Strange Tales #149: "The End of A.I.M.!"

Strange Tales #149
"The End of A.I.M.!"
October, 1966

Edited By: STAN LEE
Layouts By: JACK KIRBY
Script By: Denny O'Neil
Art By: Ogden Whitney
Lettering By: Artie Simek
Ammunition By The Forbush Pyrotechnic Co.

Advanced Idea Mechanics has entered the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters
itself and the A.I.M. agents have captured a life model decoy of the
SHIELD director himself.

Not only will their fellow agents be able to analyze the workings of the
L.M.D., but with it, A.I.M. will be able to penetrate any S.H.I.E.L.D.
installation in the world.  The destruction of the spy agency will occur
within a matter of mere days.  Even as they make their escape, the
Advanced Idea Mechanics cannot believe their good fortune in breaching
security, but they are unaware that another section of S.H.I.E.L.D. have
been watching their every move.  Dum-Dum Dugan and his squad of
S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are eager to attack, but Dugan tells them that
they're waiting for the signal from Nick Fury himself.  They had last
seen their director entering with Dum-Dum, but he hasn't been seen since

Plan Blue is placed into operation, and soon, Dugan is at the wheel of a
magnetically-powered SHIELD craft.  As the agents reminisce about past
skirmishes, Dum-Dum tells them to clam up.  The agents of A.I.M. have
made their way to a hidden airfield, when the LMD begins to rise from its
receptacle.  The Advanced Idea Mechanics were unaware that they had been
lugging the real director of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Fury reaches behind his back
for the rocket blaster, and since the agents of A.I.M. had no idea that
they were dealing with the real deal, they are caught off-guard.

KAROOM!  The nitrogen projectile hits the vehicle's fuel tank and A.I.M.
sees that one of its aircraft is missing.  VOOMMM!  As the other tanks
explode, Nick uses a capsule as some makeshift shelter.  An eager A.I.M.
agent takes aim at the S.H.I.E.L.D. director... PLAKETA, but his shot
goes wild when Fury sends the capsule against him.  A section of the
asphalt melts, as the magnetically-powered craft makes its appearance.
Dum-Dum Dugan and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents race to their leader's side.

The news aboard the Heli-Carrier is that Nick Fury had jumped from the
craft, and now several helicopters are in search pattern M.  Those who
had sought to judge the S.H.I.E.L.D. director were puzzled by his
actions, but only Jasper Sitwell knows about Nick's hidden parachute, and
he will not mention it until Count Royale has been exposed as a traitor.
Figuring that his mission has been accomplished, the Count takes his
leave of the war room, but Sitwell uses a respiratory-powered projectile
hurler to place a tiny transmitter on the fleeing agent.  Royale heads
for his plane and eagerly awaits the day that A.I.M. will take over the

Jasper Sitwell is now free to reveal Nick Fury's ruse to the assembly and
tell them that the S.H.I.E.L.D. director is in charge of a counterattack
against A.I.M.  In twenty minutes, Nick will address the assembly from
the communications room.  The young agent heads off in pursuit of Count
Royale.  In the woods near S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ground headquarters, two
Advanced Idea Mechanics get ready to attack a lone car, but pause when
they see Number Nine of the Secret Empire behind the wheel. Since the
Secret Empire and A.I.M. are both branches of THEM, the two trust the
crimson-hooded stranger.

The two A.I.M. agents pile into the backseat, with the hooded driver
criticizing their attire, and their thought to blend in with a crowd.
Number Nine pulls a lever on the dash, causing a plexiglass window to
catch the two agents off-guard.  With the bullet-proof glass and locked
doors, they are soon overcome by the gas.  With the two Advanced Idea
Mechanics out of commission, "Number Nine" removes his hood, and Gabe
Jones smiles at his own success.

