May 2, 2011

Garth Ennis To Pen New Nick Fury Comic

Newsarama reports that Garth Ennis announced at Chicago's C2E2 convention last week (or the week before; this post has been gestating a long time now) that he'd be returning to Nick Fury with another miniseries in Marvel's mature readers MAX line. (Weirdly, he made this announcement on the Dynamite panel.)  The last time Ennis wrote a MAX series about Marvel's top superspy, the result was FURY, a comic that explored some very interesting ideas, but was ultimately undone by way over-the-top Ennis humor that, to me, felt incongruous with the character. Shortly after Rolling Stone Magazine named that series to its annual "Cool List," then Marvel CEO Avi Arad stopped by my local comic shop to shoot the breeze with fans, which I thought was pretty cool.  He asked what we thought of FURY, and since Nick Fury was largely absent from mainstream Marvel comics in those days and I was just glad to have him back in any form, I said I loved it.  That was a bit of a fib.  Turned out it was a loaded question from Arad, who clearly didn't love it.

"I always preferred the classic Steranko version," he said.  Which, of course, I do too.  Turns out Arad was trying to get a film version off the ground about then, with George Clooney attached to star.  The timing of Ennis' series and Rolling Stone's extra exposure was bad for his plans.  "But what do I know?" Arad asked.  "If Rolling Stone says it's cool..." Shortly after that chance encounter with Arad, Clooney bolted the project, and word was it was because the actor didn't like Ennis' take.  That always sounded a bit fishy to me, but putting two and two together with what Arad said in the comic shop, I'd guess the project collapsed due to opposing visions over which version of the character it should follow.  Despite the enthusiasm I professed for Ennis' FURY in front of Arad, my loyalty will always lie with the Steranko classic. However, it seems fated that that version was never destined to make it to the big screen.  When Nick Fury finally did turn up in cinemas at the end of Iron Man, it was in the guise of Samuel L. Jackson, playing another alternate comic book version of the eye-patched secret agent based on the Ultimate line of books.  Ennis' MAX version of Fury was just as far from the classic incarnation as Ultimate Nick Fury.  However, a few years later the Irish author reigned in his caricature a bit, presenting a pretty good version of his Fury in a Punisher MAX storyline, Mother Russia.  I'm hoping the version in this new series is closer to that take than Ennis' original one.  His vision for the book certainly piques my interest.  

The MTV Geek blog caught up with Ennis shortly after this new announcement and got some more details out of him on what to expect from the new MAX Fury series. Ennis revealed that he would be taking the character back to his Cold War roots (sounds good to me), and essentially using him to explore the last half-century of famous CIA operations.  What Ennis describes, in fact, sounds sort of like a Marvel MAX version of The Good Shepherd, which sounds pretty neat to me.  "The new series," he reveals, "will look quite closely at the Cold War. It’s a period of history that fascinates me and we will sort of move through its greatest hits. French Indochina, Cuba because you have do the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam in the early seventies when it’s really gotten going, and then on to Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 80s."

Ennis told the interviewer that he sees his Nick Fury as "the kind of black ops, master spy, adrenaline junkie who’s never going to give this up. I count that first Nick Fury series among my favorite things that I’ve ever done. I felt that it was 6 issues of high-octane madness and it was exactly what I wanted it to be! However, it’s not surprising at all that Marvel would not build on that. You can’t an ongoing franchise out of a guy who is ultimately a very negative character. He’s a war junkie, a guy who would almost start a war just so he can indulge his favorite passion. What really interests me about the character is the notion that the guy has been at war for effectively 60 or 70 years and still has the energy for it."

Goran Parlov will be handling the art chores on Ennis' new series. Besides the convention sketch pictured here, he's previously drawn the character in collaboration with Bill Sienkiewicz in two volumes of truly excellent Black Widow comics by Richard K. Morgan, Homecoming and The Things They Say About Her.  (Both are fantastic spy stories.)


Anonymous said...

Since it involves Nick Fury I should be jonesing for this, but I'm not really looking forward to this. While I really liked his take on Fury in the pages of 'Punisher MAX', I intensely disliked the 'Fury' mini series.

Off topic (unless you count it as being related because it is a new take on an established comic book spy)I have been curious if you have seen (or heard anything about) the new 'XIII' series running in Canada at the moment? Thanks.

Tanner said...

Yes, it's disheartening to hear him say that he thought that FURY series was perfect. I really hope he takes this one in a different direction. Guess we'll see...

I have not seen the new XIII series, though I'd very much like to. What I've heard, however, is definitely not promising. Rob over at The Medium Is Not Enough calls it flat-out "one of the worst things I've seen in over a year..." and he reviews a lot of stuff...