What happens when you take the world's most powerful heroes and throw them together to face a challenge no single man could withstand?
Can't we all just get along? Being an empowered champion of good is a task in itself, right? I mean, you have your family...
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The Top 10 Greatest Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel's Super-Secret Weapons of The United States.
There is only one America..
Left: Nick Fury. He will ALWAYS be the face of SHIELD.
And America's only chance in this desperate moment of turmoil are these agents -- men and women who secretly fight for your country, gifted with powers beyond the ordinary, coping with near extinction and facing death on a normal basis.
But hey! Don't feel sorry for them; it's part of the job. Created back in the 1960's (Strange Tales #135, Aug. 1965) through the cleverness of Stan "The Man" Lee and Jack "King" Kirby, we were introduced to this secret agency hidden below the fold, specializing and dealing with threats beyond the scope of imagination.
This is the Agency of the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate. This is S.H.I.E.L.D. And these unique individuals you are about to meet, they are your last hope!
If you happened here by chance, you are lucky; you just walked into one of the safest spots on the planet. This article touches on the most exceptional members of society who have served under SHIELD. Here, we are going to go over the top 10 super-heroic candidates ever enlisted in their roles. While they will be superheroes by most stretches of the imagination, some may have villainous tendencies. Others, still, may have defected or resigned. That's okay. It's time for the truth to be revealed.
Agent #10: Danielle Moonstar
Courier of The Dead
Steeped in the traditions of her Cheyenne native American background, Danielle Moonstar, or Dani to her friends, is one of those rare individuals born with unique talents that venture into superhuman rank. Yes, that's right, she's a mutant, learning of her special gifts during her teen years.
Although her past is somewhat of a mystery, Dani is recognized as a powerful agent; some of her abilities even put her in a mystical, perhaps mythical status. Aside from once being a creator of illusions with the ability to see visions, she was granted Valkyrie status after facing obstacles during an adventure in the Norse realm of Asgard.
But let's understand this: Dani has lost her powers and only recently regained her Valkyrie abilities after making a deal with Hela, goddess of death. To that end, she can sense when someone is about to die and even fight death to keep that person alive. In addition to the Asgardian raiment and weapons, she also has a flying steed named Darkwind, aiding her in travel. (FYI, these powers come and go as Hela now desires.)
Dani's union with SHIELD is mostly a brief stint in which she helped them deal with a malevolent group of mutants. Her agreement was to infiltrate the Mutant Liberation Front and expose their plans, eventually destroying them. After this, she resigned; SHIELD has seen little, and had even less, of her service.
Where you can find Danielle Moonstar
X-Men: Utopia Dani Moonstar was very relevant during the X-Men's takeover of the island known as Utopia and you can see her in this graphic novel. This occurs during the Dark Reign event, in which Normal Osborn becomes in charge of Homeland Security, starting up his own national force known as HAMMER. (Of course, no one ever figures out what the letters stand for.It also might be interesting for you SHIELD fans because Osborn has it dismantled. Besides Danielle Moonstar, you'll see some behind-the-scenes SHIELD action by none-other than Nick Fury himself.
Alert: In the latest Marvel movies, S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
Agent #9: Eric O'Grady
Codename: The Irredeemable Ant-Man
Among the numerous agents once active within the SHIELD organization, many have had virtues of honesty, bravery, and the characteristics of true heroes who were willing to lay their lives down for the safety of their nation. These were the qualities sought for when choosing who would serve our country’s most secret group.
But that’s got nothing to do with Eric O’Grady; we’re not even sure if he’s a hero. If one were to appoint a redeeming quality to this low-level agent, a face among many within the organization, it might have been ambition or determination. Then again, it may have been plain old greed. That’s because his rise to super-agent status came when he illegitimately acquired Hank Pym’s latest Ant-Man technology, originally destined for another.
O’Grady, first appearing in The Irredeemable Ant-Man #1 (2006), technically qualifies as one of the great agents of SHIELD, but not because of his morals; they stink. Not only is he a pervert, using the prototype as a means of stalking and watching women, but he also practice lots of thievery, bypassing security with his diminutive size.
Somehow, it’s all really funny; if you can get past his lack of character, Eric O’Grady has ended up as one of the most colorful and entertaining wearers of the Ant-Man suit. With adventures that have spanned the spectrum of villainous to scandalous, somehow he managed to make a push towards heroism, eventually settling into The Secret Avengers.
