The huge, sprawling tapestry that is the Marvel Universe has been built by hundreds upon hundreds of talented creators over the years, so it's sometimes hard to remember that the entire affair was begun by just a small handful of people trying to turn out a line of comics under tight restrictions from the Comics Code and even tighter deadlines. And in those formative days, the vast majority of the fledgeling company's visuals were provided by a core four consisting of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, and Dick Ayers.
Dick Ayers was born in Ossining, New York on April 28, 1924. His interest in art was encouraged by his parents from an early age. He began contributing comic strips to military newspapers while serving in the Army Air Corps in World War II, and upon leaving the service, studied with Burne Hogarth at New York's Cartoonists And Illustrators School, and launched his professional career working for Superman co-creator Joe Shuster in the late 1940s. He found employment at a number of publishers over the next decade, working at Magazine Enterprises (for whom he co-created the supernatural western hero Ghost Rider), Charlton, Prize, and Atlas (soon to be renamed Marvel).
Civil War II is just around the corner, and the news is starting to trickle in about what exactly it’s going to be, and what comics will be included in Marvel’s massive summer event. This past weekend at C2E2, Marvel unveiled a host of Civil War II news, including several brand-new miniseries, as well as announcing some of the details for crossovers that take place in regular books.
War hero. Secret agent. Government stooge. Machiavellian mastermind. Washed-up antique. Ageless warrior. Man out of time. Roughneck brawler. Unyielding patriot. Intergalactic assassin.
Nick Fury has been all these things, and many more, since his first appearance on March 5th 1963. He's a universal plot device, a character that can be adjusted and adapted to fit whatever a given story needs. He's been young, he's been old, he's been dead, he's been everywhere at once, he's been in hiding, he's been blindsided by corruption, he's been dead again, and he's been secretly behind the scenes the whole time. He's even been replaced by robot duplicates more times than anyone can remember.
Peter Parker, the elder of Marvel's two equally important Spider-Men, teams up with Nick Fury to take on Scorpio in Amazing Spider-Man #9 by Dan Slott and Guiseppe Camuncoli, the first chapter of "Scorpio Rising."
Scorpio is of course an old enemy of the original Nick Fury, and leader of the Zodiac criminal organization (not to be confused with Zodiac Starforce). The original Scorpio was Nick Fury Sr's brother, and later the name was used by Fury's son. So whichever Scorpio this is must be related to Nick Fury Jr somehow, mostly like as an uncle or half-brother. Either way there's sure to be some drama when Nick and Peter catch up to him.
Of all the artists who've made a permanent impact on comics, Jim Steranko did so the quickest, solving the puzzle in the fewest moves. Born on this day in 1938, he's had many occupations --- artist, writer, magician, escapologist, musician, designer, publisher, scholar, innovator, raconteur, living legend, and Twitter celebrity. His life and art are so singular that only one word seems to describe him: Steranko.
There are a few indisputable truths in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the ultimate lesson is that Nick Fury ain't nothing to f--- with. The dude is practically invincible, and he doesn't have a suit of armor or special secret sauce giving him powers either. He's also Samuel L. Jackson, which in and of itself brings a sort unbreakable spirit to the character. Though Jackson himself owes more than a tiny bit of his success as the leader of SHIELD to Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, the real deal himself has been impressive in his own right.
About the only thing that's been lacking has been an equal distribution of Nick Fury action figures. While there have been a few in smaller scales based on his appearances in the recent films, Hot Toys has only released one Nick Fury sixth-scale figure to date based on his role in The Avengers. It was a decent figure, but lacked a truly special likeness. Where nearly every other Avenger has seen more than a few different figures since the start of the MCU with Iron Man, Nick's only just getting his second figure now. The good thing is, it's a beauty.
This week's Ani-Com and Games Hong Kong event is barely underway, but Hot Toys has already announced a handful of new and eagerly awaited figures in its sixth-scale Marvel line. The company's had an incredibly busy year with both the Star Wars and Marvel Cinematic Universe making up the bulk of Hot Toys' new figures. While the majority of the Avengers: Age of Ultron cast has already been shown numerous times, the ACGHK marked the debut of Quicksilver, and for the first time, an all-new Nick Fury based on his appearance in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
Neither of those reveals was as important however as the update to Guardians of the Galaxy's Drax the Destroyer. Drax has been MIA from any official release schedules, unlike the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. As the last member of the crew to be formally announced, fans had been plastering Hot Toys' social media pages with pictures of an earlier prototype, hoping against hope that eventually Hot Toys would actually have news on the character's figure instead of another new Iron Man armor to hype. Today, those dreams came true.
Pretty much every character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is making an appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Iron Man, Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Vision, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Black Panther, Ant-Man are all set to star. Heck, even Spider-Man and General Ross are part of the cast. But, there’s one major character who is conspicuously absent: Nick Fury. Even star Samuel L. Jackson has no idea why he’s not in the movie.
Welcome back to Original Spin, the unofficial recap of the Marvel comic event Original Sin, by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato -- which probably feeds in to the Marvel comic event AXIS, and somewhere in all that we'll get a lady Thor and a black Cap, and that will be very exciting. Black Captain America!
In the meantime it's still dude Thor and white and surprisingly Irish Captain America, and you have to read all these other comics that aren't the ones they're talking about in USA Today. Ugh, comics are dumb. So, to catch you up; the Watcher got shot and someone did it, and black Captain America isn't in this comic but we're desperate for attention.
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