Since the alphabet is the building block of our language, the Powet Alphabet is the building block of what makes us geeks.

In a universe full of Super Soldiers, gods, mutants, monsters, robots, and just about everything else you can imagine, there is one organization that we can rely upon to keep tabs on all the madness and keep everything, and everyone, in line. That’s the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Division, more commonly known as S.H.I.E.L.D. And for the longest time, one man has been at the center of it all: Nicholas Fury. Nick has been many things during his lifetime: an amateur boxer, a WWII hero, a CIA agent, and a super spy. His most notable job was the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. While he may not shoot beams out of his eyes, have adamantium claws, wear a suit of armor, or have the proportionate strength of a spider, he is just as vital, if not more vital to the Marvel Universe, as any of its greatest meta-human champions.

Nick is the eldest of three children born to Jack Fury, a former member of the United Kingdom’s Royal Flying Corps. Nick became an amateur boxer through the Police Athletic League, and eventually joining the army during World War 2. He joined an elite group of soldiers known as the “Howling Commandos”, whose members featured future S.H.I.E.L.D agent “Dum Dum” Dugan. During his time with the group, he was caught a piece of shrapnel in his eye which would cause him to lose sight in that eye over the next few decades. He received another more serious injury when he stepped on a landmine. Dr. Berthold Sternberg found him and saved his life with the Infinity Formula, which both saved his life and prolonged his lifespan.

After the appearance of the Fantastic Four, the C.I.A recruits Fury as a liaison between the government and the many superheroes popping up. After becoming the head of S.H.I.E.L.D, the organization is used to keep an eye on superhero groups such as The Avengers, The X-men, and The Fantastic Four. The organization’s primary nemesis is Hydra, a terrorist organization led by Fury’s WWII nemesis Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker. Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D have employed a series of robots known as Life Model Decoys, or LMDs for short. These are robots designed to match the appearance of a person so they can be used as body doubles. One such LMD of Nick Fury took the place of the real Fury when it was ‘killed’ by the Punisher (who had been convinced that Nick Fury was behind the deaths of his family). A funeral was even held for it, and not even Wolverine’s enhanced senses could tell that it was a fake. When Fury went on the run, Maria Hill and later Tony Stark used LMDs of Fury to keep his disappearance secret as much as possible, as only a few members of the international community knew about his status.

Things got hairy when Latveria’s new ruler, Lucia Von Bardas was discovered by Fury to have been bankrolling the Tinkerer, who supplies most ot of Marvel’s tech-based villains with their gear. This basically meant that Von Bardas was bankrolling terrorism. When his warnings fell upon def ears within the government, he assembled a team of superheroes to dispose her. However, one of the recruits, a teenager named Daisy Johnson was ordered to use her quake-based powers to bring down the castle, seemingly killing Von Bardas. The incident was then erased from the heroes’ minds. This deed would come back to bite Fury in the ass a year later, as Von Bardas, now a cyborg, launched a full scale attack on Manhattan. Though she was stopped by the combined efforts of the X-men, Fantastic Four, and the Avengers, this caused a rift between Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D, and the superhero community. Fury resigned as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D and went on the run. Maria Hill would take over as head of S.H.I.E.L.D, and after the superhero civil war, Tony Stark would take over.

Fury didn’t let being on the run stop him however. He was among the first people in the Marvel Universe to discover that the alien race known as the Skrulls were secretly replacing people, including various metahumans and even S.H.I.E.L.D agents in a bid to take over Earth. He assembled a team of super-powered youths, most of them having received their powers from having a superhero or super villain as a parent, to train and combat the menace. After the threat had passed, these “Secret Warriors” acted as one of Fury’s many independent sleeper cells in order to battle Hydra. It’s during this time that a number of shocking revelations were made. For starters, S.H.I.E.L.D, or at least its current form, was just a front group for Hydra. Apparently, Hydra would use S.H.I.E.L.D to keep tabs on what information was being put out there about them and to eliminate any competition. Secondly, Fury and his crew discovered that there was another terrorist organization known as Leviathan, who could very well be an even greater threat than Hydra. It was formed by Russians for an unclear purpose, and it had members within various world governments. Former S.H.I.E.L.D agent Allegra De Fontaine was secretly a triple agent, working for both S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra while hiding her true loyalties to Leviathan. Finally, Nick Fury, along with Baron Strucker, and several others, including his brother Jacob Fury (the villain Scorpio) and comrade Dum Dum Dugan, were part of a group called The Zodiac. This isn’t the supervillian group Zodiac (although it’s leader, Taurus, was a member) that battled the Avengers or the Zodiac gang that battled Alpha Flight, but a group formed by Leonardo Da Vinci, who is still alive in the Marvel universe and was a member of one of the earliest incarnations of S.H.I.E.L.D. You can read more about these developments in the awesome Secret Warriors series.

Just as there are many different Marvel Universes, there are many different versions of Nick Fury. The version of Fury shown in the Mutant X universe is an anti-mutant racist, and S.H.I.E.L.D is an anti-mutant terrorist group which brainwashes its members into lynching mutants. The 1602 Nick Fury is Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, and goes by the name Sir Nicholas Fury. The Nick Fury depicted in Garth Ennis’ Fury miniseries is a Cold War veteran who has grown disgusted with S.H.I.E.L.D’s bureaucratization and wages war against an agent of HYDRA determined on starting World War III. The most prominent alternate Nick Fury however, is Ultimate Nick Fury, who is an African-American whose likeness was patterned after actor Samuel L Jackson. It is this Nick Fury who appears in the Iron Man movies, and will appear in other Marvel movies, most notably The Avengers and Thor.

Arguably, Nick Fury is the glue that holds the entire Marvel universe together. Weather it’s gather intel on the various heroes and villains, attacking secret and unknown threats before they become bigger problem, or waging clandestine operations against terrorist organizations, Nick Fury stands alongside Charles Xavier, Tony Stark, and Captain America as one of its most vital figures.