Like Josh, I was caught by surprise by Marvel’s “Battle Scars” mini-series. I’m sure what happened is I heard of it, assumed it was a “Fear Itself” followup, and ran off in the other direction. And after all, who could be blamed for that?
As it turns out, this is also the vehicle by which Marvel introduces a bald, black Nick Fury into the 616 Marvel Universe. And I know what you’re thinking, it’s the first thing that came to my mind as well: Did they bring back the same heroin-addicted plastic surgeon prostitute that once turned the Punisher into a black man? Amazingly, no! I can’t imagine why not; Marvel’s in danger of losing that valuable piece of intellectual property if they don’t use it. No, they went with the much more pedestrian method of introducing Fury’s heretofore unknown son, who bears a striking resemblance to a famous movie actor if you remove his hair and left eye (which they do). And his name’s Nick Fury too! I mean, he’s lived with the name Marcus Johnson for 30-something years, but on paper his name is Nick Fury Jr., so naturally that’s what he calls himself now. Minus the “Jr” part, presumably.
I don’t actually have anything against losing the old Nick Fury. There could be some be some great story potential in having a SHIELD higher-up that doesn’t have a lifetime of history with all the superheroes. (Like Maria Hill, but less…Bendisy) And I’m not even necessarily against Marvel’s overly-optimistic leap of faith that the Avengers movie will bring in enough new comics readers to justify changing a thing. It’s just amazing that Marvel honestly thinks this is an easier explanation for new readers to accept than simply saying, “He’s black in the movies and white in the comics”. The Ultimate universe need not even be mentioned, just “he’s black in the movies and white in the comics”. Like audiences have never encountered such a thing before. They’ve never read a book that’s been turned into a movie.
And don’t even get me started on the other guy.
By fortuitous coincidence. Nick Fury also has a friend named Phil Coulson, who looks just like Matt Murdock! It would’ve probably made more sense to make him look a little like Clark Gregg, but no, mavericks that they are, Marvel went another way.
Frankly, as much as I love Coulson in the movies, I really don’t see that there’s anything so inherently unique about him that that exact character has to exist in the comics. He’s an everyman who deadpans his way through a fantastic universe, and Gregg plays that role fantastically in the films, but the Marvel comics have no shortage of that kind of character. Hell, pretty much every named SHIELD agent fits that description.
None of these additions are BAD, per se, it’s just slightly unsettling to see that this is what Marvel’s mind immediately goes when it comes to the issue of being more new-reader friendly. Not the unwieldy franchises of tie-ins and spin-offs that serve only to devalue the strength of the brands they sprung from. Not the over-reliance on huge event crossovers that constantly shift status quos before any of them have a chance to really build into something that might catch on. But this.
Quotable quotes from @JoshCritic:
“I’d have more respect for Marvel if they just stuck the old white Nick Fury in that “makes you black” machine Superman has.”