The Watcher, as you should well know, has been killed, and many separate teams were assembled to investigate the killer. The teams were all given locations to inspect by their mysterious leader, where they found various creatures (and even a planet) killed by golden bullets. The Winter Soldier decided to break from his group and assassinate Nick Fury, who turned out to be a life model decoy. Eventually, all the groups and Bucky convened at space satellite. The heroes fought among each other until they were encountered by a very old Nick Fury!
The story opens up with Nick Fury in the middle of a battlefield within Kansas during the year 1958. Present Fury describes his past self as “an eager young spy who still thought the world was a fairly simple place.” He found himself facing a threat far worst than that of Iwo Jima or Berlin: aliens were invading Earth through a portal. The aliens threw a grenade of some sort and killed the soldiers in Fury’s regiment. This was the first full-scale invasion Fury has ever faced, and they had already destroyed the entire Kentuckian town.
Before the invaders could do any more damage, an armed man in a gold and yellow costume and a jetpack defeated many of the villains. That is, until he was shot in the leg and stabbed in the stomach. As the man lay on the ground, dying, he told Fury, “Always thought it would be Skrulls who got me. Not these bunch of nobodies.” Fury asked him if there was anybody he wanted to send a message to before he died, but he simply explained that the “only folks waiting” on him will see him “in Hell.”
Suddenly, a bomb blew up the portal and killed the aliens. The man said, “Tell me it was worth it.” Then, he passed away. Howard Stark, Tony’s father, ran to Fury, revealing the bomb was his. Fury pointed a gun at the scientist, but he explained, “I’m on the side of the humans. Trust me, aliens can’t grow mustaches.” Stark, upon seeing the deceased hero, was disappointed to know the Tribellians killed him. “Who the hell was this man who just died to save the world?” Fury asked.
Following that, Stark drove Fury to a mountain base in his flying car. He explained that there have been dozens of near-alien invasions, but Woodrow McCord, the man Fury watched die, prevented them. He was the “man who guards the wall…between us and annihilation.” The men enter a daunting lab full of alien technology. Although a group of men paid for the base, McCord operated independent from the government or any organization. He was the “first and last line of defense” for Earth, and he made sure nobody even needed to know he existed. Stark explained, “There must always be a man guarding this wall. Tell me Colonel Nicholas Joseph Fury of Hell’s Kitchen, New York… Just how much do you love your country?” Fury considered Stark’s offer, then pointed at a rocket and asked, “This thing…It actually fire?”
On an alien planet, a group pig-human-like alien offered a plot to its masters to “harvest” the planet and people of Earth. “These are carbon-based life forms, my lords, which as we know, given the proper seasoning, can be quite delectable,” the creature described. Suddenly, the alien was shot dead in the head. It is revealed that Fury was the one who fired the bullet. Present-time Fury explains, “I took the job without hesitation. I’d been a soldier and spy for as long as I could remember. I figured this was the same job I’d always been doing, just…a bit bigger in scope.”
Fury described killing monsters in the underground tunnels of Mole Man’s reign and the Netherworld, a trippy other dimension. (The ones he sent the heroes to analyze.) “Instead of being sent to destabilize a Southeast Asian country that some desk jockey worried might someday be a threat to our way of life…I was taking down aliens who wanted to eat us,” Present Fury expounds.
Nick Fury continued this job, even as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. He listened to agents describe current world problems, such as Hydra activity, a gamma bomb accident in New Mexico, and the reports of a man-spider. When his alarm went off, Fury rushed away, excusing it as his “Aunt Matilda’s birthday.” He refused to tell anybody at S.H.I.E.L.D. about his side job.
The only ones Fury trusted with his secret were life model decoys, who caught a Skrull in orbit one day. The alien demanded for his rights, but Fury explained that only applied to Earthers. He then continued to torture the Skrull.
