My fellow Wanderer Deane issued a challenge to me that I just had to follow up on, once I came to contemplate just what a hole I had in my collection. After I showed off my custom Steranko Nick Fury figure, he said “You need a Valentina to go with him…” I heard those words rattling around in my head until I finally had to make it so.
Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine is one of those characters who really separates the mere devoted fans from the front facing true believers, thanks to that mouthful (so to speak) of a name. Knowing that SHIELD stands for Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division? C’mon, everybody knows that. But if you know that whole name, you’re into it.
The Contessa was created by Steranko as a love interest for Fury, but one who would be no shrinking violet, the common unremarkable girlfriend character. She could hold her own, in fact she knocked Nick flat on his ass in front of Captain America in her very first appearance, just to prove a point. Illustrations of her kept Steranko in trouble with the Comics Code, and were often altered before print. When the page above first saw publication, Val’s shapely ass was converted into an amorphous black blob. The famous page below had it’s final panel changed.
The perhaps inadvertently suggestive gun in the holster shot was just blown up from the top panel. This was the original image, too hot for 1968:
So a figure of this character is not to be taken lightly. It’s important not to perv out for my own sense of pride, but also because she demands respect.
The idea for the pieces to use percolated in my head for awhile, but I finally decided to act when I got a hold of the new Marvel Legends Baron Zemo, which comes with a needle gun molded from the very first Nick Fury ML figure, only with a very flashy flourish- a leopard print handle. This had to end up with Val.
This figure began life as one of the better ML female figures, Hope Summers. Most of the early ML figures had a sort of proportionately odd marionette quality, which was particularly rough on figures of women characters, but this fairly recent effort was pretty solid.
The head popped off easily, so it was easy to go at that, as well as to ditch the cape. The gauntlets took a little jimmying, but they weren’t too difficult to remove. The rest was just a matter of painting, and also removing the holster belt from the previous Madame Hydra/Viper figure and painting it black. Fortunately, Viper also came with a needle gun, although hers was green.
Mr.S always drew her with her hair in a beehive, but I couldn’t come up with a head with one besides Marge Simpson, which would of course be inappropriate. I wanted to keep the leopard print of that pistol visible, so it stays holstered in display. That handheld cannon she’s brandishing is from the weapon Hope came with, carved up and painted into something sort of Kirbyesque and, hopefully, stylish.
You’ll note that the figure isn’t sporting a look like any you’ll see in any particular incarnation. I decided that with Val, I needed to get a bit creative and just come up with something unique. After all, she’s never drawn wearing the same thing twice.
Overall, a proud addition to my collection. Here she is with my period comic accurate Nick Fury, a Hot Wheels Ferrari 330/P4 Berlinetta like the one Steranko drew Fury in after his Porsche bit the dust, and a creeping visitor outside in the form of a Cosmic Cube toting Red Skull…who will one day be replaced by a Yellow Claw.
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Read more from me at RockoJerome.com.