Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hail Hydra Comics

"Hail, HYDRA! Immortal HYDRA! We shall never be destroyed! Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place! We serve none but the Master—as the world shall soon serve us! Hail HYDRA!" was the oath taken by Hydra agents in Strange Tales #135 (August, 1965) as the villainous organization was established as the foes of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which stood for the Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division, at least at the time) and it's new director, Col. Nick Fury, himself a decorated veteran of World War II where he served as Sgt. Nick Sgt. Fury (then later Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos, which followed his WW II adventures....)  

S.H.I.E.L.D. also appeared first in this issue, which was written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby...but Hydra has a history both before that issue (in a stand alone tale in Atlas Comics' Menace #10 (March, 1954) where it was only a reference to an organization by a scientist in the tale "Half Man, Half...?" with art by Robert Q. Sale...but it was only a mention, and Stan and Jack created the green and yellow uniforms and the philosophy of the group...

...still, you can see the reach of Hydra extends even past its own beginnings!

Hydra vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

Hydra was the main foe of the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury for their entire run as half the feature of Strange Tales (from issue #135 to #168) as Nick and his team shared the book with the master of mystic arts, Doctor Strange.

The team then went to Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. for 18 issues from June, 1968 to March, 1971.

All these tales can be found in Marvel Masterworks:Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 has Strange Tales #135-153 (and Tales of Suspense #78 and Fantastic Four #21 which relate, and Tales of Suspense features stories on A.I.M. as well, which is a branch of Hydra at the time and Nick fighting them with Captain America, and the Fantastic Four story is a pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. appearance which brought Nick Fury from World War II to "modern times" and they faced the Hate-Monger).    
Marvel Masterworks:Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 has tales from Strange Tales #154-168 and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1-3 with story and art by Jim Steranko (and dialogue in early issues by Roy Thomas) and has battles against A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics); the Yellow Claw; as well as revealing the Supreme Hydra (who has ties to Nick's time in WW II as Sgt. Fury) and Nick's first fight with Scorpio!  
Marvel Masterworks:Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 has the stories from Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4-15, Avengers #72 and Marvel Spotlight #31 (Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #16-18 were reprints of Hydra battles from Strange Tales) and finishes Nick's battle against Scorpio as well as another battle with the Hate-Monger.

Still, this didn't end the Marvel Universe's battles with the forces of Hydra, as their coda implied...they came back else where many times.  A few of their other more important appearances include...

Hydra vs. Captain America

Hydra faced Captain America in a famous storyline by Stan Lee and Jim Steranko in Captain America #110, 111, and 113 (February-May, 1969).  These stories also feature a battle between Captain America and the Hulk, Hulk's young helper, Rick Jones taking on the identity of Bucky for a time (something hinted at all the way back when Cap was found in Avengers #4), and the introduction of Madame Hydra (who later became the Viper and worked with the Silver Samurai) and established Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra as supporting characters for future Captain America stories (as Nick's own book was cancelled a little while after these stories came out...).

These stories can also be found in the Captain America Omnibus #1 and in Marvel Visionaries: Jim Steranko which also has some of the better Strange Tales issues....and you can get just the Jim Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. tales in S.H.I.E.L.D. By Steranko: The Complete Collection which has all Jim's work on S.H.I.E.L.D. from Strange Tales and the Nick Fury well as some later work from other reprints!

Hydra vs. the Hulk

Hydra faced the Hulk in the Incredible Hulk #132 (October, 1970) in a story by Roy Thomas with art by Herb Trimpe and John Severin, wherein the evil organization convinced Hulk's helper, Jim Wilson, into trying to capture the Hulk.

It didn't work out so well for Hydra (and they tried to attack him again in Incredible Hulk #154, August, 1972 by Archie Goodwin and Herb Trimpe, with the help of Spider-Man foe, the Chameleon, shrinking the Hulk, who got some help himself from Hank Pym....the Ant-Man!).  Oddly, Hulk usually spent more time fighting the army (with General Thunderbolt Ross and Major Glenn Talbot) or S.H.I.E.L.D. itself than Hydra...

Hydra vs. Captain America II

Hydra faced Captain America, his new partner the Falcon (Sam Wilson, who changed from his orange and green costume to a red and white one in the first issue of this run), and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new Femme Force (a group of female agents including Agent 13/Sharon Carter and Nick Fury's lady love, the Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine, who had first appeared back in Strange Tales) with a run in Captain America #144-148 (December, 1971 to April, 1972).