As the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents take the A.I.M. agents into custody, Nick gets
ready for his broadcast to the assembled brass aboard the Heli-Carrier.
Even the communications officers are impressed by their director's
ability to recover between battles.  With the heads of Advanced Idea
Mechanics on the loose, S.H.I.E.L.D. will continue the chase for them.
The members of the assembly are impressed by the S.H.I.E.L.D. director's

In a wooded mountain area, Jasper Sitwell pilots the Noiseless Air
Personnel Vehicle, as he shadows Count Royale's limousine.  The young
agent watches as a boulder opens, revealing a cavern for the limo to
enter.  With thick rock walls to hide it, Advanced Idea Mechanics have
picked an ideal place to hide from S.H.I.E.L.D.  As Sitwell radios for a
combat unit, he hears a strange sound coming from the cavern.
EEEEEEEEEEBA-VOOM  The entire mountainside is caught in an explosion of
flames.  Since his wrist indicator finds no traces of radiation, Jasper
knows that this must have been detonated by regular explosives.  The
S.H.I.E.L.D. director calls for several scientists from Stark Industries
to investigate the ruins.  As Dugan relaxes and figures that A.I.M is no
longer a threat, his fellow Howler is not so sure. 

THUDD!  Both Nick and Dugan are caught off-guard by Gabe Jones's
entrance.  All three are glad to see one another, but Gabe still has to
give his report.  Fifteen minutes later, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. has
learned how Mr. Jones has shut down the Secret Empire, and discusses a
possible connection between them and A.I.M.  Both arms must belong to the
same body.  At the mention of arms, Gabe Jones recalls the slogan of
Hydra.  At the S.H.I.E.L.D. Museum, armed guards activate the electronic
metabolism scanner, as Nick, Dum-Dum, and Gabe approach the vault door.

Gabe Jones reviews the organization charts of Hydra, Dugan inspects the
confiscated Hydra weapons, and Fury reads the written statements made
from captured Hydra agents.  After some reading, Nick realizes that Hydra
has been restructuring itself, and Gabe figures that this must include
both groups.  The written statement catches fire, with an energy ray
firing through a wall.  Since his shirt is made of explosive threads,
Nick Fury must remove it before it explodes.

Dum-Dum tries to open the door, but the lock is jammed.  Gabe points
towards the ventilator shaft, where Nick has about ten seconds to dispose
of his shirt.  BA-WHOOOM!  The walls shield them from the explosion, but
now the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are aware of Hydra's return.  Only they would
know of the high explosive clothes that Nick Fury wears.  Hydra has got
S.H.I.E.L.D. in its sights... but Nick has to find them before they can
launch their next move.

On the cover of Strange Tales #149, it's the end of A.I.M., with Nick
Fury taking on five Advanced Idea Mechanics alone, while Dugan and the
armed S.H.I.E.L.D. agents await orders in their flying saucer.

Dugan's squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. are wearing uniforms and helmets resembling
a 1940's football team.

When Nick rises from the receptacle and reaches for the rocket blaster, I
have to wonder.  Was his hand reaching behind him, or was Fury pulling a
rabbit out of his hat?  (Holy Boxers or Briefs, Batman!)

Nothing says Silver Age Marvel like the lettering of Artie Simek.  From
the title blurb, to the sound effects, and catchy captions, this is one
fun read.

Count Royale bears a slight resemblance to J. Jonah Jameson, especially
with the green hat, and cigarette lighter.

For Jasper Sitwell, even a lowly pea-shooter can become an effective
weapon for S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Secret Empire is reminiscent of a Republic Serial, with masked
villains, and secret organizations.

The two Advanced Idea Mechanics learn never to accept a ride from a

Gabe Jones pulls off a clever play and the character truly shines in this

The former bugler of the Howlers took down the Secret Empire in Tales To
Astonish #83.

Captain America came up against Them in Tales of Suspense #78.

If Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. had been a live-action series in the
1960's, I would have loved to have seen a cast consisting of: Robert Culp
as Nick Fury, Bill Cosby as Gabe Jones, Wally Cox as Jasper Sitwell, and
Alan Hale Jr. as Dum-Dum Dugan.

Steve Chung
"The Review of A.I.M.!"