Ennis Returns to FURY MAX for 'Cold War Greatest Hits'

Fury MAX #1 cover.

In 2001, Preacher's Garth Ennis teamed with Transmetropolitan's Darick Robertson for Fury, part of Marvel's then-new mature readers line, MAX. Portraying Nick Fury as a veteran out of step with the modern world, the extreme content of the series was a major departure from the usual depiction of Marvel characters that have been around since the Silver Age — and, according to a long-circulated yet unconfirmed rumor, caused George Clooney to back out of playing the character in a planned live-action film.

In the years since, the character of Nick Fury has seen a major reinterpretation — first in the Ultimate line of comics, with a version clearly visually based on Samuel L. Jackson, then in the Marvel Studios productions, where the role is actually played by Samuel L. Jackson. Just last week, Battle Scars #6 established a new Nick Fury in the classic Marvel Universe, one that not coincidently strongly resembles Samuel L. Jackson.

But it's the original Nick Fury that Ennis is returning to for the Fury MAX series that debuts this week. And, as he told Newsarama in the following email interview, he's still not backing away from the "mature readers" aspect of the MAX line, as he and artist Goran Parlov take Fury on a tour of post-World War II hotspots.

Newsarama: Garth, the original Fury MAX series has achieved something of a legendary status in the year since its release. How do you personally view the series, looking back?

Fury MAX #2 cover.

Garth Ennis: Still very happy with it, well within my top 10. Darick did a fantastic job, we had a great editorial team, I was able to write exactly what I wanted and ended up with a book I wouldn't change a single aspect of. It was done at that great period at Marvel when Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada were clearing out the old guard and there was a feeling like you could do almost anything.

Nrama: Between the original and Peacemaker, this is your third Nick Fury series. What motivated you to return to the character? What aspects of Fury are you looking to explore in the new series?

Ennis: I'd been kicking the idea around for some time, probably around about when I was finishing up my run on Punisher a few years back. Then, at the start of last year, both Joe and Axel Alonso were promoted to their current positions and Nick Lowe got a bump up too. It's always nice when your friends do well, so I took it as a sign: time to get stuck into that Fury thing I'd been thinking about.

This is very much the Nick Fury I wrote in Punisher, in particular the very last six-parter: angry, bitter, old, still lethal. This is the story of how he got that way.

Nrama: It looks like Fury MAX weaves through several different eras of post-WWII history. How long of a timeline does the series cover? And how did you devise the places (1950s French Indochina, 1960s Cuba) to take Nick Fury?

Fury MAX #3 cover.

Ennis: We begin in French Indochina in the early '50s, then it's up to '61 for the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba. Then ahead 10 years and back to Southeast Asia, where Fury meets a young Marine sniper by the name of Frank Castle. We finish up in Nicaragua in '84, where Barracuda is up to his dirty business in the jungle, and then there's a modern-day epilogue in issue #13. Kind of the greatest hits of the Cold War.

Nrama: You're reteaming with Goran Parlov for this book. What makes his artistic strengths well-suited for this story?

Ennis: There is simply no praise too high for Goran Parlov. He's one of the very best artists I've ever worked with. His storytelling is bang-on, he has a fantastic sense of location and setting, he draws great hardware, tough guys and beautiful women — his character work just can't be faulted — and he's not averse to doing his research to get everything just right. His Nick Fury is just as good as his Frank Castle, and in my opinion, no one draws a better Punisher than Goran.

Nrama: The original Fury MAX series is somewhat infamous for its extreme content, though Peacemaker, as part of Marvel Knights, was more conservative in that regard. Can we presume that the new series similarly earns its "explicit content" advisory?

Ennis: Yep.

Fury MAX #4 cover.

Nrama: As a result of the Marvel Studios movies (inspired by the Ultimate line of comics), most people have a very different view of the character of Nick Fury. How important do you think it is to keep the original version of the character in circulation, in projects like this?

Ennis: Exactly the kind of thing I never think about, I always just bash ahead and tell the story. My starting point for Nick Fury was the warrior/politician figure from Miller and Sienkiewicz's superb Elektra: Assassin. I ran with that and made him more grizzled, more pissed off. I haven't seen the film version and I've never cared much for the previous comic incarnations, so none of that means very much to me, really.

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