The Marvel Universe has been around for 70 years, but only a few of the characters who drive the stories we read today were around back then. When Marvel Comics #1 was published by Timely Comics, the early predecessor of the company Marvel Comics, the issue featured characters like The Human Torch, The Angel and The Sub-Mariner.
In The Marvels Project, the eight-issue mini-series starting this week by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, those characters and the origin of the Marvel Universe are being fleshed out in a modern tale of espionage and action.
Yet among all those early Marvel characters will be a few that were later established as having been around in the early days, including Nick Fury.
With the impending release later this week of the first issue, we reach the last installment of our ongoing series looking at The Marvels Project, and we talk to the creators of the series about Nick Fury and how the before-the-eyepatch hero plays into the story of Marvel's origin.
Character Origin: Nick Fury was the son of a World War I aviator who ended up pursuing a life of adventure in the world of flight as part of a wing-walking and parachuting act. "He was a rough-and-tumble New York kid," Brubaker said. "He and his best friend, Red, were pilots and did trick flying at carnivals and things like that."
Eventually, the character goes to England to train paratroopers for the British when the country is engaged in the European war that would become World War II. "This is pre-soldier Nick Fury," Brubaker said. "He and his friend, Red, are over in England. They're not in the military, actually, and America's not in the war yet. Nick actually didn't join the army until after Pearl Harbor, according to his bio. But they've basically been instructing paratroopers because they're early parachuters. They're experts at this."
Powers: At this point in Nick Fury's history, he has no powers. However, as Marvel fans know, he is eventually given the Infinity Formula that halts his aging.
Epting's Approach: "Fury's a little different for me this time around, because this takes place when he is younger, before he entered the war," Epting said. "Usually you have a sort of crutch with guys like Fury because the eyepatch is a defining visual characteristic that immediately identifies him. In this case he hasn't yet lost his eye, so I've got to draw a young guy that looks like he'll become the Nick Fury we all know and love."
First Appearance: Nick Fury was a creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby who first appeared in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos in 1963.
"There are issues where he hangs out with Captain America and Bucky during World War II that were done in the '60s, so he came around this era eventually as kind of a retcon, but he's now firmly established as having been around at that time," Brubaker said. "I thought it was pretty clear he had to be a major part of The Marvels Project.
"I wanted to do that for any of the later characters who were around then, whenever possible. I haven't gotten far enough into the story to figure out how to use Wolverine in the story," Brubaker added. "I'm trying to figure out a way to use him in the story because clearly he was around in World War II. Wolverine's such a tricky character, but you can't do a story like this without having him in it somehow because he ended up being so important in the Marvel Universe. We know he was in World War II, but this is just before that, so there's got to be a way to fit him in, I'm sure."
How He Fits in The Marvels Project: "We have him doing some really cool, kind of significant stuff," Brubaker said. "There are things here and there where he's needed, because America isn't in the war yet. So they need non-military people to be black ops kind of things.
Brubaker said he found a way to not only show what Nick was doing at the time, but also to answer a question about the Marvel Universe's past. "There's one of those moments where I found a story that had never been told. It's one of those things where, apparently, no one had asked the question, ever. So there's a really significant, key piece to the early days of Marvel that was one of those things where, doing research, I stumbled across it," he said. "And I was like whoa! No one's ever told that story. And I found a way to blend it all into this and use Nick Fury for that. That's a big piece of the second issue, is Nick Fury and his friend going on this secret mission. I love it that I found a way to use him in this story, because he's such a cool character. And he's one of those Marvel characters who, I know he wasn't created in the '40s, actually, but he's such a key part of Marvel. So I like it that we can come in here later and make him fit and play an important role."