One of the initial inspirations for Decrypting Rita was the first issue of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I didn’t actually read it, mind you – I just read an appreciation of it, with a couple of pages scanned here and there. The description of it starting with Fury climbing a tower to fight a mysterious man resonated, and a little later that day I’d opened up Illustrator and drawn the title page of Rita.

The other night, I decided to finally read the damn thing. I found a torrent and set it to downloading. Today, I stuck the first volume of the comic onto the iPad and started reading.

The first issue quickly establishes that Fury is unkillable – first by killing Fury four pages in, then revealing this was actually a robot double on a testing exercise. Then by making Fury run two miles in less than ten minutes and catche a moving rocket sled to escape from a missile when a test of his invulnerable-to-explosions suit goes wrong.

Meanwhile, this down-on-his-luck dude is handed a briefcase full of two hundred thousand dollars and a bomb, phones home to tell his wife and kid, and is blown up.

It’s like Steranko wanted to eat his cake and have it too in the same way I’m doing with Rita: he’s got this wild tale of super-action and a story about normal human emotions. But in the end he gives up on it when Fury’s hyperkinetic action steals the show. Later issues are much more firmly about Fury. Me? I’ve got this crazy formalist experiment I want to try, so I keep having to think about the normal world as well as the crazy superpowered one. I also have a lot more space to work in, so I don’t have to dump huge chunks of plot via dialogue like Steranko does!

Of course, it also helps that I have no deadline on this thing, so I can keep on tying my brain in the knots required to write two stories at once. Steranko’s run on Nick Fury is all of about half a dozen issues before he moves on to other things.

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