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Strange Tales 138
"Sometimes The Good Guys Lose!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND November, 1965

Written By: STAN LEE Sultan Of Script!

Laid Out By: JACK KIRBY Master Of Melodrama!

Drawn By: JOHNNY SEVERIN Archduke Of Art!

Lettered By: S. ROSEN Prince Of Penmanship!

Reviewed By: S. CHUNG
Rajah Of Review!

(Originally Reviewed On 03/26/02)

On the cover, Nick Fury is under fire by the hordes of Hydra, with only his bullet-proof wardrobe coming between him and certain death!

In the Balkans, Nick Fury and his agents of SHIELD have begun their frantic search for the Betatron Bomb, which Hydra plans to launch into orbit! Gabe Jones has just positioned the televiewer, then asks Nick if he wants him to come into the observation area, but Colonel Fury tells him to stay put and stand ready to order a rocket attack, should he find the launch site, as well as telling Gabe to lay off the "colonel" because he thinks that the former Howler means someone else.

Nick is certain that he can find the launch site with the televiewer, but wonders if he'll do so in time. As the I.B.P. craft flies over the earth at 40 miles high, the colonel checks out every square inch, then spots it! Just as he orders Gabe to launch rockets, Hydra sends the Betatron Bomb into space! Nick knows that three SHIELD agents gave their lives to stop the launch, and by mere seconds, their sacrifice seems to be in vain, but Nick orders Gabe to blow up the launch site, so that Hydra realizes that the war between them and SHIELD will only have one victor.

Halfway around the world, The Imperial Hydra witnesses the destruction of the launch site, and knows that Nick Fury will not be so easily dealt with, but it is Hydra's victory, nonetheless. With the Betatron in orbit, the world is at Hydra's mercy, and soon, he will dictate Earth's surrender terms. Sending for his daughter, The Imperial Hydra hopes to share this triumphant moment with her, but finds that she had hoped that he had not gone through with his scheme. When he tells her to be silent, she asks if she'll be executed, and instead, The Imperial Hydra orders her out, for she has tinged the moment of his victory, and does not understand his quest for power! Once she has left, The Imperial Hydra pets his loyal panther, who shares one trait in common with its master... it will not hesitate in attacking the weak and helpless. Pressing a button on the wall, The Imperial Hydra prepares to contact his divisional chiefs and give them the full briefing, prior to bringing the world leaders to their knees!

The Imperial Hydra advises them to stand by for further orders and to remain on alert, then summons the diplomatic division (code-named Fox). The Fox divisional chief stands ready for Operation Doomsday, as each section has been given the names of animals in order to furnish a sense of identity and pride. The Fox divisional chief arrives with the executive staff, while The Imperial Hydra orders them to present the surrender terms to the world leaders.

While The Imperial Hydra addresses his men, SHIELD observes an image of the Betatron Bomb in orbit, and Nick Fury converses with millionaire industrialist, Tony Stark, who is asked to come up with a weapon to send it out of commission! Stark tells Fury that even if the device were to be knocked out of the sky, the fallout would endanger life on Earth! Gabe wonders how they'll be able to fight back, while Dugan assures him that Tony Stark will figure it out. The four men turn their attention to a viewing screen, where crowds are panicking in the streets, as the citizens of the world learn of the threat hanging above them in space, and riots have begun to break out all over. Nick is sure that there's a Hydra agent or so beneath the veneer of civil strife, but Stark isn't so sure that all is lost, as of yet. The factory owned and operated by Tony Stark seems similar to SHIELD headquarters, as it should since Stark is the man who designed SHIELD's operations. Tony leads them to another section of his factory, intending to show Nick a device whose construction is under as much secret as The Manhattan Project. The Colonel tells Dugan and Jones to make certain the authorities arrive safely home, while he sees what Tony Stark has for him. While the men converse, they are being watched by workers, who are in reality, agents of Hydra!

While Tony advises vigilance since what he has to show Nick would have Hydra eager to kill them both, the hordes of Hydra are listening in, intent on doing just that! Lead to the outside of an office, Nick is impressed that Stark would hide such a device in such an obvious place. Tony is about to show Nick his new Braino-Saur, when The Colonel overhears the sound of muffled breathing, and knows that they are not alone! Shoving Stark into the office and slamming the door, Nick turns and opens fire on Hydra, whose Tiger agents are ready to pounce! Nick knows about the assassination branch of Hydra, as much as they didn't know about Nick's bullet-proof suit!

