Valentina Allegra de Fontaine

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Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine
Shield Countess.jpg
Page from Strange Tales #168 (May 1968)
Art by Jim Steranko & Joe Sinnott
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Strange Tales #159 (Aug 1967)
Created by Jim Steranko
In-story information
Alter ego Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine
Team affiliations Leviathan
HYDRA
S.H.I.E.L.D.
Notable aliases Madame Hydra
Abilities Skilled markswoman

La Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine[1] is a fictional, comic book espionage agent in the Marvel Comics universe. Created by writer-artist Jim Steranko, she first appeared in the "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." feature in Strange Tales #159 (Aug 1967).

Publication history[edit]

The Contessa appeared prominently throughout creator Jim Steranko's run of the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. feature that ran through Strange Tales #168 (May 1968) and in the same-name comic-book series that began the following month.

An agent who literally threw S.H.I.E.L.D. chief Nick Fury for a loop upon their initial meeting, she quickly became his love interest, and was featured in a silent, one-page seduction sequence in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 that famously had two panels changed, at the behest of the Comics Code Authority. In the third-to-last panel, de facto Marvel art director John Romita, Sr. redrew a telephone that had been taken off the hook for privacy, placing the receiver back in the cradle; in the last panel, an image was removed and replaced with a closeup of an item from earlier in the page — a phallic long-barreled gun in a holster:

So one panel had the stereo in Fury's apartment to show there was music playing, cigarettes in the ash tray in one, there was a sequence of intercut shots where she moved closer to him, much more intimately, there was a kiss, there was a rose, and then there was one panel with the telephone off the hook, which the comic book code [sic; "Comics Code"] made him put back on. ... [T]he last panel on that page had Nick and his old lady kneeling, with their arms around each other, and that was entirely too much for the Code, so the panel was replaced with a picture of a gun its holster.[2]

The story was reprinted as published in Nick Fury Special Edition #1 (Dec. 1983). When reprinted again, in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Who Is Scorpio? (Marvel Enterprises, 2001; ISBN 978-0-7851-0766-8), however, Steranko's original final panel was reinserted. In a black-and-white long shot with screentone shading, the couple is beginning to embrace, with Fury standing and the Contessa on one knee, getting up.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine was a member of the European jet set and a citizen of Italy. After both her parents were killed for aiding some unspecified resistance movement, the Contessa found her life meaningless. Desiring to carry on in their places so their deaths would not be in vain, she eventually was contacted by the international espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and entered a training program to become an agent.[3]

She first encountered its executive director, Nick Fury, aboard S.H.I.E.L.D.'s airborne headquarters, the Helicarrier, toward the end of her training, impressing Fury by tossing him head-over-heels with a judo throw after his uttering an untoward remark about female agents.[volume & issue needed] The two eventually became lovers,[volume & issue needed] and their relationship continued for many years.

As a result of the Contessa's remarkable talents and skills in many areas, she quickly became a leading member of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was also at one point appointed as the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Femme Force.[volume & issue needed]

Secret Invasion[edit]

It is revealed that shortly after the Secret War, a Skrull agent posed as Contessa de la Fontaine in order to spy on Nick Fury and learn as many secrets as possible. However, Fury grew suspicious and killed the agent, who then reverted to her true shape, thus revealing the Invasion to Fury.[4]

After the death of Captain America, a second impostor posing as the Contessa approached Dum Dum Dugan with the intent of learning the location of Fury, whom the Skrulls are seeking. After he reveals he doesn't know, the impostor stabs Dugan with claws resembling those of the X-Man, Wolverine. After Dugan's body is thrown into the ocean, the impostor takes his place.[volume & issue needed]

Secret Warriors[edit]

Both Dugan and the Contessa are later shown alive and healthy. They are freed from captivity along with the other humans kidnapped and replaced by Skrulls.[5]