Item of the Day: The Irredeemable Ant-Man
Mostly concerned with saving himself and getting the girl, that’s Eric O’Grady, once a typical low-level agent of SHIELD. His initial series was The Irredeemable Ant-Man, which started in 2006 and ran for 12 issues. If you’re looking for a completely immoral superhero, and want to laugh throughout the entire story, O’Grady makes a great counterpart to Deadpool. Personally, I’d like to see them team up. Eric O'Grady can also be found in groups such as The Initiative, Damage Control, The Shadow Initiative, and The Thunderbolts, where Norman Osborn decided to use him to help manipulate the President.
Agent #8: Carmilla Black
First appearing in Amazing Fantasy, vol. 2 #7, Carmilla Black was one of SHIELD’s more recent operatives, taking on the role as a field agent when she was searching for information regarding her past. What she learned was that her mother worked for Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) a terrorist organization; this put Carmilla, codenamed Scorpion, on multiple sides, working as an agent with her own agenda.
Although much of her tech is outfitted with SHIELD innovations, Carmilla is genetically a product of her mother, a brilliant A.I.M. scientist named Monica Rappaccini and an unknown father. (There have been suggestions that this could be Bruce Banner, but it has not been substantiated.) Her body chemistry has natural defenses against all forms of viruses, diseases, toxins, and poisons, eliminating their effects. She is also been known to feed off them when necessary.
In addition to her natural defenses, she is capable of genetically storing and delivering poisons, usually through the left hand. This was altered, however, when she gained a bio-genetic or bio-cybernetic tail, which also delivered attacks for her.
While there is still much of Carmilla’s story to be told, she’s become one of the key, unique individuals with SHIELD. history; in the last few years she has shown up frequently and clearly her story isn’t finished. As of late, she’s abandoned the organization and is taking on random contracts.
The Origin of Carmilla Black: Scorpion: Poison Tomorrow (New Avengers, World War Hulk) In her earliest incarnation, Carmilla Black was considered more along the lines of type of teenage mutant, perhaps fitting in to the New Mutants scope of comic book lines. Although her powers were genetically enhanced at birth, she fits the profile with the ability to naturally fight off all kinds of immuno-level threats including those of radiation. What we eventually learned, though, is that Carmilla is headed in another direction. In this story, we pick up on her origin; how she discovered true parts concerning her heritage, embarking on a quest to open it up and learn everything. In that venue, she becomes the Scorpion, an agent of SHIELD serving multiple purposes; while she's working on top-level field assignments, she's also, secretly, looking for intelligence concerning her birth.
Agent #7: Tony Masters
Codename: Taskmaster, Super-trainer for SHIELD
Dwelling in the undersides of the criminal world, only recent to the cause of actually assisting SHIELD and those in crisis, Tony Masters is recognized as the fully adaptive Taskmaster, an individual capable of performing any style of combat, acrobatic techniques, and unique maneuvers. As the villainous weapon-wielding fighter, Tony first appeared in Avengers vol. 1 #195 (May 1980) and nearly beat them to a pulp by taking them on with their own abilities.
The brilliance of Masters’ skill, sometimes referred to as a power, is that he only needs to watch you; by visually studying another person in action, normal or superhero, he can duplicate their movements through a process known as Photographic Reflexes. Until recently, it was believed that he might have some form of mutant-birthed ability; the truth, however, revealed in his Taskmaster mini-series (Taskmaster vol. 1 2010), turned out far more troubling.
Tony Masters’ powers are the result of an experimental serum and it seems he has always been a sleeper agent for SHIELD; the organization pushed him into the field of criminal intelligence-gathering because of a side-effect that causes him to lose his past memories. And that was not the only shocker; he later learned that his contact to SHIELD, Mercedes Merced, was also his wife. Her job has been to keep his affairs in order and act as his surrogate memory.
Only recently in the last few years has Masters come to terms with his real identity. (For those of in the comic book world, we had previously thought him a relentless super-villain.) Now he’s fulfilling the role of super-agent trainer; with Taskmaster’s precision-level, he hones new recruits to react to emergencies and has an advisor-rank privilege to coordinate teams for SHIELD. To this end, nobody is better than him. On the downside, there’s no point in giving him a commendation or medal; he won’t remember.
