Marvel Comics' Nick Fury has inherited more from his legendary father than just a name. Like his dad, Junior is a former military man who’s stepped into the dangerous and morally murky world that is espionage in the Marvel U, and he has yet to lead S.H.I.E.L.D., but in the short time he’s worked with the organization he’s become one of its top operatives. This April, he’ll inherit another part of his father’s legacy as he headlines the ongoing “Nick Fury” series by writer James Robinson and artist ACO.
The comic will focus on Fury’s globetrotting exploits as a solo operative of S.H.I.E.L.D. and provide new, modern takes on the classic, psychedelic, Jim Steranko style tales that his father was known for. CBR spoke with Robinson about Fury's current role, the new Hydra operative that will be the young spy's chief foil, and working Marvel style with ACO.
CBR: Let's start by talking about your title character. What's your sense of Nick? In what ways do you think he's similar to his legendary father, and in what ways is he different?
James Robinson: That's an interesting question about this character. I always kind of felt that people were more so doing a version of the Ultimate Marvel Nick Fury than trying to make him distinctly his own guy. I'm trying to make him more like his father in that, at times his father was this sort of gruff, military, C.I.A agent who is very much an extension of who he was when he was Sgt. Fury. If you remember, though, during Steranko's run and the runs of some other creators he was a very stylish guy, too. He was very much Marvel's James Bond.
This is ACO and I trying to create that version for this new character. Every time you've seen him in the past, he's been in some variation of his battle suit; the S.H.I.E.L.D. suit that Steve Rogers wore when he came back from the dead and before he resumed being Captain America. He wears that suit a couple times in these first 6 issues, but a lot of the time he's in a business suit, he looks debonair. Instead of just modeling Nick after your standard movie spy we took some inspiration from contemporary men’s fashion.
What can you tell us about the missions Nick will undertake in the book? Will this be tied into Marvel's “Secret Empire” event?
The capers he'll embark on in this series are not tied to current plots with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra over in “Captain America,” or events like “Secret Empire.”
Each issue follows Fury on a different assignment in a different part of the world. In issue #1, he’ll be on the French Riviera. In Issue #4, he'll be in Atlantis. The stories will have a feel similar to things like “Mission Impossible” and “Ocean's 11,” but they'll also have an element of “Spy Vs. Spy” in that I've given him an archenemy -- a new character named Frankie. She's a bad-ass, crazy Hydra agent who's very much on her own. She's a solo operative for Hydra in the same way Nick Fury is for S.H.I.E.L.D. in this book.
As an agent of Hydra, is she guided by any ideology, or is she more of a bon vivant James Bond-style character?
She is following orders, but normally Hydra agents are this faceless horde who attack en masse. She's a solo agent who accomplishes things on her own. She very much is like an evil, female James Bond or a Modesty Blaise, on the wrong side of what's right and wrong.
Obviously this is a series that will feature plenty of action, but what else are you interested in exploring?
This is about Fury as an operative. The book is about missions and capers. It’s fun and fast and visually unlike anything else out there. I do touch on Fury’s inner perspective of his actions and the lineage he shares with his father, as the series unfolds, but I wanted action to be front and center.
ACO's art is incredible. I had the pleasure of working with him on an issue of “Squadron Supreme,” which was sort of my dry run for “Nick Fury.” I was amazed by everything he's done. So the book really looks unlike anything I've ever seen.
We are borrowing a little bit from Steranko, but at the same time it feels very fresh and new. One of the things that each issue has that's very Steranko and Eisner is the title of the story is drawn into the art as a three dimensional thing. I always loved that in the “Spirit.” Some of those splashes with the title drawn in were pretty amazing.
I understand you and ACO are almost working Marvel style.
Yes, one of the things about this book was there was no way I could tell ACO what to do better than he can tell himself, so I wrote the book in a way I've only done for a few artists, like Paul Smith. I would do a very detailed plot, and then I would do all of the dialogue.
One of the things that can happen when you work Marvel style like this is that if an artist isn't a really good storyteller they can miss those moments of nuance -- the emotional pauses and the moments of quiet before the storm. When you write full script you can include those, beats. I've always been a writer who probably puts too much in my scripts, but I'd rather have more ideas and have some discarded than not have enough and leave the artist high and dry.
So for ACO, I’m writing a detailed plot with all of the dialogue page by page. That gives him the freedom to break things down. Sure, sometimes I might suggest how a page might look, but with the caveat that if he wants to add panels or change things around he can. In terms of the unique look of the book this is very much a collaboration and a showcase for the talents of Alex Cal Oliveira AKA ACO.
If you like or are curious about “Nick Fury” please don't trade wait this book. Give it a read as a monthly. It's a really thrilling book and I'm very excited to be working with ACO on it.