My 21st read for 2016 was another graphic novel, this time from Marvel’s Max line. The book focuses on a character well known in both the comic book and cinematic universes: Nick Fury. However this story presents a slightly different view in a slightly different ‘universe;’ here there is no SHIELD (Fury works with the CIA) and there are no superheroes (although Frank Castle makes an important appearance) and the tale told by Garth Ennis with art by Goran Parlov paints a far grittier picture. Fury plays a role in America’s conflicts from Vietnam in 1954 to Nicaragua in 1984, hardly aging as those around him become older; when the story concludes in 1999 Nick has begun to look older, but those people closest to him at the book’s start have all died.
The story Ennis tells of Nick Fury’s love for war, his friend George Hatherly who partners with him, Congressman (then Senator) Pug McCuskey with deep connections into America’s military and espionage institutions, and Shirley DiFabio with ambitions of her own highlights the costs of compromise, the toll of violence, and the crushing weight of betrayal. The wonderful art matches the story beautifully even as it portrays the gruesome nature of war. With interesting side characters like Castle and a brutal momentum this book tells a powerful story.
This is admittedly a book I never would have picked up on my own; instead I bought it based on the recommendation of Paperkeg, a great podcast that I highly encourage you to check out if you like comic books. I’m glad I read it since the story was well told and explores some powerful themes. Not sure if I will pick any of the other Max books from Marvel but this one was well worth reading.