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Strange Tales 157


(Originally Reviewed On 8/07/01)

Edited By STAN LEE... The Overlord!

Written and Illustrated By JIM STERANKO... The Overseer

Lettered By SAM ROSEN... The Overworked

Reviewed By STEVE CHUNG... The Over-Reviewer

Baron Strucker looms over Laura Brown and Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, with Satan Claw in hand, while Hydra is spreading its lethal embrace throughout the world in this crisis of a cover by Steranko!

In meeting The Supreme Hydra, Nick Fury discovers that he is in reality, Baron Strucker, his nemesis from World War II, and after being captured, plus being placed on trial by the court of Hydra, The SHIELD director finds himself strapped within a Killer Machine, while The Baron is releasing deadly alpha waves! (Holy Alpha Primitive, Batman!)

Strucker addresses the hordes of Hydra, promising that their day has come, while SHIELD's is at an end, and with Nick Fury at his feet, his wartime foe will serve as the template for an army of Hydra androids! The Baron has secreted a Death-Spore bomb aboard the Heli-Carrier, so that in minutes, SHIELD will be destroyed, and there is no way for the Death-Spores to be averted, and as the alpha-wave bombardment ends, Strucker sees that Nick Fury is gone! (Yup, leave it to the bad guy to mouth off, while the good guy finds a way out of the trap!)

Aboard the Heli-Carrier, the atomic generator is less than at full power, while repairs will take many days to complete, and with the ship in the lower stratosphere, SHIELD must rely on the vortex beam to remain aloft. Jasper Sitwell is seeking out the bomb and decides to contact the ESP division, hoping to be worthy of Fury's trust in him! Even those peerless minds are unable to locate the Death Spore bomb, and Jasper calls for Gabe Jones and Dum Dum Dugan that the Heli-Carrier is on the way to Antarctica, where the bacteria's damage will be confined to the ship and not to the population below! (Holy Ka-Zar, Batman! Wonder how Kevin and Zabu will take that?) With a moment, Jasper pauses for prayer...

On Hydra Island, a different type of countdown is taking place, as Hydra agents are being kayoed by an unseen force, who after a minute comes into view as Nick Fury, who had taken the temporary invisibility pill so that Strucker missed it by that much! (Holy Wouldja Believe, Batman!) The capsule was in his mouth when the alpha waves were activated, and Strucker is chewing on his monocle in search for him! Nick prepares his Fireball-Shooter, as things begin to get hotter... (Holy Gerry Anderson, Batman!)

FTOOM! FTOOM! FTOOM! Fury turns and uses the weapon on a trio of Hydra Agents on the Sterankoic Stairs on Hydra Island, while more agents are tumbling in Nick's assault!

FTOOM! FTOOM! Since the hordes of Hydra are so obliging to linger all together in one spot, Nick divests an agent of his weapon and fires it at them! Hydra Island is complete with places to hide, and after disembarking from the shuttlecar, Nick uses a bunch of incendiary discs on the Transpor-Tunnel... SHA-KOOM! Another bunch of Hydra agents have found Fury again, and have decided to enact plan K-11! With little artillery to spare, Nick must rely on his hand-to-hand combat skills!

He uses a judo flip on the first agent, kicks the second agent in the chest, shoves the third agent in the face, uses a sweeping leg kick on the fourth agent, the fifth agent gets a judo toss, the sixth agent uses of a flame thrower fails miserably, the seventh agent is thrown for a loss, the eighth agent hears that Nick isn't so much tired from fighting, but bored before his head is slammed against a wall, and the ninth agent has his skills likened to a girl scout! (Holy Giffen, Batman! Steranko used a nine-panel page on this one.

The next moment, Nick hurls a SHIELD hallucination cube at the hordes of Hydra, which has them experiencing their worst fears as the lives ruined by Hydra are now seeking vengeance on their tormentors.

From the shadows approaches Baron Strucker, who views this as a privilege, and Nick sheds a tear at the thought of this reunion. As Strucker leaps, he is dealt a haymaker from Nick, while the SHIELD agent wonders what would happen to Hydra if it lost its "head." Strucker fires his blaster, while Fury knocks him on the jaw, and the next moment finds The Baron strapping on... KKKKRRACKLE! The SATAN CLAW!! (Holy Manicure, Batman! Two exclamation points from Sam Rosen!)

TZAP! Although he could end this in a moment, Baron Strucker contents himself with buffeting Nick around with the energy field from The Satan Claw, with Fury rising slowly to his feet and knowing that the glove must be electronically powered like Shell-Head's! Nick leaps at Strucker, desperate to disarm him,but the energies crackle, until The Baron's hand has become an iron fist, and crackling doom becomes a shimmering one! Nick is knocked off his feet by the electrical arc, while Strucker is determined to illustrate how he, the aristocrat is above the common herd!

SSSWISSSH! As he rises again, Nick sees The Baron preparing to deliver a lethal chop, and distracts him with memories from the war, where Strucker met defeat, but now Nick may fall! He knows that if Strucker lands a solid blow, it will be the last thing that he'll ever see...

Nick falls to the ground, while Strucker strides forward in an air of confidence, and no shortage of long-windedness. Fury struggles to rise, pointing out that he came to Hydra Island on his own, not as a captive, and he made his way through The Baron's forces and defenses, even when Strucker strapped on the glove, and even if Strucker kills him, Nick Fury knows that he's won since that's the only way he'll ever be stopped. THAKOOM! The Baron lands another punch with The Satan Claw, and Nick falls, with the Death Spore explosion mere moments away! The Satan Claw is charging electrical pulses to end Nick's life, while the SHIELD director sees that this may very well be the end...!

Steranko! Strucker! Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD! All the more reason to read Strange Tales!

The Hydra machines, as rendered by Jim Steranko have to be seen to be believed, as well as the perspective of each panel in the story.

While Nick has his showdown with an old foe, Jasper and The Heli-Carrier may be on their last legs, as well.

Nick's arsenal is truly impressive with his Fireball-Shooter, and the nifty FTOOM! sound effect provided by Sam Rosen! From Fireball-Shooting sound effects to Satan Claw cracklings, Sam Rosen is the man!

The Hallucination Cube is on par with The Cosmic Cube, with Jim Steranko presenting what lurks in the hearts of the hordes of Hydra!

Steve Chung