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Saturday, January 31, 2015

SHIELD Key Issue Comics

Due to a request, we're gonna tackle some SHIELD key issues. There are not that many in this series and it will deal with some key issues within self titled series or the split feature where SHIELD started in Strange Tales. It won't directly be a first appearances of known or well-known SHIELD agents as there are an unbelievable amount of Marvel characters that were once agents or operatives.

First appearance of SHIELD
First appearance of Agent H
First appearance Imperial Hydra
First appearance of Hydra
First SHIELD Helicarrier

This issue is toted as the 1st appearance of Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, and since Strange Tales #135 also has the origin of how Nick Fury becomes an agent of the Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement, which was the original title of this organization before it was changed in the 90s to the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, it can also be said that this issue holds the first appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well.

And, no, I won't be spelling out the acronym every time, because it is a pain with all the periods. In this story, Tony Stark is already a member of this organization and in charge of the Special Weaponry Section. Nick Fury is chosen to lead the mission in order to destroy Hydra.

Of course, Fury is reluctant at first but agrees when he uncovers a bomb that's rigged to blow him and other high ranking officials. There are some important firsts in this issue, and not only is this the first appearance of SHIELD, it also has the first appearance of Hydra, which has become an important villainous organization in the comics as well as the Marvel's cinematic universe.

Agent H, is Laura Brown, whom was the daughter of the leader of Hydra back in those days. Her father's name is Arnold Brown. Unconvinced of her father's plot to conquer the world, Laura helped Nick Fury escape and saved his life. Much later, she would join SHIELD and become an agent of the organization.

As you already guessed, Arnold Brown is the Imperial Hydra, but the position is really a smoke screen for the true leader of the group. That bad man is Baron von Strucker. Great key issue for sure, and Strange Tales #135 was published August, 1965.

eBay - Doesn't seem to be any shortage of copies here for this key issue. Plenty of raw copies and quite a few CGC copies as well. Highest are 9.4 NMs and they're pretty up there already. Slabbed 8.0 VFs seem to be the best high grade options that are much cheaper in comparison. Of course, there are some mid-grade and lower grade slabs as well.

mycomicshop - Few copies here and all are in the low grade realm. One CGC 5.0 VG/FN is the highest copy and the rest are raw. Unslabbed highest is a VG minus. All are on consignment too.

ComicConnect - Only one CGC 9.4 NM copy here for now.

ComicLink - Only two CGC 9.4 NM copies here at the moment.

2nd appearance of SHIELD
2nd appearance of Hydra
First appearance of SHIELD Barber Shop HQ

Another 2nd appearance key issue I've yet to talk about on this site, Strange Tales #136 is a double whammy. Of course, this issue holds the 2nd appearance of SHIELD, but is also holds the 2nd appearance of Hydra.

Unlike the cinematic universe, Hydra started out as the main nemesis for SHIELD, not Captain America. A pretty minor but fun fact to acknowledge is that Strange Tales #136 has the first appearance of the Barber Shop front that provided access to the main underground complex that was SHIELD's headquarters. Yep, it was the Barber Shop chairs that actually descended down to the underground complex.

September, 1965 was when Strange Tales #136 was published, and I'm pretty sure this 2nd appearance key issue is pretty over-looked in the market right now.

eBay - Also appears to be quite a few raw copies here, but most are in the lower grades as expected. On the CGC front, there are three Signature Series copies and no Universal. The highest is a 7.5 VF minus out of the SS bunch. There is a CBCS 9.0 VF/NM copy however, and one PGX 4.0 VG.

mycomicshop - Three raw copies and one CGC copy. Slabbed copy is an 8.0 VF and is on consignment. All raw copies are low grade starting with a VG but they are all in stock.

NewKadia - Two raw copies with the highest being a VG minus.

3rd appearance of SHIELD?
3rd appearance of Hydra

Two friends from Nick Fury's past make their reintroductions in this comic. Those two are Gabe Jones and Dum Dum Dugan from the World War II Howling Commandos.

Of course, in Strange Tales #137, they are agents of SHIELD. I suppose you could say this is their first appearance as agents of SHIELD, but would anyone really care about that minor key notation? Maybe.

However, Strange tales #137 does have the 3rd appearance of Hydra in comics, but I am not so sure about the 3rd appearance of SHIELD. Reason for this is that Fantastic Four Annual #3 also features SHIELD and it came out around the month of October, 1965 as well.

As far as continuity goes, Fantastic Four #44 is the next issue after FF Annual #3 and FF #44 was published November, 1965. The story that precedes FF Annual #3 is Fantastic Four #43 which has the same publishing date of October, 1965 and features Reed and Sue before they're married.

