Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by David Aja, Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano
Colours by Jose Villarrubia
I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly won over by the debut four issue arc Brubaker offered us on this title. I didn’t think it was bad, and it wasn’t, but while the first issue was extremely dominant the proceeding three issues just seemed a little average with some aspects actually not that good. It wasn’t what we hoped and so we, as a collective, generally complained pretty loudly. That feeling of being let down can probably disappear now with this issue and its hints for the future.
As set up in the first arc, we saw Nick Fury in a strange outfit and claiming to work for the Shadow Council. He stole something from these Secret Avengers and then he disappeared. It was pretty Fury like behavior and you couldn’t be certain if this Fury was the real deal or just another LMD. In this issue, Brubaker turns all the cards over.
We follow Fury five years ago as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents track him through Paris. When he’s finally captured, by the real Fury, we get the truth, or at least the truth presented to us. The Fury we had followed, and the one who has appeared in Secret Avengers thus far, is actually an LMD (Life Model Decoy – a fake version). Cue the groans if you want but I think Brubaker works hard to earn this one. It seems this LMD was created by Fury’s villain brother, Zodiac, over a decade prior and was given the true consciousness of Fury. He’s not just a robot, he’s a synthetic man, like the Vision or the original Torch and so this does make him one step closer to being a real man.
This LMD believes he is Fury, he has all the memories, he’s convinced. Then the good guys win and he discovers he’s not the real Fury, he’s a copy, he kind of loses its mind. It’s a pretty good explanation because if you were certain you were real and then found out you weren’t it would be kind of shocking. The memories and consciousness were obviously placed in to the LMD very well and so the news that he’s just a copy, and probably an unwanted one, is going to be bad news for sure.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has spent the better part of a decade studying this free thinking LMD and he keeps regressing to believe he’s the real deal. He also keeps escaping to do what Fury does best; bust up terrorist cells. He goes after HYDRA and A.I.M. any time he gets the chance and he does it well because he is, for want of any further investigation, Nick Fury.
There’s a great moment of growth for the character where he comes face to face with the real Nick Fury once more and Fury just wants this copy to realize what it is but instead the LMD replies “I’m not you…I’m me./Whoever that is.” You can see that this synthetic man believes he still has a place in the world and he’s right. He shouldn’t be locked up or studied. He should be allowed to work and do good, because that’s all he’s trying to do. It’s not his fault he was created but he certainly doesn’t feel it’s fair to have to die.
The man from the Shadow Council who saves Max is John Steele. You can be forgiven if you have no idea who that is but if you read Brubaker’s eight issue history of the Marvel Universe, The Marvels Project, then you’d recognize the name as someone who used to be very important. He was a soldier, and he was very good at his job. His inclusion here means a lot for the Shadow Council because it gives them the possibility of being a good group. Perhaps a harsh and clandestine group but a force for righting the world nonetheless.
This reveal, of both the Shadow Council and Max Fury, opens up the Secret Avengers title for a very interesting future. It seems that Brubaker is going to be building a very cool story here and this issue is the first major building block of it all. This title is going to create something very big and I am certainly glad I’m in on the ground floor. The first arc might have made me worried but I’ll attribute it to big game nerves and allow this issue to win me back completely.
It’s nice to see Brubaker offer another great single issue story. It reminds me of the effective recap, world building Brubaker is capable of while still giving an interesting story. He did this in Daredevil #510 when he focused on the Kingpin. That issue gave us the missing time of the Kingpin and quickly caught us up and established why he would want to come back to Hell’s Kitchen and get involved in the Hand. It was a brilliant piece of storytelling, and even had Aja on art duties, and having an issue like this every once in a while can work wonders for the reading audience.
It's also interesting to note that there are eight members, that we know of, on the Secret Avengers roster. Only two of those agents make an appearance in this comic, and it's just in the framing device. The other guys and girls are absent but this comic doesn't suffer for that at all. It's a respite issue and much like I had no trouble reading an entire issue of Daredevil devoted to the Kingpin I also have no worries reading all about Fury here instead of the usual team.