Marvel just retired one of its longest-serving heroes

Several versions of Nick Fury.
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Last week Marvel paid tribute to 60 years of Nick Fury with a double-sized anniversary one-shot. The issue, written by Al Ewing, is a grand celebration of one of Marvel's most enduring characters, but it also marks the end of the road for Nick Fury Sr., who ends the issue by deciding to take a break from protecting Earth-616.

The special issue celebrated the past, present, and future of Fury with several interconnected vignettes, all penned by Ewing, and drawn by Scott Eaton, Tom Reilly, Adam Kubert, and Ramon Rosanas. If you want to avoid spoilers for the issue, then stop reading now...

In the story, Nick Fury Jr. encounters a mysterious new version of S.C.O.R.P.I.O., who is trying to get her hands on the Zodiac Key. Investigating this new threat leads him to delve into his family history. After a few eventful flashbacks, which document Dad's history with the powerful object, he makes his way to the moon for a fight with S.C.O.R.P.I.O., who is revealed to be Rebecca Hargrove, a distant relative of Howling Commando Red Hargrove.

The cover for Fury #1

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

After defeating her, Fury Jr. meets with both his dad and Uatu the Watcher. Fury Sr. reveals that he has had enough of being, in his son's words, "a manipulative S.O.B." and is taking the Zodiac Key and leaving the Marvel universe behind.

"Call it a vacation," says Fury Sr., before admitting that he is tired of "looking at everyone through a damn sniper scope." And so he passes on the role of Earth's defender to his son, who notes, "There are universes that need the original Nick Fury more than this one does ... There are worse retirements."

First introduced in May 1963's Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1, the original Nick Fury fought long and hard in World War II. Since then he's had his ageing process slowed by the Infinity Formula, joined first the C.I.A. and then S.H.I.E.L.D., uncovered the Skrull's secret invasion of Earth, been punished by the Watchers, and worked as Uatu's "Man on the Wall" and a defender of Earth. Honestly, it's no wonder he fancies a bit of a break.

Nick Fury retires.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

In our own reality, of course, there's likely a more pragmatic reason for this development. We're just weeks away from the launch of Disney Plus' Secret Invasion TV show, which will heavily feature Samuel L. Jackson's take on Nick Fury. Fury Jr. is visually based on the actor (as was the Ultimate Universe incarnation of the character, which famously inspired Jackson's MCU casting in the first place), and so it makes sense that the publisher might want to tidy up comics continuity by moving his predecessor off the board, at least for the time being. 

Ewing's script also provides a satisfyingly celebratory conclusion for the character, while leaving the door open for his eventual (and let's face it, inevitable) return, somewhere down the line. Meanwhile, Fury Jr. is ready and willing to keep protecting Earth-616 not as another Man on the Wall but, as the comic puts it, the Man for the Job.

Fury #1 is published by Marvel Comics and is available now.

Find out what you need to know about the original Secret Invasion before the Disney Plus TV show launches next month.

Will Salmon
Comics Editor

Will Salmon is the Comics Editor for GamesRadar/Newsarama. He has been writing about comics, film, TV, and music for more than 15 years, which is quite a long time if you stop and think about it. At Future he has previously launched scary movie magazine Horrorville, relaunched Comic Heroes, and has written for every issue of SFX magazine for over a decade. He sometimes feels very old, like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. His music writing has appeared in The Quietus, MOJO, Electronic Sound, Clash, and loads of other places and he runs the micro-label Modern Aviation, which puts out experimental music on cassette tape.