WHAT IS S.H.I.E.L.D?
S.H.I.E.L.D. is an espionage and law-enforcement agency in the Marvel Comics Universe. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Strange Tales #135 (Aug. 1965), it often deals with paranormal and superhuman threats.
- The acronym originally stood for Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division. It was changed in 1991 to Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate.
- Within the various films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as multiple animated and live-action television series, the acronym stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division
- S.H.I.E.L.D. started off as a top secret international organization (Fury was unaware of them when he was in the CIA) with a Supreme International Council made up of top officials and minds from across the world, including Tony Stark. Its first director was Rick Stoner, former head of the CIA, but he was quickly assassinated by Hydra, and the President of the United States recommended Nick Fury take the role. Later on, the ultimate authority of S.H.I.E.L.D. is revealed to be a cabal of 12 mysterious men and women who give Fury his orders and operational structure, leaving Fury to manage the actual implementation of these orders and stratagems.
(There are a whole lot more these are just the most common)
Bases of Operation
Although the various Helicarriers built over the years have long been considered S.H.I.E.L.D.'s primary mobile home base, the Directorate also maintains a number of land bases throughout the world, most notably "S.H.I.E.L.D. Central" in New York City. While some of these bases are publicly accessible on a limited basis, most are not publicly disclosed for reasons of planetary security. There are several fully equipped S.H.I.E.L.D. fall-out shelters scattered around the world, with twenty-eight of these being known only to Nick Fury. During the events of Civil War, Nick Fury was hiding in an American-based shelter. He also divulged the location of one to Captain America, so the Resistance to the Superhuman Registration Act could use it as a safe house.
H.A.M.M.E.R. replaces S.H.I.E.L.D. after it is dissolved when Norman Osborn is appointed the new head following the conclusion of the Skrull attack. It was not established what H.A.M.M.E.R. stands for; in Dark Avengers #1, Osborn told Victoria Hand, the new Deputy Director, that it does stand for something, and when she asked what it stands for, he told her, "Get to work on it for me. That is one of the many things on your 'To Do' list". Former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and members of Hydra are hired as agents. H.A.M.M.E.R. promotes Osborn's personal team of Avengers, a group composed mostly of former Thunderbolts members and former members of the Mighty Avengers. Osborn also eliminates all of Tony Stark's influence on S.H.I.E.L.D., including the Cape-Killer Armor and the Red and Gold Helicarrier. He also replaces all agents loyal to Nick Fury, Captain America, or Iron Man with agents loyal to himself. Also, in the Captain America: Reborn Prelude, when Sin, who is captured by H.A.M.M.E.R, asks what it stands for, the agent present says that it's classified and she does not have security clearance.
S.T.R.I.K.E.S.T.R.I.K.E. (Special Tactical Response for International Key Emergencies) was a British agency, unrelated to but run along similar lines to S.H.I.E.L.D. Disbanded after being infiltrated and taken over by a criminal organization, one of its members was the future X-Man Psylocke. It was introduced in Marvel UK's Captain Britain #17 (Feb. 2, 1977).
EuroM.I.N.D. and S.H.A.P.E.EuroM.I.N.D. (European Monitoring Investigation and Enforcement Division) is a European subdivision of S.H.I.E.L.D. that later fell under the control of the S.H.A.P.E. (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) council. EuroM.I.N.D.'s director is François Borillon. Its agents include the science reconnaissance group Eurolab and the combat specialist Task Force group, who both then merged into one group known as Euroforce.
S.W.O.R.D.S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), works with S.H.I.E.L.D. but specializes in extraterrestrial threats. It is first introduced in Astonishing X-Men (vol. 3) #6 (Dec. 2004), written by Joss Whedon. Dialogue in the stories depicting both organizations has been ambiguous on whether S.W.O.R.D. is a branch of S.H.I.E.L.D. or a sister agency.
Agent Abigail Brand, the S.W.O.R.D. agent the X-Men encountered, has green hair, a trait typical of agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s archenemy, Hydra. This unusual characteristic did not go unremarked; Wolverine referred to her as "Hydra-Hair" in Astonishing X-Men (vol. 3) #6.
A similar group as S.W.O.R.D., likewise affiliated with the U.N., is Starcore, which has worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. on several projects of joint interest, including establishing and maintaining a crewed facility on Earth's Moon.
W.A.N.D.W.A.N.D. stands for Wizardry, Alchemy and Necromancy Department, and is a division of S.H.I.E.L.D which specializes in matters relating to magic. It is directed by Pandora Peters. First appearing in Thunderbolts Annual Vol.2 (2014), in which the Thunderbolts are recruited to assassinate Doctor Strange, who is eventually revealed as a faerie impostor called King Oberoth M'gozz.