The concept of SHIELD was created by Retired Sergeant Nicholas J. Fury shortly after the end of World War II, as a response to the emergence of super powerful individuals and the growing threat represented by the likes of villainous organisations like HYDRA and RAVEN. Fury abandoned the idea and left the draft that he created for the agency locked away, feeling the US government wouldn’t approve the formation of such an agency. A few years later, however, a covert organisation dusted off the idea without Fury’s knowledge. His recruitment to the post of Executive Director (the agency’s second) marked his first knowledge of SHIELD’s existence.

Usually led by a seemingly young Nick Fury as Executive Director (although he reports to a twelve-member council, whose identities even he does not know), this organization often operates as much as a covert agency as a quasi-military one, initially affiliated with the United States government, though later SHIELD came under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, alongside PRIMUS.

One of SHIELD’s unique technological innovations is the LMD (Life Model Decoy) – an extremely lifelike android used to replace people in imminent danger of being killed. The LMD was the basis for two major upheavals. First, the supervillain Scorpio stole the technology and used it to create the second team of villains called Zodiac. Later, some LMDs known as the Deltites achieved sentience and infiltrated SHIELD, replacing key members, until Fury defeated them. This led to the disbanding of the original organization and its replacement by a new taskforce with the same acronym.

In the wake of a disastrous unauthorized mission in the eastern European nation of Latveria, Fury effectively resigned as Executive Director, with international warrants out for his arrest. His first successor was not one of his closer associates but a relatively unknown newcomer to the SHIELD hierarchy, Maria Hill. A transcript of a conversation between Hill and the President of the United States revealed she was chosen for the post by United Nations consensus to keep Fury loyalists out of the job and to keep relations with the superhero community to a minimum. The President also expected Hill – an American – to be loyal first to US, despite SHIELD being a UN-chartered organization.

The passage of the DOSPAs’ Superhuman Registration Act and the subsequent superhero “Civil War” created an additional political and ethical irritant between SHIELD and the superhuman community, with SHIELD tasked to lead enforcement and to take on registered superheroes as operatives.

Toward the end of the conflict, Hill concluded she had been made director with the intent that she fail at the job, and she proposes to Billionaire Inventor and Futurist Tony Stark that he assume the post himself, with her as deputy. Stark accepts the appointment as Director upon the conclusion of the superhuman civil war, and undertakes a series of initiatives, including the construction of a new gold-and-red Helicarrier in the motif of his well known Iron Man armour designs, the introduction of a daycare center in the Helicarrier, and an employee suggestion-box. While accused of treating SHIELD as a Stark Industries subsidiary, he succeeded in streamlining the organization and raising morale. SHIELD fought a wave of global superhuman terrorism and was manipulated into two international incidents that almost saw Director Stark arrested, until they revealed the ancient and powerful Mandarin to be behind it and stopped him from committing genocide with an Extremis pathogen.

In 2008, during a secret invasion by the extraterrestrial shape-shifting aliens known as Skrulls, the Helicarrier is disabled by a computer virus and left floating and disabled in the Bermuda Triangle. The Skrulls by this point have already replaced a large number of SHIELD agents, including the high-ranking Timothy “Dum-Dum” Dugan. After the invasion is repelled, the President of the United States decides to dissolve SHIELD, and has it, the Fifty State Initiative, and the Avengers replaced by the ‘Thunderbolts Initiative’, which is placed under the supervision of world saviour Norman Osborn.

Osborn uses the opportunity to transform SHIELD into a new organization called “HAMMER”, formed by loyal agents of the Thunderbolts Initiative as well as former agents of SHIELD as well as VIPER, DEMON, RAVEN, PSI and HYDRA.

After the Invasion, Nick Fury discovers that SHIELD itself had been under the control of the terrorist organization HYDRA ostensibly from its very beginning. Once more, he reorganises the organisation, and using a team of young superhumans and the surviving members of the Howling Commando (his military unit from World War II) he sets about to ensure that this incarnation of SHIELD is not corrupted, invaded, replaced or infiltrated.


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