By Matt D. Wilson
This weekend, ABC announced that “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will, in fact, debut as a full series this fall, and released the following teaser video!
Though many of the show’s characters appear to be new to the world of Marvel Universe espionage, we here at MTV Geek decided it was a good time to look back on some of the best agents the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate has had employed over the years.
(Note: This list does not include S.H.I.E.L.D. members who mainly make their living as costumed superheroes, so no Black Widow or Jessica Drew here. Otherwise this list would be nothing by them.)
10. G.W. Bridge
Though he was S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director for a hot minute in the mid-to-late 1990s, Bridge is probably best known for his interactions with two gun-happy guys: Cable, who Bridge sought to bring down, but who he also worked with quite often; and The Punisher, who Bridge sought to bring down, but who he also worked with quite often. Bridge’s biggest accomplishment of late was probably helping Frank Castle wipe out The Hate Monger.
9. Jasper Sitwell
Sitwell was the original Phil Coulson. In some of the earlier issues of Iron Man, Sitwell served as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s liaison to Stark Industries, where he got shot by the Spymaster and romanced Madame Masque (not at the same time). Recently, he helped coordinate Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier’s activities and worked with Dum Dum Dugan to create a counter-intelligence organization, a brand new Howling Commandos, to fight Norman Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R., the agency Osborn created when he was named director of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the Secret Invasion event.
8. Daisy Johnson
Though it’s very hard, by appearance, to get Johnson mixed up with similarly short-haired brunette Maria Hill, Johnson has a personality and abilities all her own, which became most apparent during Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli’s Secret Warriors series in 2009. Johnson served as the main recruiter for the team and makes some real, emotional connections with the members, particularly the injured Yo-Yo Rodriguez. Johnson also was briefly a superhero named Quake — she can create earthquakes, so the name fits — but she’s mostly been seen as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and recently, as director.
7. Clay Quartermain
To look at him, you’d think Clay Quartermain, all blond hair and big smiles, is kind of a jerk. But in the ’80s, he was a real stand-up dude. He broke away from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Hulkbuster unit to go adventuring with the Hulk and Rick Jones, and eventually testified against The Leader. The character had something of a renaissance in the mid-2000s, appearing in two of Marvel’s best books, She-Hulk and Alias, where he was mostly depicted as a capable, good guy. He saved Jessica Jones from being recruited into Hydra, for example.
6. Abigail Brand
The green-haired Brand, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. subdivision S.W.O.R.D., played a major role in Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men series, essentially leading the assault on Breakworld and taking a near-fatal laser blast intended for Beast. When captured, she wiped out her assailants with her pyrokinetic powers. In 2009, she was the star of the five-issue S.W.O.R.D. series, Brand put that jerk Henry Peter Gyrich in his place before the series was sadly cancelled.
5. Phil Coulson
Easily the most-recognized agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. besides some guy who wears an eyepatch, Coulson was the first agent introduced into the Marvel movie universe and presumably the lead character of the new series. He hasn’t appeared all that much in comics — his first appearance was in the 2012 series Battle Scars — but he has found a spot on the roster of the new Secret Avengers team.
4. Maria Hill
Hill made something of a bad first impression in her earliest appearances, what with her being at odds with Nick Fury and trying to stop the Avengers from re-forming. She didn’t help herself all that much in Civil War, the event where she tried to have Captain America arrested and brainwashed Marvel Boy. But she made up for it later, particularly during Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca’s Iron Man run. She seemed to worry less about protocol and more about doing the right thing, such as protecting Asgard during Siege and helping Tony Stark get his memories back and stop being a jerk all the time.
3. Timothy “Dum Dum” Dugan
One of the original Howling Commandos, Dugan has held lots of positions within and outside of S.H.I.E.L.D.: internal Helicarrier security officer, Godzilla fighter, Negative-Zone beam custodian, interim director, head of mutant affairs, retiree, H.A.M.M.E.R. enemy. But let’s be real here. S.H.I.E.L.D. just wouldn’t be the same if the guy with the big red mustache and the bowler hat wasn’t at least standing around in the background.
2. Sharon Carter
A lot of people think about Carter only as Captain America’s girlfriend, but that’s severely underselling her many accomplishments. Consider this: Carter’s S.H.I.E.L.D. code name was Agent 13. That’s out of hundreds, if not thousands of agents in the organization! Carter has done lots of stuff, like fighting Nightmare and taking down white supremacist groups, but her investigation, alongside Bucky and The Falcon, of Steve Rogers’ apparent death after Civil War really showed her diligence and tenaciousness. Sure, it turned out she was the one who shot him in a fit of mind control, but she solved the case!
1. Nick Fury
What is there to say about Nick Fury that hasn’t already been said? Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. series in the late 1960s completely changed the way comics could look. He’s the quintessential S.H.I.E.L.D. director. He’s Samuel L. Jackson, and to a much lesser degree, David Hasselhoff. He has assembled Avengers teams and fought others. He’s ageless and timeless. He has appeared in the most outrageous comics Marvel has produced (the Fury MAX series by Garth Ennis) and the kid-friendliest of cartoon tie-in books. He’s so essential that the regular Marvel Universe has two of him. Nick Fury is S.H.I.E.L.D. and, in a lot of ways, he’s the Marvel U. Number one couldn’t be anyone else.