By the time I started reading Marvel Comics, around 1970, I had missed Steranko's great runs on Captain America and SHIELD. I first encountered Nick Fury in the pages of the Avengers and Captain America. I thought he was ultra-cool, to say the least, the first time I saw the Helicarrier in Cap's book. During the Kree-Skrull war, Cap and the Avengers met with Fury in a space-orbital carrier. Fury had all the toys a boy could want, a radical girlfriend in Val (with her crazy Bride of Frankenstein hair), and his best friend was called Dum Dum Dugan.
I was primed for a SHIELD solo title. Nick Fury and his Agents of SHIELD in 1972 was my first.
Steranko's cover was amazing to me. Fury and the other agents were in underwater gear, attacking a base full of crazed AIM agents in glass-enclosed secret base. I had seen Diamonds Are Forever the year before and just gotten in James Bond. This cover brought that Bondian style into comics, shaken and stirred with a Marvel twist.
The stories inside were Jack Kirby and Don Heck reprints. Sure, it was a bit disappointing that the cover artist didn't draw the stories inside. But I was thrilled to learn the early history of Nick Fury. Whenever I read a Marvel reprint book, I felt like an archeologist opening up an undiscovered Egyptian tomb.
The cover to Nick Fury and his Agents of SHIELD #2 was a bit more in the classic Steranko mode. In addition to Fury, I was able to learn about SHIELD's supporting cast: Gabe Jones, Clay Quartermain, and my favorite, the bookish Jasper Sitwell. Sitwell's rallying cry, Don't Yield, Back SHIELD! still rings in my memory. I can't figure out why Sitwell has dropped of the face of Earth 616.
This reprint title only lasted five issues, not long enough to cover Steranko's Strange Tales run. Years later I would discover Steranko's 1960s work and be blown away once again. Nuff said.