Recommended Reading: Taskmaster: Unthinkable Plot: Taskmaster has trained henchmen and thugs for every terrorist organization and criminal cartel in the Marvel Universe. So when the rumor starts that he's turned traitor and now works for Steve Rogers, a billion-dollar bounty is put on his head, and every cadre of costumed fanatics looks to collect. Now Taskmaster has to fight hordes upon hordes of his psychopathic students while at the same time figuring out who framed him. This graphic novel covers the actual 2010 Taskmaster mini-series, issues #1-4. From an insider's perspective, the series was pretty sound. It took Taskmaster to new levels because you understood that Masters was actually a good guy caught in a bad situation. His mind, to adapt to all the combat styles, gets rid of all the neural connections associated with his past. Because of that unfortunate consequence, Tony believes he's a bad guy...and that's why he does bad things.
Agent #6: Jessica Drew
Codename: Spider-Woman, the SHIELD agent that never was...
Of the many problems surrounding you if you’re a fan of SHIELD is the multitude of alliances, double-dealings, and layers of protocol and bureaucracy needing clarified from issue to issue. On one page, your hero starts off as an SHIELD agent; the next he or she is a spy, working for HYDRA.
In this case, however, the reverse is true. Born on the British Isles, Jessica Drew, codename Spider-Woman, was raised and recruited at a young age to work with HYDRA (it is suggested that she was brainwashed into their service.). With her spider-agumented agility, venom blasts, and rare power of exuding mind-influencing pheremones, she was a perfect operative for assassination, seduction, and espionage.
Jessica’s affiliation with SHIELD, though, ends up being her greatest, and worst, adventure. When Nick Fury was removed as Director, she was re-approached by HYDRA and coerced into being their double-agent. Reluctantly, Jessica agreed, but secretly she kept contact with Fury and exchanged information.
Ok, friends, this is where it gets really weird. What stunned most of Spider-Woman’s fans was that the HYDRA double-agent wasn’t Jessica Drew at all; it was a Skrull impersonator. The real Jessica had been captured and imprisoned on an alien ship orbiting the planet. The mission of the Spider-Woman imposter was to infiltrate the secret organizations and learn their protocols. (This is covered in Marvel’s Secret Invasion event.)
Somehow, through all this, Jessica managed to survive the ordeal; although she had never truly served SHIELD in the past, she is now considered tied to the organization from here on.
Also Recommended: Essential Spider-Woman, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials) I'm a big fan of The Essentials that Marvel released for their superheroes. One of the great advantages of this one is that you get to pick on some of Spider-Woman's earliest adventures, learning some of the subtle details of her past, including her affiliations with HYDRA and SHIELD. At the same time, for the amount of stories you get, this book comes extremely cheap. Plot: Before she was an Avenger, she was... a Hydra agent?! Witness the Arachnidian Adventuress's dire debut against Nick Fury, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. - and a follow-up arc alongside the ever-lovin', blue-eyed Thing! After working a few bugs out of her origin, she set up shop in California and faced an array of eccentric enemies rarely equaled to this day! Includes the introduction of several characters by the late great Mark Gruenwald! Featuring Shang-Chi, the Werewolf by Night, the Shroud, and more! Collects Marvel Spotlight #32, Marvel Two-In-One #29-33 and Spider-Woman #1-25.
Agent #5: Bobbi Morse
Codename: Agent 19, The Mockingbird
You’ll find few SHIELD agents with a legitimate, loyal past to the organization. Somehow, it’s just not in the cards; if you’re going to play for SHIELD on one weekend, you might be working with HYDRA on Monday or some unique off-brand circle by Wednesday.
Advanced biologist Barbara “Bobbi” Morse, though, seems to fit in a mold only she can claim; with obscure and misdirecting roots going back to the 70s (Astonishing Tales #6, 1971), she had been trained and contracted to perform high level missions as “Agent 19”. Her first adventure was to spend most of her time along Ka-Zar of The Savage Land. (Although the details are now a matter of the past, she was believed to have an affair with him until Shanna the She-Devil showed up.) Later in that era, she adopted the title “Huntress” for awhile, notoriously connected with tinted glasses and a body suit.
Somehow, though, it managed to all come together in Marvel Team-Up #95 (1980), with none other than Spider-Man. That’s when we learned she had adopted the codename “Mockingbird” after she begins exposing corruption in SHIELD; although the Fury and the organization were hunting her, she maintained her loyalty inside and throughout.
