Writer Brian Michael Bendis revealed this weekend at the Philadelphia Comic Con that he will write a mini-series revealing the secret origins of Marvel's "Ultimate" Universe, focusing heavily on that universe's version of Nick Fury.
To comic book neophytes, that sentence probably made no sense. About seven years ago, Marvel decided to create an alternate universe to that in which their primary comics take place so that they could tell stories about Spider-man when he was still a teenager and the X-Men before they got bogged down in decades' worth of impenetrable continuity. In other words, comics that someone who had just walked out of one of those movies could pick up and make sense out of. It was a good idea. Some characters were similar to their regular Marvel Universe versions; some were wildly different. Nick Fury was the only one I know of to change race. Marvel's famous eye-patched superspy (pictured below as drawn by spy artist extraordinaire Paul Gulacy) is white in the classic titles, and black in the Ultimate Universe. Furthermore, he's modelled on Samuel L. Jackson. (Personally, I've never approved of the Jackson "casting.") The character has played an even bigger role in the Ultimate Universe than he does in the regular Marvel titles, and Bendis' origin tale will focus largely on him.
"It will definitely show how Nick Fury got to his place in the Ultimate Universe, which has not been revealed," Bendis tells Newsarama. "It’s been hinted and tickled at through little vignettes here and there, but he’s got quite a whopper of a story." Sounds intriguing! Newsarama goes on to ask Bendis to clear up one of the Ultimate Universe's longest-standing mysteries: why Fury was apparently white in his first Ultimate appearance, Ultimate Team-Up #3, drawn by the great Mike Allred. "He was never white," Bendis declares. "He was black in Ultimate Team-Up. It was colored so blueish, there may have been question, but in the script, he was African American with a half-fro, and then [artist] Bryan Hitch gave him the shave off. So, if anything, he was balding versus Sam Jackson cool."
Ultimate Origin is due later this year.
It's not the first time Ultimate Spider-man writer Bendis' name has been connected with a Nick Fury project. Bendis himself got fans' hopes up a few years ago by hinting that Fury's artistic father, comics legend Jim Steranko, would be joining him on a Fury book. Sadly, Steranko himself told me that wasn't true. Bendis was also scheduled to write an ongoing Spider-Woman series featuring the eponymous heroine as an agent of SHIELD in which Fury would play a large role. That too has yet to materialize, perhaps pushed aside by the events of last year's Civil War storyline. Although Bendis has proven himself an excellent writer again and again over 100+ issues of Ultimate Spider-man, one should remember that he also penned the hands-down worst Fury story of recent memory, Secret War, which started out very promising but then fizzled out after interminable delays, and resulted in Fury's prolonged (and ongoing) exile from the regular Marvel Universe.