In one of the comments, Marc Caputo asked me if I'd ever read the Nick Fury vs. SHIELD series from the late 80s. He said he remembered it being "very good," but it was in storage, so he couldn't take a look at it. I began writing a reply to him, but it became so long, I thought it would work better as a post so everyone can read about my relationship with that six-issue series:
When Nick Fury vs. SHIELD came out (in 1988), my brother was the big Marvel collector and I bought the DC stuff (that way, between the two of us, we could read EVERYTHING--and, oh yeah, I also bought all the "independent" stuff like Pacific, and Eclipse, and Comico). Neither of us could find that "vs. SHIELD" series, because our local store didn't stock any of the square bound comics, or, if they did, they didn't stock enough, because we never saw those issues on the racks. The series looked like the coolest thing ever, with the painted covers and all. I'm sure we read all about it in Marvel Age, which we faithfully purchased every month. Marvel Age, by the way, was Marvel's in-house promotional comic book magazine. It had plenty of preview art, listings of upcoming comics, and very, very thin articles about comics and creators. In other words, it was Marvel.com a decade before the internet existed.
My brother and I finally tracked down a complete set of Nick Fury vs. SHIELD at the very first "convention" we went to, probably around 1990. By "convention," I mean hotel lobby where a bunch of dealers sold comics out of boxes. You may remember the type, back before conventions were places you could pay to see movie trailers and wait in long lines to get a glance at the cheerleader from Heroes.
I don't know what I purchased at that convention, but my brother got the Nick Fury, plus a copy of Captain America #100 (the first issue of the Marvel Cap series). I didn't get anything close to that cool, so when we got home, I couldn't wait to read this elusive Nick Fury series that we'd read so much about. When I finally got a chance to open the covers, I was disgusted. The painted covers hid some of the ugliest comic book art in history. I haven't double-checked on this, but I'm pretty sure Paul Neary penciled the series, and I really can't blame him, he was just the penciler. I thought his art on Captain America had been serviceable, and I'd seen some of his British stuff to know that he was a decent-enough artist. But the coloring was both the most muted and garish work that I had ever seen. The whole comic looked like it'd been colored in faded piss. Quite a contrast to the dynamic, fully-painted covers. I don't know that I ever read the series once I looked inside.
I'm sure I've read stuff with worse art, but the sheer disappointment was too much to bear.
So, no, I guess I haven't honestly read Nick Fury vs. SHIELD, but maybe I'll take another look at it, now that it's had nearly two decades to soften the disappointment. I do own the series myself, now. I bought my brother's entire collection off of him when he went to college.
The comic can't be any worse than the Nick Fury made-for-tv-movie starring the Hoff, can it?