The stories by Gary Friedrich and art by John Romita, Gil Kane and Sal Buscema also reenforced the idea of Hydra as factions, with a few Spider-Man villains (they had ties to organized crime...) being revealed as agents of Hydra (and tying a major Captain America foe as Supreme Hydra as well....a scene one kept waiting for in the Captain America: Winter Soldier movie...).

Hydra vs. the monsters

Hydra faced off against the Cat (Greer Grant Nelson), and severely injured the young much so that her mentor, Dr. Joanne Tumulo, revealed her own history as a member of the ancient race of cat people and changed Greer into the were-woman Tigra.

As Tigra, Greer helped defeat this group of Hydra with the help of the Werewolf by Night, Jack Russell in Giant-Size Creatures #1 (July, 1974, by Tony Isabella and Don Perlin).  Tigra had a brief solo feature in Marvel Chillers #3-7, and worked with Spider-Man, the Thing and the rest of the Fantastic Four here and there, and eventually joined the Avengers (briefly on the east coast, and was a founder of the West Coast Avengers offshoot).

Hydra vs. Daredevil and Black Widow

From Daredevil #120-123 (April-July, 1975) by Tony Isabella and Bob Brown, Hydra worked on the west coast, facing off against Daredevil (who had stopped Hydra from crashing the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl in Fantastic Four Annual #3) and the Black Widow (as well as the Contessa Val, Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan of S.H.I.E.L.D....who were also going to recruit Daredevil's friend, Foggy Nelson as an agent!).

Another Supreme Hydra is revealed (...yet another Spider-Man crimelord, different from the previous one mentioned earlier), as well as a few other villains (Daredevil foes like  el Jaguar and Blackwing, and Spider-Man/Cat foe the Man-Killer from the Cat's last appearance in Marvel Team-Up #8 were revealed to be Hydra agents, connecting a few disconnected storylines....).

Hydra vs. the Thing and Shang-Chi

Hydra's hordes attacked martial artist (and son of Fu Manchu) Shang-Chi and the Thing in England in Marvel Two-In-One #29 (July, 1977 by Marv Wolfman and Ron Wilson) as the two attempted to rescue scientist Dr. Kort.  This was part of a larger story from Marvel-Two-In-One #26-34, which started with the Thing helping Nick Fury against super powered Hydra agents Mentallo and the Fixer (who premiered back in Strange Tales), led to them pulling cyborg Deathlok from the future (and the Hydra agents taking control of his mind to have him kill the President), a quick detour with the Sub-Mariner, the work with Shang-Chi the Master of Kung Fu, a meeting with Spider-Woman (who was recently rescued from Hydra by Nick Fury) and battles against a mystery menace and help from the rest of the Fantastic Four, mostly the Invisible Girl, and a past mystic named Modred...all to help free Deathlok.  Deathlok, traitorous agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., plots against the United States and Hydra...sound familiar?

Hydra vs. the Invaders

Hydra had a history that reached all the way back to World War II.

In a group led by Baron Strucker (a Nazi foe of Sgt. Fury's who first appeared in Sgt. Fury #5 in January, 1964) in Marvel Universe #1-3 (June-August 1998 by Roger Stern and Steve Epting), Hydra faced the World War II superheroes the Invaders (Captain America, the android Human Torch, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Whizzer) as well as detailing a little of Hydra and the baron's past (like his battle with Captain Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders in Captain Savage #2-4, March-July, 1968).

Hydra did indeed have a history stretching back to World War II!

Hydra vs Sub-Mariner

Why didn't the Sub-Mariner remember Hydra...well, he had lost his memory sometime in the 1950s, and had become a homeless man wandering New York, and before Johnny Storm (the Fantastic Four's Human Torch) found him, Namor encountered the hordes of Hydra and the Fixer (Paul Norbert Ebersol) Thunderbolts -1 (July, 1997) by Kurt Busiek and Steve Epting.  The Fixer joins Hydra at this time (before his first appearance back in Strange Tales #141), and a little of the history of Baron Zemo is detailed as well, and sets up all the villainy that Hydra and its agents start.  It IS all connected!  Hydra has appeared in many more places in the Marvel Universe, and one never knows when they will show up again!

Hope you enjoyed Hydra's greatest hits, and the how the heroes of the Marvel Universe hit them back!

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