Countdown to Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Day 13: Valentina Allegra De Fontaine

Comic Books GeekMom
Valentina Allegra de Fontaine by Jim Steranko © Marvel Comics

In celebration of the upcoming premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on September 24, this geek girl’s dream of a television show, GeekMom is counting down the days until the premiere on September 24. To check out previous entries, click on the show’s tag.

Up today, the woman who literally threw Nick Fury for a loop at their first meeting: La Contessa Valentina (“Val”) Allegra De Fontaine.

Val was added to the S.H.I.E.LD. mythos by writer/artist Jim Steranko in Strange Tales #159 in 1967. She struck me as in the tradition of the unflappable, slightly imperious but very capable spies like Emma Peel. I asked Jim Steranko on Twitter about his inspirations for the character and he said both Val and Madame Hydra were based on former girlfriends. All I can say is he must have had some very interesting girlfriends.

Steranko introduced Val in a training sequence that ended when she flipped Fury. She had a supporting, almost co-starring role, in much of Steranko’s run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was featured in the famous seduction sequence with Fury that was apparently too hot for Marvel back then, as they redrew a telephone off the hook to put the receiver back on the base. The sequence as it appeared:

From Jim Steranko's Nick  Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The photo of the gun was also a replacement for a panel of Fury and Val embracing.

Fun facts about Val:

  • She’s Italian and was once a member of the European jet set.
  • Her parents were killed, supposedly aiding some resistance movement. I’d guess it was originally supposed to be work against the Nazis that got her parents killed, but Marvel works on a sliding time scale. As the Contessa remained young, they didn’t want to root her in World War II, as Fury was, so her parents’ deaths were left unclear.
  • She was the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Femme Force, a group that also included Sharon Carter. (At the time the Femme Force was organized, such a female team would have been unusual.)
  • She was impersonated by a Skrull but Fury killed the imposter.
  • Val was played by Lisa Rinna in the Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. movie starring David Hasselhoff.

Chances of the Contessa appearing in the show? It seems very possible given the character’s history with Fury. Whether she’d appear as Fury’s contemporary with her past intact as his lover or as a younger agent is a bigger question. I would love to see Contessa Valentina Allegra De Fontaine played by Lucy Lawless.

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