Jim Steranko had a few key changes in mind for the character of Nick Fury when he took over the indestructible cigar chomper’s saga in Strange Tales, circa 1967. One was to get him into some sharper threads than the standard suit and tie he had been wearing as SHIELD leader, and to banish the stubble he sported out in the battlefield from his Howling Commando World War II era adventures. Early in his run, he had Fury symbolically shave in the mirror. A few issues later, he rolled out in a dynamic stealth “zip-suit.”
Steranko has said that whenever Fury was missing something, he just loaned him something of his own. Fury’s black uniform- and it was certainly intended to be black, a color often confused for bluish tones in comics, was said to be based on Steranko’s motorcycle leathers.
The uniform was depicted as black with brown, sometimes purple, straps for the duration of Steranko’s run with the character, through 1968 and the Nick Fury: Agent Of SHIELD days. It was only towards the end and the cover of issue #4 that the more familiar navy blue and white getup took off. That’s a testament to the strength and staying power of that instantly iconic image, basically the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover of comics.
Not only did this become the standard bearer going forward all the way from then to now, it became ever present. Where Steranko had the non-superhero Fury doing his hangtime and investigative work in civvies, only putting on the dynamic outfit to get into the serious shit, almost every artist since has had him perpetually dressed for action. For more than 40 years, navy blue and white has been de riguer- all on the abiding nature of this image. Naturally, the merchandise has followed suit, no pun intended.
Also before the time of this image, Fury used a number of different weapons. Steranko is very much from the Kirby school of ornate and wildly varied devices and machinery. In issue 5, he brought us a close look at this weapon:
This became the standard and trademark handgun for Fury. Retroactively made to nonlethally fire knockout darts, although when the SHIELD Colonel fired it during Steranko’s run it seemed plenty destructive.
Since the look I was going for in my custom predated this weapon and the above Marvel Legends Fury figure only came with one, but needed two “needle guns” to recreate the look on #4, I needed to jazz something up for my Strange Tales era figure. The holstered gun is just the Luger that came with Doctor Doom, but the weapon he’s brandishing was made from an M-60 I carved up with an Exacto. Fittingly, that weapon came with the Samuel L. Jackson version of Fury, which I pretty much bought for the sake of a collector’s completest mentality. It’s amazing how similar my piece came to the style of what I was going for given it’s haberdash nature. I painted the navy blue suit jet black, the white webbing I painted brown, but the tricky part was getting the skin tone right, in order to remove that stubble. I also made the white streaks in his hair a bit more pronounced.
Overall, a killer unique addition to my collection.