Day 24 of 28 Days of Black Super Heroes, today’s hero is the Marvel Comics’ character Black Nick Fury.
Now, some of you might call this guy “Ultimate” Nick Fury, since he’s from the Ultimate line of Marvel Comics. I’m just gonna call him by the name I always call him – Black Nick Fury.
WHO IS HE?
For those of you not in the know, The Ultimate line of Marvel heroes are alternate versions of the traditional heroes we know and love.
Not so with Black Nick Fury.
With Black Nick Fury (hereafter referred to as ‘BNF’), he was always down to safeguard the country and kick some supervillain/super-menace ass – but there was always his own ambition and desire for power behind his actions.
I only started reading about BNF when I picked up the first trade of The Ultimates.
Prior to that, I avoided the Marvel Ultimate line because to me, it reeked of failure. It was like “hey, we know our mainstream hereos are completely messed up, so let’s just start over.”
I can’t be that mad at them, though, since it’s kind of how we got the whole Silver Age of comics, with re-imaginings of the older Golden Age characters.
Still, I would only pick up the odd issue of Ultimate Spider-Man or Ultimate X-Men. None of them really struck a chord with me so I never checked back.
BNF appeared in those comics from time to time (apparently), but not in the issues I read. So my first exposure to the character was in The Ultimates.
Just like his mainstream counterpart, BNF has been around since WWII(!) He looks pretty young for a guy that old, right? Well, mainstream Fury had some kind of youth juice called the “infinity formula” that kept him (relatively) young.
As far as I know, BNF doesn’t have this, but may have some sort of super-healing, similar to Wolverine. There in the Ultimate Universe, Fury and Wolverine were experimented on by, well, someone, back in the WWII days, and Fury seemed to gain some sort of superhuman strength and healing from it.
These abilities are not used by BNF in The Ultimates.
I only picked up The Ultimates because I was extremely bored with all the comics I’d been reading lately. I needed something new, so I broke my Unofficial Ultimate Embargo and went all the way in with the first trade.
When someone called him Nick Fury, I was like “Say what? Nick Fury’s BLACK?!? Nice!” And the best part, the artist (Bryan Hitch) drew him to look exactly like Samuel L. Jackson. Both extremely bad-ass and hilarious at the same time.
I’m not sure how they were able to get away with this. I thought you had to pay to use someone’s likeness? Maybe they did. I don’t know, but there was no getting around it, the artist made him look EXACTLY like Sam L. Jackson!
Anyway, the thing here is that the Ultimate universe tended to be a bit of a darker place than the mainstream Marvel U. BNF was no exception. In fact, he was one of the most stark contrasts between the Ultimate and mainstream characters -and not just because of his skin.
I could see right from the start that BNF was really in this for the recognition and power. He liked having control of the United States program to weaponize super-humans. He liked getting the accolades for it, the status it brought him.
The mainstream White Nick Fury (WNF) held power, but he never seemed to relish in it. With him he did the job that was necessary because there wasn’t anyone else who could do it better, and to hell with the awards and recognition.
Get this: The results are obvious, as WNF was and has been a Colonel for the longest time, while BNF has managed to move up to the rank of General.
While other Ultimate titles like Ultimate Spider-Man were all about super-hero hi-jinks, The Ultimates were a dark morass of espionage, betrayal and politics -with BNF smack dab in the middle of it all, stirring it up.
The Ultimates were initially a band of odd superpowered misfits, but after awhile Fury began stocking the team with reformed mutant terrorists Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, as well as black-ops special agents Hawkeye and Black Widow. A trend not unnoticed by disgraced Ultimates members Bruce Banner and Hank Pym.
The guy was always up to something. I was never sure if BNF had something going on with Banner’s (former) girlfriend Betty Ross or not. It sure seemed like it was hinted at there, but if it was ever comfirmed, then I must have missed it.
Anyway, Fury directed the Ultimates in taking down the Hulk and saving the world from an alien invasion, but when he started using The Ultimates to meddle in the affairs of other nations, those other nations banded together as The Liberators and struck back (also partly provoked by the machinations of Thor’s half-brother Loki).
