Nick Fury is a world-class spy in the Marvel Universe and fans learn he has a way of reversing brainwashing in Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1.
Spoilers ahead for Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1!
Brainwashing, such as the type done on the Winter Soldier, is a regular occurrence in comics and Nick Fury has a way to reverse it. In part six of “Infinite Fury,” appearing as a backup feature in Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1, readers learn Nick Fury has been compromised by Nighthawk. He has a way out, however, proving why he is one of Marvel’s best spymasters. The issue is on sale now in print and digital.
The “Infinite Fury” storyline has been running in the back of this year’s Marvel annuals, concurrently with the “Infinite Destinies” main stories. Nighthawk, seeking a way to restore the world he and the Squadron Supreme of America lost at the conclusion of Heroes Reborn, is searching for the Infinity Stones. Nighthawk kidnaps Nick Fury, and in part six, written by Jed MacKay, with art by Juan Ferreyra and letters by Joe Caramagna, readers see that Nighthawk got to Fury somehow—but also learn that Nighthawk may have made a critical error, as Nick Fury has a failsafe in case he is brainwashed.
Fury is seen speeding through the streets of New York City with Nighthawk following. Fury reminisces over the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how aimless he felt afterward. Nick says he was a man seeking direction—one that Nighthawk has now provided. Fury has just broken into Project Pegasus to steal a sliver of the Cosmic Cube. Nighthawk needs it to track down the Stone Bearers (the subjects of the “Infinite Destinies”) and use them to bring back the world of Heroes Reborn. Fury returns to Nighthawk’s lair and readers see Nighthawk has made Fury his “sidekick.” As Nick Fury looks into the mirror, he suddenly tenses up and says: “Intervention Trigger: Countdown.” Fury then begins spouting seemingly random words, and he is not sure why. As he begins to blackout, readers learn a mental shutdown has been initiated, and the apparent trigger was a tattoo of Fury’s mom, which readers see in the mirror.
Nick Fury is a world-class spymaster, just like his dad. That he was able to be so easily brainwashed by Nighthawk is odd—why would Fury break so quickly? Readers do not learn what Nighthawk did to Fury, but it can be surmised it was not pleasant. Yet given Fury’s status and reputation, it would make sense he would have some sort of backup plan in case he was ever compromised. The use of seemingly random words harkens back to the activation words used for the Winter Soldier. One possibility is that Nick Fury is playing a game with Nighthawk: he let himself be captured and he let himself be brainwashed, all in hopes of learning of Nighthawk’s plan. Nick Fury knew about the Intervention Trigger and knew it would work, so there was no risk in becoming Nighthawk’s servant forever. If this is the case, it reinforces why Fury is one of the top spies in the Marvel Universe.
Nighthawk may have committed a serious error in judgment when he tried to brainwash Nick Fury, as readers learn that he has a way of reversing what Nighthawk did to him, and it takes a page out of the Winter Soldier’s playbook.
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