Most of us who have followed Mockingbird know one thing: she has no powers and is a superior-trained agent with bo staves. Just to keep you up to date, that changed in Marvel’s Fear Itself event. Bobbi recently was infused with a Super-Soldier/Infinity combination serum that’s given her super strength and agility.
Recommended Reading: Hawkeye & Mockingbird: Ghosts
Plot: Hawkeye, the world's greatest marksman is back-and reunited with the world's most dangerous super-spy, Mockingbird-in an all-new adventure! The deadly duo defied every obstacle to make their way back to each other and put together the all new WCA team-but now the one thing that divided them years before has returned to haunt them: the Phantom Rider!
This issue collects the 2010 releases of Hawkeye and Mockingbird. No longer the heroic do-gooders of the past, when you saw them in The West Coast Avengers, Clint Barton is back from the dead; Bobbi is recovering from her kidnapping and rape. These two somehow reconcile their issues and join up as a deadly duo!
Agent #4: Natasha Romanoff
The Black Widow, from Russia with love...
It can be said that some of the world’s greatest spies are not exclusive to SHIELD…or the United States. While SHIELD is known for its intensive training and population of super-powered agents, it does not hold the entire market. Instead, they come from other corners of the planet, usually bent of destroying the nation or, at least, harming it in some way.
And that’s how Natalia Romanoff, later known as “Natasha”, becomes associated with SHIELD. Her story stems from Soviet training, being part of their “black ops” units skilled in espionage, subterfuge, and assassination. Codenamed “Black Widow” because of two energy blasters on her wrists, she originally was a great nemesis to the United States and The Avengers.
We can thank Tony Stark for her change in allegiance; originally hired to kill the inventor, her attempts were thwarted and somehow became attracted to him. Still later, things changed when she realized part of her past was “brainwashed” into her by the KGB; from there forward, she defected into the States and never looked back.
Nowadays, Natasha works closely with The Avengers, SHIELD, and even serves in the joint venture known as The Secret Avengers, continually using her skills as a trained killer to handle the more subvert and necessary operations of the organization. For the secret organization, she is a highly valued resource, but will only work independently, never placing her entire trust with anyone.
Recommended Reading: Black Widow: Kiss or Kill Plot: A senator is seduced and assassinated, and his journalist son follows the trail to a fatally sexy Soviet agent. This deadly "woman in black" moonlights as a high-class escort to lure powerful men into her web of blackmail and death. But Nick Crane believes he's finally found his father's murderer, and he's about to expose...the Black Widow! Plus: Tony Stark gets his spy on, and the Black Widow proves she's an Iron Man's best friend, when the Armored Avenger goes undercover to take down a foe using his own decommissioned tech! This TPB collections Black Widow (2010) #6-8 and Iron Man: Kiss And Kill. If you like political intrigue, you'll enjoy this compilation on Russia's premiere spy. It starts off with her being framed for a series of assassinations; her only recourse is to hunt down the culprit and clear herself.
Agent #3: Tony Stark
SHIELD and the family business.
As you have probably surmised, many of the heroes and spies associated with SHIELD have a long history with the organization. Some go back decades, having the training and traceable ties; others seem to continually intersect their operations time after time, falling in and out of grace.
That’s where Tony Stark comes in; in some shape or form, the Stark family name has been working with the organization for at least two generations, heralding some of its greatest advances. And all this might be surprising to note because neither Tony, nor his father, have ever officially been recognized as agents.
SHIELD never releases all their data, but as far as accounts can tell, Tony’s father, Howard Stark, was involved in many of the countries technological achievements, including the H-bomb and Super-Soldier program, helping them against the hordes of Hitler. Later, Tony would continue the Stark legacy, supplying SHIELD with many of their weapons, popularizing the notion that SHIELD was part of the “family business”.
In the last few years, Tony’s role in SHIELD took a dramatic turn when he was part of Marvel’s “Civil War”. In that event, although he had never directly served as a SHIELD agent under their training, he was given the role of Director, supervising all of their operations. Tony’s major contribution to the event (if you can all it that) was The Superhero Registration Act, which forced all “powered” people to comply with government standards, and the creation of The Initiative, a government, State-by-State super-powered response to threats.
