The original S.H.I.E.L.D. director, code-named Fallen Angel, was believed to have been killed by agents of Hydra. In fact, he was abandoned by S.H.I.E.L.D. after Hydra kidnapped him.

Nicholas Fury set about tracking the Fallen Angel, but as the situation was politically volatile, Fury diverted attention from his investigation by staging his own death. His search led him to the "Backslide", a supposedly abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. project which created a portal from a fabricated Cosmic Cube.

Ultimately, the Fallen Angel hoped Fury might use the portal to go back in time, prevent S.H.I.E.L.D. from being formed, and thus gain revenge for his abandonment. Fury disagreed and he and the Fallen Angel struggled. They both ended up travelling through the portal, which did not lead back into time, it merely created a reality based on the memories of war from the two soldiers. Fallen Angel took his own life and Fury was left, trapped, fighting a stalemate war for months.

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