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When Marvel Reprinted the Story Stan Lee Said They'd Never Reprint!

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

Recently, I wrote about how Jim Starlin explained how Nick Fury was still roughly the same age in the mid-1970s that he was when he was a sergeant during World War II.

In Marvel Spotlight #31 (art by Howard Chaykin), we learn that Fury had been exposed to the "Infinity Formula." It saved his life during the war, but now he needs to be re-exposed to it every year or he will automatically age into his 80s...

Some bad guys, though, took over the formula and now are blackmailing Fury. However, the bad guys ALSO lose the formular. Fury beats up the head bad guy, who turns out was also exposed to the Infinity Formula...

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As Nick is about to die from his ultra-aging, his girlfriend, the Contessa, shows up and it turns out that SHE stole the formula and so now Fury has a ready available supply of the Infinity Formula to keep his aging under control from this point on...

We're all used to Nick Fury being a bit of a sketchy character when it comes to ethics. That's normal now, but back in the late 1970s, Fury was a bit more of a noble guy and therefore, Lee did not like the idea of Fury embezzling money at all. Jim Starlin explained to Sean Howe in Marvel Comics: The Untold Story what Lee's problem was with the book:

“Stan always had trouble with the stuff I did,” Starlin said, pointing to “The Infinity Formula,” a Nick Fury story he wrote while he was also working on Warlock. “I had Fury embezzling funds so he could get this formula that would extend his life. Stan was so upset by it he said it would never be used in Marvel continuity, or ever reprinted.“

The story was quickly reprinted in England, but it is unlikely Lee had any idea of that...

Stan Lee famously wrote the introductions for Origins of Marvel Comics...

It sold so well that they did Son of Origins of Marvel Comics...

Well, sure enough, in the late 1990s, Marvel did Grandson of Origins of Marvel Comics and it included the revelation of Fury's Infinity Formula.

Stan kept it from being reprinted for almost twenty years, at least!

If anyone has a suggestion for a future Knowledge Waits (basically, anything comic book related that you think would be interesting to see me write about), drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com

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