In the premiere of the new 'Secret Warriors' series, where Nick Fury is fighting back against Norman Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R., it is shown HYDRA has always controlled S.H.I.E.L.D., right from the start.[6] Fontaine becomes the new Madame Hydra[7] and is revealed to have been a Russian mole recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. She is working for the Russian espionage group called 'Leviathan'. This betrayal is known to Fury, who is working on bringing down HYDRA and Leviathan. Fontaine kills the current Madame Hydra, who is revived in a new form. After her defeat, Nick Fury tries to rescue Contessa from jail.[8]

Other versions[edit]

MC2[edit]

In the alternate universe MC2 imprint, the Contessa is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who encounters Spider-Girl.[volume & issue needed]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Allegra de Fontaine is the chairman of the OXE Group, currently the largest holding company in the World. She's part of the secret Kratos Club, a group of industrial multimillionaires, whose goal is to use their influence to ensure that the right things get done, no matter what.[9]

Earth X[edit]

In recent history living up to Earth X, she was still an active member of SHIELD when Norman Osborn manages to take control of the United States of America. When Nick Fury refused to deal with Osborn, Osborn had created the parasitic Hydra creatures from information he gained from the Bloodstone files. The Hydra were sent to attack and take down SHIELD's helicarrier, causing it to crash. A lot of SHIELD agents, Contessa among them, were transformed into hosts bodies for the Hydra organism.[volume & issue needed]

Like all people infected with the Hydra, Contessa was killed and her body usurped by the Hydra parasite that clings to the chest of her body. While her soul was transported to the Realm of the Dead where it would relive moments of her history, her physical body became a member of the Hydra group led by the "Madam Hydra" which controlled the body of She-Hulk.[volume & issue needed]

Most Hydra's ended up in New York, where they would be seemingly killed by the Skull's invading army, however the group would survive and return to a secret base. There, the Hydra would be banished to Limbo by Captain America, who armed with Rom's blaster.[volume & issue needed]

Contessa's soul would be inducted in Mar-Vel's army of the dead in a final battle against Death, Thanos and Mephisto. Later she would be granted a place in Mar-Vel's Paradise, following this her current whereabouts are unknown.[10][11]

Mutant X[edit]

In Mutant X, the Contessa is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who fought Havok and the Six on Liberty Island when S.H.I.E.L.D. planned to release the Legacy Virus which would kill all super-powered life.[12]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

See also[edit]

Quotes[edit]

Steven Ringgenberg: "Steeped in cinematic techniques picked up from that medium's masters, Jim [Steranko] synthesized a style he christened 'Zap Art' — an approach different from anything being done in mainstream comics, though it did include one standard attraction: lots of females in skintight, sexy costumes. Countess Valentina (Val) Allegro De Fontaine (sic) made her debut in Strange Tales #159 (Aug. 1967) by flooring Nick Fury during a training session, proving that she could take care of herself! She looked like a character who had just stepped out of a James Bond poster".[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ As spelled officially by Marvel Comics on its S.H.I.E.L.D. page, although misspelled with a male name and spelled with different Italian article as "Valentina Allegro de Fontaine" in her name's first two mentions, in Strange Tales #159, "Spy School", p.10, panel 6, and Strange Tales #162, "So Evil, the Night", p.3, panel 6.
  2. ^ Green, Robin (September 16, 1971). "Face Front! Clap Your Hands, You're on the Winning Team!". Rolling Stone (via fan site Green Skin's Grab-Bag) (91). Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  3. ^ Strange Tales #162, "So Evil, the Night p.3, panel 6
  4. ^ The Mighty Avengers #12
  5. ^ Secret Invasion #8
  6. ^ Secret Warriors #1 (2010)
  7. ^ Secret Warriors #6 (2010)
  8. ^ Secret Warriors #11-28 (2011)
  9. ^ Ultimate Fallout #3
  10. ^ Earth X #1 1/2
  11. ^ Universe X #11
  12. ^ Mutant X #1
  13. ^ Ringgenberg, Steven (Spring 1989). "A Life Long Love Affair With The Pop Culture Pin Up!". Betty Pages (via ReoCities.com) (4). Archived from the original on October 25, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2011. . Archive includes linked images not on Reocities.com.

External links[edit]