The Tiger Leader tells his men to smash Nick, who is certain that they'll only get past him unless it's feet first! Intent on saving his ammo, Nick decides to punch a few of them, only to be overwhelmed by their sheer numbers! A steel cable lasso seizes his gun-hand, while the Tiger agents seize him!

The head of SHIELD soon finds himself strapped into an strait-jacket, and on his way to The Imperial Hydra's headquarters, just as the other Hydra agents turn their attentions to Stark and his new weapon. In the next room, they find the millionaire industrialist has placed himself inside a bullet-proof cubicle, and has ordered guards to head for section-34! (Holy Dilbert, Batman!) The Tiger agents know that when Tony Stark builds something, it's built pretty well, and stop their attempts in breaking through. Hydra takes Fury, while Stark is grateful that they haven't found the Braino-Saur! Tony regrets that he doesn't have his attache case, as with the armor, he'd still be able to stop them, but the security won't arrive till a minute later. The Tiger Leader calls Rhino division, which Stark knows to be the heavy weapon section of Hydra! CRASH! The factory wall has been breached, and Hydra takes their leave... with Nick Fury as their prisoner!

The Hydra agents enter the tank, and outside, the tank converts to aerial transport mode, with Tony telling the guards to stand back, for the vehicle is too powerful. He watches as the sky missile jet emerges from the middle of the tank, and even Tony thinks that Nick is done for!

The sky missile jet soars away, with the fate of the world being played out on what will happen next. Tony vows that SHIELD will get Hydra, for the organization is bigger than just one man, and although Nick Fury has done his part, it's time for the others to do theirs, as well!

At a board meeting of Imperial Industries International, Chairman Leslie Farrington is determined that the others follow his leadership! (Holy Jemas, Batman!) He tells Vandergill to cast his vote with the majority, while Hodges and Wilson note the tyrannical tendencies of the man, who may be the best candidate for the job. Vandergill reluctantly agrees to Farrington's terms, but vows that he'll somehow break the man's hold on the corporation. The lights in the boardroom suddenly go out, and in the darkness, one man knows that this is the signal which he has been waiting for! The man who is in reality The Imperial Hydra knows that the mission has been completed and Nick Fury is now Hydra's prisoner. Farrington calls for the meeting to be adjourned, and his assistant, Brown, asks if he'll be needed. Farrington tells Brown to stay, while Vandergill plans to divide the members of the board and unseat Farrnington, eyeing Hodges and Wilson as potential allies. With the board members gone, only Farrington and Brown remain behind, the chairman telling his assistant to keep him apprised of any movements from the board to have him ousted. Brown agrees and is told to have his notes ready for the next morning.

In the boardroom, a wall panel slides back, and the man once more dons the guise of The Imperial Hydra, who descends the stairs and is greeted by his followers! He is soon shown to their prisoner, one strait-jacketed Nick Fury, who finds himself galled that in this face-to-face meeting with The Imperial Hydra, it must be like this! The Imperial Hydra gloats that SHIELD cannot change Hydra's destiny to rule the world, then punches the captive Fury to the ground, telling him that they'll soon learn what they need to know about SHIELD. When told that it is now two o'clock, The Imperial Hydra knows that at this very moment, two of his Fox division agents are delivering Hydra's ultimatium in Washington. He is confident that soon, all on Earth will be on their knees before The Imperial Hydra, just as Colonel Fury is now! In Washington, the two Fox agents await the acceptance of the surrender terms, with the world's leaders pleading for more time, and being told that time has run out for mankind... HAIL HYDRA!

The cover by John Severin is quite an eye-catcher,with Nick's standoff against armed Hydra agents, and the image of the orbiting Betatron bomb on the Stark Factory's view-screen!

D.C. has Kobra, whose organization is similar in tone to Hydra.

Although in the story, Tony Stark mentions his attache case and his armor, we don't read the words "Iron Man" nor do we see a picture of him as Shell-Head in this story, possibly to emphasize the spy genre and divorce it from the superhero one, otherwise one would wonder why The F.F. and The Avengers, not to mention Dr. Doom wouldn't take down Hydra, the others for altruistic reasons, and Doomsie, so that no one else plays with his toys.

Unlike Sgt. Fury, Colonel Fury is clean-shaven.

Imagine having toys, such as the tank, which converts into an aerial transport, and a missile! How about the hordes of Hydra and their animal-named divisions, or Nick Fury and his agents of SHIELD. They'd have given G.I. JOE a run for his money.