Whoah. Ennis writes Nick Fury again, but in a far darker and more mature story than anything he'd done before with this character. I'm reminded of The Boys, because Ennis is once again talking about how much of recent history has basically been stupid fuck-ups that achieved nothing except to help powerful people get rich. He goes through the West's bad wars in the second half of the 20th century and how America especially spent decades propping up idiots and monsters in the name of anti-communism. People like Nick Fury drift from war to war, ignoring the big picture until it's too late. He's a warrior. He lives for combat. Even at the start, he isn't an idealist and doesn't really care about the flag, etc. When the book ends, he's either about to commit suicide or is dangerously close to it.
Indochina. Vietnam. Colombia. Cuba. Nicaragua. Laos. Iran. Iraq. Korea. We visit them all. Fury does the jobs he's given and doesn't really care about the whys and wherefores. He knows when he's being screwed, though. "The greatest American fuck-up of all time." "The locals hate us. We make such a mess. We always choose some total prick to support."
He has a female counterpart, except that she's not a soldier and she never goes to war. Instead, she gets married. Her story is entwined with Fury's and turns out even more tragically.
Frank Castle shows up in Vietnam. He's not the Punisher yet, but he's definitely Ennis's version of the character. (Apparently there's another Vietnam-era Ennis/Parlov mini-series coming up, called Get Fury and starring both Fury and the Punisher. I'm keen to read that.) Fury also meets Barracuda in Nicaragua, which is what breaks him. "Nicaragua was the one where I had to stop lying to myself." That's as near as we get to the Marvel universe, though. Ennis is writing about the real world and shit that happened.
There's a good, honest American soldier who believes in truth and the American way. He and Fury agree to disagree. There's a walking garbage heap who for whom war is the route into politics and big bucks. "Jobs, jobs, jobs. Music to my ears".
Is this book exciting? Yes, sometimes, but that's not the point. Is it fun? Hell, no. Is it disgusting? Quite often, yes, and you can find it all in the history books. It's a Garth Ennis war story that's deconstructing wars to show why so many of them have been sordid, stupid failures. I hadn't been expecting this at all.