Story: Mark Waid
Art: Carlos Pacheco
What They Say:
High-tech weapons. High-stakes missions. High-octane adventure! For the men and women of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s just another day in the field! Special Agent Phil Coulson brings together the best and the brightest, the gifted and the elite, normal people and superhumans from across the Marvel Universe on an as-needed basis to confront, combat and curtail dangers beyond the scope of any conventional peace-keeping force! One mission. Unlimited budget. Unlimited imagination. Six periods. And a helper monkey. Welcome to Level Eight. Welcome to S.H.I.E.L.D.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When it comes to the SHIELD property, I admit to being old school, having grown up on the Steranko books and the use of the characters in the 80’s and early 90’s as where my foundation came in. I was thrilled when they shifted to the movies and gained a presence there and then got spun off to a TV series of all things. That property is certainly it’s own thing – and one that I enjoy a lot – but it’s no surprise to try and maximize it a bit more by dealing with SHIELD in the comics as its own beast. We’ve had material before and it’s been infused in many books, but now we’ve got several of the characters from the show taking on a very different life here, and personality in some ways, that will make for a fun work to run in parallel to the show.
While the book is going to deal with SHIELD as a whole, it is coming down to some key members that fans will want to be drawn to. Not surprisingly, Phil Coulson is pretty much leading the pack here as he Special Ops Supreme Commander, who reports to Director Maria Hill. The first few pages alone are worth seeing as we get a Coulson here that has grown up in the Marvel Universe, spending his days from a young age learning anything and everything about heroes and villains alike. That’s served him well as he moved up and into SHIELD since he was like a database unto himself. With him now handling things in trying to bring assets to bear when needed during really big events, that knowledge goes a long way in knowing who to call in. And this book has him calling in a whole lot of people as a pretty significant event is underway.
Admittedly, the event itself is almost a bit cartoonish in a way with what’s going on as we get a large group of large Fire Demons carving up a city, causing plenty of trouble there, and when the cavalry arrives they end up dealing with some large Frost Giants that have arrived. Coulson’s situation awareness is what works the best here though as a small problem with a little known rebel leader named Abu Mussan is making threats in the middle east with a weapon that he recognizes as not belonging there, as it’s actually Heimdall’s sword that protects the Bifrost. That leads to the specialized team going there, with May, Fitz and Simmons among others working to secure that and save Heimdall. It’s a pretty good team he puts together as we get to see Black Knight and Valkyrie involved as well, which gives them a decent role as the big power players deal with the otherworldly enemies elsewhere.
As a first issue, the book gives us a lot of action, a lot of guest characters at the start in cameo form, and a look at what the first arc may be about as we learn of the mysterious prism that showed up in Asgard that surprised even the gods there. It’s a little busy, a little convoluted for new readers, but it finds its bearings fairly quickly when it centers in on Coulson and his team going on their mission with the few twists along the way. Coulson is the real star here in this issue, especially those first pages, but I liked seeing the uniform based SHIELD doing its thing here. Part of what I’ll struggle with if I keep up with the book will be disassociating the actors from these characters since the personalities will be different (Fitz and Simmons are weak here), but it has potential if there are some decent stories to it. Pacheco’s artwork is pretty solid throughout as there’s a lot going on and a lot of cameo moments, but it’s all really well detailed and recognizable even in those very busy scenes. While I had a decent time with the book, it’s one that I’m hard pressed to recommend just based on the price alone and I only grabbed it because I’m a fan of the TV series. $5 single digital issues just don’t cut it for me, but I made an exception here.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Image Comics
Release Date: December 31st, 2014