The Liberators suprise attack destabilized the country. In the battle between them and the US Government, BNF’s right arm was severed. It was one of those panels where you look twice like “Damn! Dude’s arm just got cut off!!” I had to admit that he kinda deserved it. Let’s break it down:
- Prior to the invasions, BNF had given the kill-order to execute Bruce Banner. Only last minute intervention from fellow screw-up Hank Pym was able to save his life.
- Then BNF was duped by Loki into believing that Thor was a psychopath who had stolen technology (his belt and hammer) that made him super strong and granted him the ability to control the weather. He had The Ultimates and other superhumans gang up on Thor to bring him in.
- THEN – BNF is duped AGAIN. This time into believing that Captain America was a fake and an enemy spy. He also had Cap subdued and imprisoned. DAMN.
- Oh yeah, while he had Cap in jail, the REAL spy was still out there on the team kicking it! Major fail, BNF.
This mofo was tricked into dismantling his own team! What a putz. This would have never happend to WNF…
AFTER THE ULTIMATES – ULTIMATE POWER
At that point, The Ultimates moved on to a different creative team that was more super-hero instead of espionage oriented. I picked up the first issue but lost interest quick.
This was a story that should have been great, but wasn’t. A lot of it had to do with changing writers in and out of the series. Oh yeah, Fury’s arm rematerialized somehow. I think on the Wikipedia they mentioned it being a bionic arm. Works for me.
Anyway, as pertains to the story – essentially there was a devastating biological disaster on the Earth of the Supreme Power Squadron. Coincidentally, the Ultimate Reed Richards had sent out a probe to that dimension. Although the disaster was not Reed’s fault, his probe was a nice scapegoat, and the Squadron showed up in the Ultimate universe looking for Reed.
So all kinds of hell breaks loose, and the Squadron takes off with Reed back to their own Earth. BNF and a crew consisting of members of The Ultimates, Fantastic Four, X-Men and Spider-Man go after them. The fight continues.
Once there, we discover that BNF has been conspiring with Dr. Doom behind everyone’s back to gain all the information from Reed’s probes.
Well, as anyone might imagine, Doom betrays BNF and all hell (re) breaks loose. This time Fury reveals that he’s brought along a secret weapon…namely a sedated Hulk! Again, as you might imagine, Hulk cannot be controlled and turns on everyone, only able to be stopped when the combined forces of all the superhumans still standing are turned against him. Dammit, BNF, why wouldn’t you guess this might happen?
People were pretty pissed off about this, so they left Fury behind in the Supreme Power universe to face justice. You KNOW this wouldn’t have happened to WNF…
As it happened, I was a big fan of all the Squadron Supreme stuff, so I kept on reading it, and sure enough there was BNF right in the thick of things meddling with people and displaying his trademark ambition, trying to climb his way to the top of this new food chain.
He did express desire to get back to his own Earth though. That seemed to be his main goal, to somehow get enough power to get himself back home.
Unfortunately, this series was just not very good, and it was cancelled. So then I lost track of BNF again.
Apparently he made it back home just in time for the Ultimatum event (where Magneto goes nuts on everyone). I didn’t read that because I was avoiding Ultimate stuff at the time.
BACK TO THE OLD GRIND
So BNF was back in the Ultimate universe, but he wasn’t back to his old job. After the Ultimate Power team-up with Dr. Doom, BNF was disgraced and politically untouchable.
As such, he couldn’t be the public figurehead of the Ultimates program. Instead, he was given command of a black ops team of criminals and other super-powered mercenary types called the Ultimate Avengers. He’s been angling to get his old job back the entire time, though.
THE WRAP UP
Recommended reading: The Ultimates/Ultimates2 Vol 1-2
I like this character because he’s intelligent, resourceful and always interesting (even if the specific comic he’s in is not), but he’s a real snake and just not someone you can trust.
Even though I like him more than his mainstream counterpart, I wish he had the integrity and respect afforded to that version.
The day he regains control over the Ultimates program is the day I check back in with that title. Until then, enjoy this pencil art of Black Nick Fury. See you next time!