"Fury: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary" #1 features not just one, but both incarnations of Nick Fury in a fitting tale that bookends the early and modern incarnations of Marvel's premiere super-spy organization. Writer David F. Walker starts off the issue with two separate but parallel stories which eventually merge into one, and artist Lee Ferguson tentatively steps through both worlds in a decent -- if convenient -- tale. It's not a bad commemoration by any means, but it's a somewhat lightweight celebration for such a significant milestone.
Short of the characters' costumes, Ferguson doesn't present much of a backdrop to show readers the difference between 1965 and 2015; the only blatant indicator is letterer Clayton Cowles' captions stating as much. Walker picks up the slack, though, with some carefully crafted period phrases and expressions evoking the 1960s. He also initiates a pair of similarly-themed tales with subtle differences, which sets up as a comparison between the fledgling S.H.I.E.L.D. versus the evolved version familiar to current readers. This dichotomy serves as a compelling hook, so it's almost disappointing when Walker decides to combine the stories by transporting Nick Fury Jr. back in time to his father's era. The story he tells from this point on is perfectly capable but almost seems like a bit of a cheat.
As rendered by Ferguson, the first Nick Fury just doesn't look like the grizzled war veteran he's known to be; instead, he's kind of smoothed out around the edges, looking a little too clean shaven and not quite a physical match for the dialogue Walker puts in the character's mouth. The coiffed Fury Jr., who tells Sr. to actually call him "Junior," is handled better by Ferguson, who captures the right kind of genericized Samuel L. Jackson look without trying to detail a precise likeness.
Walker relies on some rather glaring contrivances to make his story work; Fury Jr. is able to return to present day uneventfully, though it could have made an interesting story where the dynamic between the two Furys were explored further. In its place, readers are asked to buy the contrived notion S.H.I.E.L.D. has a collection of time portals conveniently lying around the world, enabling Junior to return home without incident. Walker also uses an old story device: attempting to kill a future world leader while he's still a child. However, the Hatemonger's targets might not be all that obvious to readers unless they do a little research once the story's over.
"Fury: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary" #1 isn't all that special a celebration, but it's fun enough despite not living up to its potential.