a new cover feature in STRANGE TALES# 135 was none other than Nick Fury, THE Nick Fury who was at the same time appearing in SGT FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS every month. The Howlers comic was set in WW II but then, at this point that was only twenty years earlier. Fury would be realistic in his mid-forties in present-day stories, although a very tough and rugged mid-forties sort of guy. I doubt if Stan Lee (or Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko) had expected super-heroes to last more than five years or so before being replaced by a fad for romance or funny animal comics. It had been so in the past. To the surprise of most pros, however, super-heroes took root big time and are still dominating American comic books today. As decades rolled by, Fury's age had to be explained by his use of
Fury was also a rough, unpolished guy from the streets, usually unshaven and with a cigar in his mouth, speaking like a son of the Lower East Side. This changed when Jim Steranko took over the feature. In one splash page, Steranko showed Fury in a barber's chair getting a shave. After that, Fury became slick, smooth-talking and more handsome than rugged... in fact, he shortly looked more like Jim Steranko than Jack Kirby. The Steranko SHIELD issues are great stuff, some of the best comics of that era. But, to me, it really wasn't the same Nick Fury who would have a beer while playing pool in a dingy bar late at night.