Or – “John Steed Vs. James Bond… Who’d Win? GO!!.”
The post-war adventures of Nick Fury and his “Avengers Initiative” continue, but can even Howard Chaykin’s work override the presence of Wolverine’s big brother/daddy/what-have-you?
Previously, in Avengers 1959: In the years after the initial wave of Marvels, Captain America is on ice, the Sub-Mariner is wandering the bowery and the Human Torch lies dormant in the desert. The newly-promoted Colonel Nick Fury gathers a new group of heroes to create the Avengers Initiative: Dominic Fortune, Sergei “Kraven The Hunter” Kravinoff, Victor “Sabretooth” Creed, Ulysses Bloodstone, Ernst “Silver Sable” Sablinova, and Princess Namora of Atlantis were his first recruits. Last issue, the heroes were attacked by an unknown group of foes, each wearing the same skull-head emblem. (Uh-oh.) Now, Nick Fury and someone who looks VERY familiar have to work together to keep his agents from being the next victims of this faceless entity in shadow.
YEAH, THAT’S PRETTY CLEARLY JOHN STEED.
Last issue, an Englishman in a bowler hat showed up at Fury’s apartment, and declared, “Mr. Fury, we’re needed.” This issue opens seconds later, as he introduces himself as Powell McTeague, and shares his intel on the strange skull-headed league (which I think we all suspect is going to be revealed as Hydra.) There’s some lovely character work in this issue as Nick and McTeague set off for Europe, hooking up with Eric Koenig (a former German soldier, late of Sergeant Fury’s Howling Commandos) and enjoying some lovely banter back and forth. And, this being a Howard Chaykin joint, we have to get a little black lingerie, modeled in this case by Louise “Blonde Phantom” Mason (whom most of you remember from John Byrne’s She-Hulk, if you remember her at all.) Louise has been canoodling with a former Nazi who is into some strange shenanigans, leading to the key scene of the issue: Nick Fury and The Blonde Phantom blasting the hell out of a pack of Nazi Zombies. (I think I’ve played this particular game a time or two, though Fury makes a better wingman than my friend Eric.)
BUT NO MRS. PEEL. I AM SADDENED…
While Nick & Weezie fight the living dead in Latveria (Hey, now waittaminute), the rest of the team is in the South Pacific, tracking another lead. Chaykin’s art has grown more and more stylized throughout the last couple of decades, to the point where one of my associates calls him “Milk Jug Man” because his character’s skulls are shaped like… You get this part, right? Anyway, I have a similar moment, as a ship full of Nazis (led by Brain Drain and Baron Blood) is attacked by the A-1959 (Kraven, Namora, Sabretooth and Dominic Fortune) who look for all the world like they’re dancing a conga line as they leap out of the ocean. If you have problems with Howie’s art style recently, there’s nothing in this issue that will change your mind, but I enjoy the art throughout. The issue ends with our fearsome foursome fighting a horde of Nazi cyborg vampire bats (it’s like a superhero comics version of Mad Libs) until Powell McTeague teleports in, showing what seem to be magical powers and bon mots: “What say we send these misbegotten monsters t0 a well-deserved HELL and be done with it?” It’s a nice ending…
THE VERDICT: STILL LAMENTING THE SABRETOOTH…
I have to admit, the presence of Victor Creed was the main reason that I didn’t pick up issue #1 of this book when it hit the stands, seeming like a cheap excuse to “Wolverine up” a book that could have been mercifully healing factor & claw-free. It was a mistake on my part, as I quickly discovered after reading last issue. This book is a goldmine of interesting things, from the Wakandan ambassador to the use of old-school nazi villains to a fortyish Blond Phantom in action. With the sliding timescale of the Marvel Universe, whole decades have become deforested of stories that could actually have happened, so it’s nice to see the late 50’s getting some in-continuity tales with characters who should have been there, even if I didn’t care for them. Nick Fury. Dominic Fortune. Vampires. Dominatrix Gear. Is this Howard Chaykin’s dream gig or what? And most importantly, Avengers: 1959 #2 hits a sweet spot for me, telling a story that fits into continuity without bludgeoning me to death with the new movie continuity, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Has anybody explained how Dominic Fortune was active during the Spanish Civil War and is still in action in recent issues of Hawkeye & Mockingbird?