Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
Fury: My War Gone By #1-13
MAX (Marvel Comics)
Ennis, Parlov & Loughridge
Nick Fury is a character that is deeply ingrained in the Marvel Universe, the Ultimate Universe and the movie continuity. There is an aspect to the character that is gritty and tough beyond the super-hero, super-powered levels of toughness. It's a war hero toughness. An edge that you find in people that have seen it all and continue to plow forward. Soldiers that have that thousand-yard stare, but are now command level where they knowingly send soldiers into places they can't succeed without massive loses. The description of this Nick Fury screams out for two things: an Explicit Content label and Garth Ennis. This series may start slow but it takes off in a big way and ends up being one of the most classic runs on Garth Ennis work in super hero books. This series is horribly underrated and I would track these issues down if at all possible.
The book opens with a three-issue story that is more meant to introduce the characters. Fury is brought to French Indochina by a politician named McCuskey. Fury is to assess the situation and get an understanding of the lay of the land and how America could potential influence the situation on behalf of the French and their own best interests. Fury is more of an observatory role, but that doesn't last long. Fury is given some help in the form of Agent Hatherly and gains some distraction in the form of McCuskey's assistant, Shirley.
As Ennis does often he provides a decent supporting cast, including some over-the-top characters, such as the French Army's former Nazi Sergent, Steinhoff. Ennis adds depth to the villains that Fury finds in Indochina as the political scene is shifting into the military driven landscape very quickly. The arc is very slow and is dialogue dense as Ennis really tries to establish six or seven characters in only three comics. This arc has its moments but it is by far the weakest arc, especially because the danger never seemed terribly insurmountable for Nick Fury.
The second arc picks up the pace and the intrigue significantly. Fury in Cuba in 1961 (though the memo at the beginning errantly says 1954) trying to help assassinate Fidel Castro. It's a fantastic arc that combines a collection of dirty politicians that are conspiring to kill of Fidel while using Fury and his men to carry out their deeds. Fury is dragging further into hell as the final issue provides one of the most difficult sequences to read in the entire series. Fury is forced to make some difficult choices as he's left to fry on Cuban soil. While the arc is slow to start and build in issue four, issues five and six are simply fantastic.
The third arc zooms ahead to 1970 as Fury is dragged back into Vietnam at the height of the US involvement. This arc brings more assassination attempts and more corruption but this arc is more of the mysterious variety of corruption. Fury looks for straightforward missions and straightforward explanations and he doesn't get them. However, he does get a helping hand from a special long-range expert: Frank Castle. This arc is the pinnacle of the series. Ennis is at the top of his game mixing Fury and Castle into this tangled plot in an un-winnable situation. This arc allows Fury to realize he's fighting two fronts constantly: the enemy on his missions and the one behind his missions at home.
The final three-issue arc is a great one in terms of the setting: Nicaragua in 1984. It seems to be a largely unexplored one in comic books. Fury is again dropped into a situation that has more problems than he was let on about when he was sent in. The storyline is good as Fury is faced again with a plot he simply can't solve. The part of this arc that is the least enjoyable is including that of Barracuda. Ennis had two arcs dealing with this character in his run on Punisher and he simply isn't that deep of a character and he doesn't quite fit in line with the other villain's rolls out in this series. These issues contain the most horrific scene in the entire run when Fury finds a village of slaughtered people, including women and children.
The thirteenth issue takes place in 1999 as Fury is forced to face his demons. He's sold his entire life towards war because he loves war and duty and honor and convinced himself he's made a difference or that he could make a difference with just one more try. However, he learns he hasn't done much of anything. It's a chilling final issue that punctuates a lonely and brutal existence for one man.
Parlov and Loughridge are on art throughout and it shows because the book is a magnificent visual story. The book is horrifying, but it also has aspects of lighter moments. For example, Fury finding some time to spend with women or Hatherly getting some ribbing from Fury or Shirley. Whatever the task the art holds up and provides the drama, humor, gore or tender moments with the same clarity and detail. Much of the book sticks with the five wide-screen panels that run from top to bottom on the page and I found the consistency to be a good way to tell the story. Parlov and Loughridge also provide tremendous detail in capturing the various scenery to make sure the reader is set in the correct time period. The visuals are perfect for the story as you might expect.
The series was simply far too short. The cover of the final issue gives us a glimpse of where else Ennis was planning to drop Fury, which includes Iran, Iraq and Korea. Unfortunately we are left to wonder what might have been while we can enjoy the thirteen issues Ennis and Parlov provided. The book is a deep look at war and specifically America's involvement in these wars through their own lens while providing somewhat of the opposing view at the same time. The series is a classic and I urge anyone to pick this up and give a try.
5 out of 5 Geek Goggles