Wolverine #20-31 "Enemy of the State" & "Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." (2004-2005)
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Randy Gentile

Wolverine is killed and resurrected as a brainwashed assassin for the triumvirate of Hydra, the Hand and the mutants known as the Dawn of the White Hand. Wolverine goes on a berserker killing spree that leaves Elektra, Northstar, and scores of S.H.I.E.L.D. & Hydra agents as victims to his rage.

Eventually Wolverine is put down, but attempts to rehabilitate him aboard the helicarrier are cut short as Hydra launches an all-out assault on S.H.I.E.L.D., downing the helicarrier and nearly killing Nick Fury. Wolverine comes to his senses and blazes a trail of vengeance through the ranks of Hydra, and the Hand, finally setting his sights on mastermind behind the whole plot, the mysterious Gorgon. With Nick Fury hospitalized, Wolverine and S.H.I.E.L.D. unleash a war on Hydra and Wolverine embarks on a bloody revenge.

  • Continuity Notes
  • Nick Fury appears in issues #20-27, 29-31
  • Appearances by Baron Von Strucker (deposed as Supreme Hydra).
  • First appearance of Baroness Elsbeth Von Strucker, previously unmentioned third wife of the Baron. Its unclear if she is the mother of either Werner, Andrea, or Andres Von Strucker.
  • The Baroness' role in financing Hydra (since 1957) is vague with respect to previous continuity regarding the origins of the organization.
  • Cover appearances by Fury on both covers to #27; the Greg Land cover a homage to Steranko's classic Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4.
  • The helicarrier is identified as Black Hawk through its crash in #27. Only the specialized carrier Behemoth IV had previously borne a name in the Godzilla series. A new helicarrier is 16 months away from construction at story's end.
  • Dum Dum is acting commander following Fury's injuries.
  • Fury's injuries include a pole through his ribs, leading to his recovering with, in his words, "new teeth and lungs"
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. had three Sentinels recovered from Russia in storage, reprogrammed to obey orders through voice commands. All three were lost.
  • Reprinted in Wolverine: Enemy of the State and Wolverine: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. TPBs

An all out S.H.I.E.L.D. versus Hydra war is the backdrop for a bloody romp for two of Marvel's most dangerous warriors. Millar crafts a pretty good plot which seems an interesting counterpoint to the subdued and clandestine take on S.H.I.E.L.D. seen in Bendis' Secret War miniseries. Shades of the 90's S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline, with Hydra's assault on S.H.I.E.L.D. Central and the helicarrier, but without so much impact as no supporting S.H.I.E.L.D. players are on hand. Wherein those classic issues featured Fury, front and center with a strong supporting cast around him, this story shortchanges the impact on the agency and (understandably) centers the focus on Wolverine. The final issues of the arc deliver rapid-action and large scale action for S.H.I.E.L.D. unseen in some years. The titanic struggle rival those seen in the classic Strange Tales with larger then life props like the Sentinels and the helicarrier.

Considering the new addition to Von Strucker's history with a previously unmentioned wife, its surprising that it would be to the character's detriment. His appearance in the crossover in Thunderbolts #4 aside, Von Strucker is all but emasculated by Millar's storyline. Portrayed as a near impotent aging dandy whose wife cheats on him in plain sight, its a mystery to me why a villain with such a rich history would be treated this way. Its very hard to reconcile the Baron, who's single-minded vendetta against Fury fueled those classic Strange Tales, the best issues of S.H.I.E.L.D. V2 and highlights of Sgt Fury & His Howling Commandos would be the same Von Strucker who would willfully succumb to a Hydra execution by the Gorgon. Or perhaps that was the Baron's plan all along?

Ironically Nick Fury also seems sidelined for most of the good action, even Dum Dum is moved to mention how wrong it feels to be without Fury on the final assault. Fury lying in bed for the final two issues, waiting for sure death to come to him in moments, one forgives his brief turn toward MAX territory with his final words. However I'd like to think Fury had a shotgun hidden somewhere just in case Wolverine didn't make it in just the nick of time.

This story lacks any real emotional weight and probably didn't need to be dragged over so many issues, but its still a kick-ass story overall and surely ranks as one of the better S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra wars in recent memory.