James Robinson and Aco continue to send Nick Fury Jr. into visual striking exploits of super-spy derring-do with an infectious spirit of fun, this time giving him a first-class ticket on a high-speed train…into danger!
Writer: James Robinson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The first few installments of Nick Fury’s solo series have been a triumph of style over substance. That’s not to denigrate the quality of Robinson’s scripts, which breezily plunge the hero into over-the-top plots with absolutely no fat left to trim from each issue’s stand-alone narrative. Rather, like the best pop art, they are carefully constructed bits of entertainment that invite us to take a fresh look at all those chunks of the culture we’ve absorbed over the years and reconsider what (if anything) it really meant.
This issue, for instance, includes light jabs at the misogyny of the Bond mythos and the questionable nature of the protagonist’s preferred drink. However, Robinson’s far more interested in picking out what makes those stories so enduringly irresistible over 50 years after the first Connery film and boiling them down to their essence.
An even bigger part of what makes these bite-sized tales feel like a satisfying meal is penciler Aco’s consistently larger-than-life visuals, packed with fascinating details and op-art-influenced touches. This time, we get several double-page spreads showing off the kinetic force of the train serves as the setting for Fury’s latest mission – protecting the life of a brutal South American dictator who has valuable knowledge of cartel operations as he rides down the tracks toward his own arrest.
The art team, including inker Hugo Petrus and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, consistently fills the pages with intriguing touches as the train passes through a vibrant landscape and Fury, inevitably, gets caught up in a series of fast-paced action sequences. Rosenberg, in particular, contributes a bright, striking palette that befits the setting and brings home the energy of Aco’s figures.
After three issues, it seems clear this will remain a defiantly compressed book. Years of continuity-heavy comics have me constantly looking for some meaningful signs of a larger arc, but so far it’s just not there. Rather, Fury keeps saving the day in spectacular fashion and moving on to the next job, rendering the proceedings refreshingly simple and dropping any pretense to universe-shaking stakes. There are enough turns in the story to keep it engaging, but – so far – each adventure is just another day on the clock for SHIELD’s top field agent.
Now, the charm of that consequences-free approach, and of the focus on 60s pop culture homage, will likely wear thin soon enough if the series continues in the same vein for several more issues. The question is whether this run will end first, leaving us with several visually stunning and fun adventures, or Robinson and the team switch gears at some point to deepen our engagement with Fury as a character and the world around him. For now, I’m okay with staying aboard the train to appreciate all the pretty sights.