As the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for decades, there is no master spy greater than Nick Fury. The seasoned intelligence operative holds multitudes of Marvel Universe secrets as he defends it from all kinds of strange and fantastical threats. However, the 2004 comic book crossover event Secret War had one ghost from Fury’s past not only come back to haunt him, but definitively oust him from leading S.H.I.E.L.D.
Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabriele Dell’Otto, the five-issue Secret War miniseries revealed that Victor Von Doom had been replaced by Lucia Von Bardas as the new Prime Minister of Latveria during a period when the former was trapped in Hell. Despite presenting a facade that she would be a much more peaceful leader than Doctor Doom and welcoming of the outside world, Fury learned Von Bardas was secretly financing upgrades to supervillains across the Marvel Universe to further her own agenda in the United States. After being denied direct intervention by the president due to the American government’s public sponsorship of the Von Bardas administration, Fury decides to covertly take things into his own hands.
Fury quietly enlists Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Black Widow, Daredevil, Luke Cage and new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit Daisy Johnson — in her debut appearance — to infiltrate Latveria and overthrow the Von Bardas administration. To avoid complicity and keep the operation confidential, Fury has his recruits mindwiped, with only Black Widow and Daisy remembering what occurred.
This plan ultimately backfires a year later when Lucia Von Bardas resurfaces, revealed to have been converted into a cyborg after barely surviving the previous attack by the superheroes on her country.
The vengeful Von Bardas launches a devastating attack on New York City as a reprisal for her attempted ousting, leading her own high-powered army and planning to destroy the city with a massive bomb. As Daisy defuses the bomb, the heroes narrowly defeat Von Bardas and her forces, though Luke Cage is rendered comatose after enduring grievous injuries. In the aftermath of the battle, Captain America leads the assembled heroes to confront Fury and learn what exactly had incited such a vicious attack on NYC. Learning his mind had been tampered with once again, Wolverine briefly enters a berserk state and attacks Fury, only to discover the heroes have been talking to a Life Model Decoy the whole time.
With his private, unauthorized war on Latveria now publicly exposed, with explosive consequences for Manhattan, Nick Fury is disgraced and becomes a fugitive of international law for carrying out the unlawful coup of a foreign head of state. Disavowed by S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury continues to operate from the shadows pursuing his own agenda, while Maria Hill replaces him as the latest S.H.I.E.L.D. Director, carrying out a much more combative, distrustful relationship with the superheroes who partnered with Fury.
After decades as the top operative and director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury had his professional affiliation with the intelligence agency severed permanently by Secret War. Fury has certainly followed his own agenda for years, but the brazen, unsanctioned incursion with a foreign government — against direct presidential orders — was one gamble that catastrophically backfired on the longtime secret agent, especially as it grew to impact many of the Marvel Universe’s most iconic superheroes. Fury eventually atoned for his actions during Secret Invasion, but his actions during Secret War tainted his legacy for years and drove him into the shadows for the rest of his days.
The 2004 Marvel Comics crossover event Secret War saw Nick Fury ousted from S.H.I.E.L.D. Here's how.