In a separate occasion in New York City, Fury sat waiting with a sniper rifle on a rooftop. A life model decoy told him that new bullets were designed off of Bruce Banner’s gamma bomb. (Hence, the radioactive bullets the heroes found in all of the dead creatures and the Watcher.) When Fury’s target, the Amazing Spider-Man, swung by, he stopped himself from assassinating him. “There’s something different about this one. Call it a gut feeling,” Fury said. He decided to allow Spidey to live in case he became something “special.”
Present Fury explains that Howard Stark eventually died and many superheroes came and went, but he never lost control of himself. There were some jobs, though that weren’t meant for somebody of Captain America’s moral. For example, he blew up a planet. (Which was found by Moon Knight, Gamora, and the Winter Soldier.) Fury expounds, “I’ve killed…more times than I can count. I’ve burned worlds. Destabilized galaxies. Dethroned gods. And I did it without any of them even knowing my name.” He was the “monster who keeps the other monsters at bay.” He was the unseen. But the Watcher did see him.
In present time, Nick concludes that that is why he has assembled all the heroes to his space base. Ant-Man asks why he is so old, and Strange refuses to believe Fury would do any of what he explained. Emma Stone and the Punisher, on the other hand, have no problem with his story. The Orb begins to mention that Fury isn’t telling the whole truth, but suddenly falls to the floor with a scream. Fury explains that he is simply overwhelmed by what he saw on the moon, and instructs his LMDs to take him to the interrogation room. Ant-Man refuses to believe him and Black Panther wants to know what happened to the Watcher. Nick answers, “He died. And now… Now I suppose it’s my turn.”
If you’ve followed this series, then you know this is the obvious turning point of the event. Up until this, the heroes were all running around like headless chickens, but Fury’s revelation as “guardian of the Earth” established a solid direction series. Of course, this doesn’t solve any questions, but it does begin to unravel the cryptic nature of the plot.
Sadly, I refuse to call it a particularly good turning point. The idea that Fury’s been protecting Earth from alien invasions is absolutely absurd! Where has he been during the weekly alien invasions of the Marvel Universe? Or the other-dimension attacks? Or the tons of attacks by Mole Man? Or any villain’s attack for that matter? I mean, if he would have been able to so easily kill Spider-Man if he wanted to, why didn’t he ever manage to assassinate any major villains? I hope you understand how unbelievable and absolutely stupid Jason Aaron’s plot twist is.
Jason Aaron’s plot also lacks in presentation. He jumps around way too much in between scenes rather abruptly without offering any transitions. There are many one-page scenes that don’t even need to be included, such as Fury rushing out of his S.H.I.E.L.D. meeting and his torture of the Skrull, which didn’t particularly serve to advance the plot rather than confuse it. He is also inconsistent in explaining Fury’s true duties as “the unseen.” Just when the reader is convinced that he is responsible for stopping intergalactic threats, he starts dealing with domestic issues and other-dimensional monsters. Is his duty just to protect Earth from every possible threat on every plane of existence? Anyways, why did Fury even blow up a planet?
I think the only enjoyable element of this comic is Mike Deodato’s artwork. His panel layouts are just as interesting as ever and he draws a terrifically complex Fury. Deodato does his very best pacing the terribly choppy script Aaron passes to him. Still, he doesn’t get the action that his style excels with. Perhaps, after this title, he will return to a collaboration that works for him in Hickman’s New Avengers.
This is probably one of the stupidest plot twists I've ever read. One web for Deodato's artwork.
*Spoilers for the conclusion of this series*
I just read Aaron's conclusion for this event and it's about the stupidest comic book I've ever read. I think this event's ending is even worse than Age of Ultron's! It was just painful to read. Why did Fury kill the Watcher in the first place? Who knows? Why did the Winter Soldier become the protector of the universe after wanting to kill Nick Fury not a few hours before? Who cares? Why does the Orb have a eye attached to his stomach? I really don't wanna know! Hopefully, Rick Remender's upcoming AXIS event is better than most of the events Marvel has published in the past three years.
**Further update** Andrew Miller here, to say that I found this issue as wretched as Cody did, but for different reasons. If you're curious, see my Rave, ORIGINAL SIN #5 and Dirty Hands.