Recommend Reading: Iron Man: Director of SHIELD (Paperback) Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes place after their "Civil War", a time where heroes were forced to choose a side between serving the government or working on their own, illegally. As Iron Man, Tony Stark believed that all the super powers needed regulation; he quickly rose to a position of authority for the U.S. After that fated event, his loyalty was rewarded; he was elavated to Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., replacing its icon of espionage, Nick Fury. This book collects Iron Man #15-18 as well as two other issues (a Strange Tales issue with Nick Fury and an earlier Iron Man story that ties into the SHIELD theme) and I will say right now that some people liked this while others didn't; there's a disagreement about Tony's role and his past history. But you make the decision on that one.
Agent #2: Steve Rogers
Captain America: The Super-Soldier
Captain America is a staple icon of The United States and can be seen everywhere, including as far back as the 1940s when he first appeared in Captain America Comics (1941). At the time, he was nothing more than a patriot; a sickly, almost disabled young man with a heart of American Exceptionalism and a will of iron. Somewhere in his origin, this “Avenger” who we knew as Steve Rogers, was endowed with a miracle process known as the Super-Soldier formula and physically and mentally raised to the heights of human standards.
Now; how does this relate to SHIELD? Answer: who do you think chose Rogers for the Super-Soldier program?
That’s right. SHIELD has been behind Captain America since his origin, supplying him with missions, information, and even his unbreakable shield. Although past and current accounts of his adventures have clashed, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Steve Rogers has continually interacted with SHIELD operatives, enemies, and contractors throughout his life. (Examples would Howard Stark, Sgt. Nick Fury, the Red Skull and HYDRA, etc.)
In recent times, Steve has shed the Captain America uniform to serve as the new Director of SHIELD, being given the title because his high morals and lack of corruption; he took the job to clear the conscious of his country, replacing Nick Fury and his successors after a series of serious failures in the government (we know those failures as the “Secret Invasion” and “Dark Reign”). Only very recent has his role in SHIELD been questioned, when he retook the mantle of Captain America after his friend, Bucky, who was assuming the role, had been killed.
Recommended: Captain America: The First Avenger (Three-Disc Combo) Being a fan of superheroes, yep, I saw the movie. One of the most important aspects of Captain America, though, is that he originated in the World War II era. And that was key to me going in; sure enough, with Tommy Lee Jones and an excellent supporting cast of characters, Cap, played by the role of Christopher Evans, is true to the time, lending a sense of our "Greatest Generation". Product Description: Captain America leads the fight for freedom in the action-packed blockbuster starring Chris Evans as the ultimate weapon against evil! When a terrifying force threatens everyone across the globe, the world’s greatest soldier wages war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix). Critics and audiences alike salute Captain America: The First Avenger as “pure excitement, pure action, and pure fun!” – Bryan Erdy CBS-TV
Agent #1: Director Nick Fury
The Man Behind SHIELD
Of all the agents who have ever served with SHIELD, only one has been so intertwined with the organization on multiple levels that their identities are forever joined. In nearly every story, every intricate plot whether he is present or not, Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD, is referenced and influencing their outcomes.
Nick Fury is the greatest agent of SHIELD, having received his accolades from as early back as the 60s when he showed up in Fantastic Four #21 (1943) and Strange Tales #135 (1965). But even before that he was still serving his country in WWII in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos (1963).
If you noticed above, there’s a slight discrepancy with the timelines. In the Fantastic Four issue, Nick Fury is already working with SHIELD, but two years later, he’s accepted as an agent for the organization. As well, Nick is also near the same age in World War II as he is now. So what’s going on?
Well, put it all to rest. Besides the fact that whatever happens in comics is real and you shouldn’t question them, there are two other explanations. First of all, the Fantastic Four and Strange Tales issues are close enough in time that it’s not a problem. The second problem, however, can be explained by The Infinity Formula. At the end of the WWII, Fury was mortally injured by a landmine and given this concoction which retards his aging. (The only drawback is that he has to renew the doses annually or he’ll rapidly turn to dust and brittle bones.)
Although SHIELD has spawned many efficient and talented agents, none have ever surpassed Fury; with his background in the military, OSS, CIA, and numerous other agencies, he was later raised to Directorate status, given command over all of their operations.
Recommended: S.H.I.E.L.D Law Enforcement Sticker 4" x 4"