Some sources out there are claiming the publishing date of this comic as January 6th, 1965 which makes no sense since it precedes the first appearance of Nick Fury as an agent of SHIELD, and the agency is clearly doing security for Reed and Sue's wedding in FF Annual #3.

So, confusing as it is, I'm going with Strange Tales #137 as the 3rd appearance of SHIELD though it may be wrong. This issue was published  October, 1965.

eBay - No shortage of this issue in raw low grades on eBay at the moment. Highest CGC copy is an 8.0 VF. There are two more, but one of them is Restored and the other is a VG.

NewKadia - VG and a GD copy are the only two in stock at the moment.

ComicLink - Two CGC copies with the highest being a 9.6 NM+ Rocky Mountain Pedigree. Other CGC slab is a 5.5 low FN.

First appearance of Jasper Sitwell

A little known agent of SHIELD, but an agent who has shown up plenty of times in the SHIELD related comic books is Jasper Sitwell. This agent has also had appearances in the Agents of SHIELD TV series as well as little known bit roles in such movies as Thor, the Avengers and Captain America Winter Soldier.

The character has also appeared in the Marvel One Shot short films The Consultant and Item 47. Highly over-looked SHIELD key issue, and though it may be a minor supporting character, it's still a key issue. So, Strange Tales #144 goes on here and published May, 1966.

eBay - Plenty of raw copies, and quite a few are in comic lots. Highest CGC copies are 8.5 VF+s and a lot of them are cheap.

mycomicshop - Two CGC copies here for now. Highest is an 8.5 VF+ and the other option is an 8.0 VF. The VF+ seems to have minor cracks in the slab as noted.

First Jim Steranko Marvel artwork

For fans of this series and of comic legend artist Jim Steranko, Strange Tales #151 is a biggie since it is his first Marvel Comics work. Steranko started off as an inker for Jack Kirby's pencils in this issue. Later he would take on writing, pencils, and inking duties as well.

The Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD series is the work that brought Jim Steranko acclaim, and it's his work with the character and the SHIELD series in Strange Tales and later the self-titled series that he is most known for. 

Definitely not a key issue to be missed. December, 1966 was when Strange Tales #151 was published.

eBay - Appears to be quite a few copies here on the mighty eBay. Of course, most are raw copies, but there are a few slabs. Highest is a 9.4 NM followed by a 9.2 low NM with an old label.

mycomicshop - Six copies, all raw, all in stock, and all low grade here at the moment.

ComicLink -Two CGC copies with one being a 9.4 NM Twin Cities Pedigree. Highest copy is a 9.6 NM+.

First appearance of Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine
First unnamed appearance of Jake Fury

In the mythos of SHIELD, Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine was a love interest for Nick Fury. Valentina would eventually become one of the leaders of SHIELD. Her character did appear on the small screen in the 1998 TV movie Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD starring David Hasselholff.

The first appearance of Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine was published August, 1967. 

eBay - Quite a few raw copies for this one. About seven slabbed copies located as well. Highest slab is a 9.4 NM Signature Series. Highest Universal is a 9.2 low NM.

mycomicshop - Six copies and only one of them is a slabber. Slabbed copy is a PGX 9.2 NM minus. Other four copies are all raw. Highest are in the mid-grade realm.

ComicConnect - Three raw copies and one CGC 9.2 low NM. Highest raw copy is a VF/NM 9.0. 2nd highest is an 8.0 VF that's up for auction as of this writing. There's also another VF raw copy as well here.

ComicLink - CGC 9.2 low NM and an 8.0 VF are the only two copies here at the time of this writing.

As stated at the beginning, this SHIELD key issue comics list only pertains to the feature or the titled series. It won't be all over the place with different titles since it seems that almost everyone has been a SHIELD agent at one point or another. 

Part 2 is on it's way to continue this key issue comics list. Stay tuned.


  1. Hello Mayhem,
    thanks for making this one happen so quick! The Strange Tales Series really has some nice issues to offer. However, I have a question regarding Tales of Suspense Nr. 94. Do you see any potential in the first appearance of Modok?

    1. MODOK is a tough one. The writers of Winter Soldier keep saying that they'd love to put MODOK somewhere, but even they admit that it's hard to find a place where the villain would fit least with the way the Marvel phase is leading up to.

      MODOK is a classic Marvel villain though. If you can find a high enough grade 8.0 VF at minimum that's still pretty cheap, I would say I'd give it a chance. If not, I would pass on it.