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Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine is an Italian espionage spy who was a member of the European jet set. The death of her parents led her to join S.H.I.E.L.D., where she entered and became a field agent. During this time she met her then lover, Nick Fury, who was impressed by her ability to even throw him head-over-heels with a judo move. With her skill progressing through time, she became a leader in S.H.I.E.L.D and was appointed leader of their Femme Force.
The Contessa was created by Jim Steranko and first appeared in Strange Tales #159 in August 1967.
Major Story Arcs
Though she hadn't been seen in quite some time, The Contessa makes an appearance in the Skrull Invasion arc. However, this person is actually a Skrull copy sent to spy on Nick Fury and learn as many secrets as possible. The Skrull impostor is soon killed by Fury due to his suspicion. Another Skrull poses as her and approaches Dum Dum Dugan in order to learn his location. With Dugan unaware of the truth, the Skrull stabs him with claws that resemble the X-Man Wolverine. After the Invasion the real Contessa is freed from captivity along with others kidnapped by the Skrulls.
During the period when National Security is under the control of Norman Osborn (the Dark Reign), Fury asks the Contessa to dinner and asks to settle down with her. Her answers to him are cryptic and non-committal. She hints that she is operating independently now. After Fury raids a H.A.M.M.E.R. base that holds decommissioned Helicarriers, she calls Nick by phone, and is shown to be wearing the robes of the new Madame Hydra, opening a box stolen from the Japanese containing an alien power source.
After the mysterious group Leviathan attacks a HYDRA construction base and captures Viper, Contessa goes to Leviathan's headquarters, Long Winter, where she gives the box to their leader, Magadan, before murdering Viper. Her past before she joined S.H.I.E.L.D. is revealed. After the death of her parents, she was actually recruited by the Russians shortly before Dum Dum Dugan asked her to join SHIELD. She was invited to take the place of her parents who had also been working as agents for the Soviets.
In Other Media
The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
Contessa makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Winter Soldier" as part of a flashback sequence. She is apparently killed after being shot by the title character and caught up in the same explosion that blinded Nick Fury in one eye.