Tag Archives: Nick Fury

Minorities in cartoons: Nick Fury (Ultimate Marvel)

Nick FuryThis week’s entry, just in time for the upcoming “Avengers” movie, is Nick Fury. That is, the Ultimate Marvel universe version of Nick Fury, not the long-running Marvel character in mainstream continuity.

This version of Nick Fury was introduced in “Ultimate Marvel Team-Up” #5 in 2001, and was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Allred. Based on the mainstream Nick Fury, the main changes for the Ultimate version include being African-American and having a personality based on actor Samuel L. Jackson’s “tough guy” film persona (supposedly with Mr. Jackson’s permission). Otherwise, Ultimate Nick has some similarities to the “regular” Nick—an eye patch, being long-lived, and being the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., the top US government espionage organization/military law enforcement agency in the Marvel Universe.

The most popular treatment of Ultimate Nick’s been in non-comics media; there, he’s become the default version of Nick Fury used across movies and animated television series. At this point, the Ultimate Nick is probably the version most familiar to the general non-comic-reading public. Of course, having Samuel L. Jackson play Fury in the various recent Marvel movies (including “Captain America: The First Avenger” and the upcoming “Avengers” movie) doesn’t hurt. Besides the movies, Nick’s also appeared in several recent Marvel TV cartoons, including “The Super Hero Squad Show,” “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” and “Ultimate Spider-Man.”

Nick Fury’s longevity (having served in World War II) is due to having received (as an unwilling test subject) a version of Captain America’s famed Super Soldier Serum. This gave him peak human strength and endurance, along with greatly slowing his aging and thus lengthening his lifespan. (In the regular Marvel Universe, Nick Fury had taken something called the “Infinity Formula,” which conferred similar longevity/health benefits.)

 

New Ultimate Marvel Spider-Man revealed to be biracial teen

Miles Morales

No spoilers warning, since this story’s already all over every other website by now…

Since its debut in 2000, I admit I haven’t paid a ton of attention to Marvel’s Ultimate line of books. Ultimate Marvel is an alternate universe (to the mainstream Marvel one) that’s meant to be easier to get into, with less history/continuity than the usual Marvel stuff. However, what stories (or story summaries) I’d seen felt too much like regular current superhero books to me, i.e. “grim and gritty”-fied versions of regular Marvel characters (see: the Ultimate version of Captain America… Cap as if he were written for the Fox News crowd/”grim and gritty” superhero fans), the usual crossovers, etc. Thus, I’ve not given Marvel’s own “Earth-2″ any more attention than mainstream Marvel… until now, that is.

Bleeding Cool (along with other media) have reported that the new Ultimate version of Spider-Man will be a biracial teenager named Miles Morales (his mother’s Latino, while his father’s African-American). Ultimate’s version of Peter Parker was killed off in a much-hyped recent storyline; until now, Peter’s replacement as Spidey was also hyped up with some secrecy. While this could’ve waited until my weekly “minorities in comics and animation” post, I thought it seemed important enough to remark on it now.

This marks a notable shift in thinking by one of the big two comic companies: an ongoing series about Marvel’s top superhero being a non-White character. Yes, it’s in an alternate universe, but so is the African-American Nick Fury, another Ultimate line creation. Ultimate-Fury’s also the most successful Ultimate character so far in terms of non-comics media. Every non-comic version of Fury in the past decade or so (including “The Super Hero Squad Show,” “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” and the modern Marvel movies) has used the African-American version, not the standard Marvel Universe version. Of course, alt-Nick being played in the movies by Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t hurt.

While I doubt I’ll be showing any love toward Ultimate-Cap anytime soon, I would be interested in reading about Mr. Morales, assuming he’s treated in a respectful or interesting manner, and not as “grim and gritty Spidey”/subject to being killed off in short order to bring Ultimate-Peter back. (For fans who want to read about a non-mainstream-continuity Peter Parker, there’s still the well-done and entertaining Marvel Adventures Spider-Man comic, which I recommend…).

Meanwhile, online comic venues have exploded with chatter about this development, though unfortunately some of it’s rather hate-filled and racist, as Bleeding Cool also summarizes. Thought about *not* linking to it, but I figured it’s important to see the worst side of so-called “fans”… even the “exception” praising the move posted at the bottom of the page comes off as somewhat snide (“race-baiting liberals”?).