Check out a preview of Marvel's massive S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th anniversary comic

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D., the iconic Marvel Comics spy agency that pretty much everyone knows about now thanks to its appearance on the big screen and on two seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Thanks to the success of the TV show, Marvel's added a S.H.I.E.L.D. comic, featuring the characters from the series interacting with the entire Marvel universe (something they don't get to do much of on the small screen) to its publishing slate, and next month the publisher is turning the comic's ninth issue into a super-sized 50th birthday bash featuring the return of Marvel legend Jack "King" Kirby.

The first of the issue's three stories, by writer Mark Waid and artist Lee Ferguson, will answer what's billed as one of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s oldest questions -- "Who is the Man Called D.E.A.T.H.?" -- but what makes it particularly exciting is the inclusion of previously unpublished S.H.I.E.L.D. art by the great Jack Kirby, inked by Nick Fury legend Jim Steranko. From there, the issue will move into another exciting development that will launch yet another new Marvel series this fall. Writer Al Ewing and artist Stefano Caselli tell a story that will launch the new Howling Commandos and bring back Dum Dum Dugan. As far as we knew after the Original Sin event, Dugan was dead, but death is far from permanent in Marvel Comics, and in this issue Dugan's back to assemble a new, very supernatural-looking Commando team. Then, to top it all off, the issue will reprint the very first S.H.I.E.L.D. story by the legendary team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The issue sounds like it'll be a nice bridge between old and new S.H.I.E.L.D., but for me the most exciting thing is the return of Dum Dum. He's so much fun under the right circumstances, and from the looks of one of the variant covers below he's about to team up with the likes of Man-Thing. I don't know about you, but that's certainly enough to hook me.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #9 arrives Aug. 26. Check out a preview, with variant covers, below.

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