This week is a little different, I’m going to talk about a Marvel comics “event” of sorts, where they celebrated the 50th anniversary of S.H.I.E.L.D. in comics by releasing a couple of one-shots.
But are these a worthy recap of 50 years of Marvel history or has Marvel just screwed the pooch? Let’s find out.
The Calvary – This one is about Melinda May, the character on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show. She is taking a group of recruits on a training mission at a decommissioned Hydra base when things don’t go exactly as planned. As a concept, this seems solid, but in practice, it really doesn’t work. This could be due to the writing and certainly there are places where the pacing feels way off. I’d like to think that this isn’t a reflection on the Agent May character. She works great on the TV show because she’s part of an ensemble cast, but when asked to act alone in the comic, she gets immediately upstaged by her recruits who come off as more engaging and interesting than she does. They play her as a legend and one whose legend is not very well deserved at that. She really doesn’t play a strong role in resolving the conflict, she lets the recruits run the show when the training exercise turns deadly and luckily, they are smarter than they look. She never gives any indication that she has a plan B. I find that a bit disconcerting to be honest. The art is decent but not anything to write home about.
Agent Carter – We visit Agent Carter in 1966 on a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, where she is paired with Lady Sif, just as something mysterious happens and the carrier is thrown into chaos. Can Peggy survive or is there more to this than meets the eye? Again, this is kind of a problematic issue because Peggy really isn’t given the chance to shine. She’s supposed to be tested by Fury, but I never see her really do anything particularly noteworthy. In fact, she clearly plays second banana to Sif the whole time. It’s Sif who wants to get into the action, it’s Sif who pulls her sword, Carter seems meek and hesitant at almost every turn. Now as I’ve said before, the Peggy Carter stories that I want to read are the ones where she helps S.H.I.E.L.D. get started, as suggested at the end of the Marvel One-Shot “Agent Carter”. Seeing her be an agent isn’t all that interesting to me. Seeing her head S.H.I.E.L.D. is what I want and what we have never really seen. Maybe this is leading up to that, I don’t know, but it is too little, too slow. Again, nothing all that exciting IMO.
Fury – When modern-day Nick Fury gets sent back in time to the 60s, he meets up with his father and together they have to stop the Hate Monger from starting a race riot and disrupting the future. Yeah, this really isn’t that hot either, I’m sorry to say. This is supposed to be a series of anniversary specials celebrating 50 years of S.H.I.E.L.D. and this is the only one so far that has even addressed the pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe comic book version and let’s be honest, this is all about the modern screen version. And, of course, since the modern version is black, they have to throw racism into it. Ugh. Hate Monger is such a ridiculous villain to begin with, to really focus on racism and race riots is just stupid. There really isn’t a lot of in depth interaction between the two Furys anyhow, new Nick gets taken into custody, he gives the super secret code word to his father and now, he’s almost leading the team. We never get to see the older Fury really in charge, he just fades into the background. What kind of anniversary is it when you just ignore the whole breadth and history of the organization? And again, art is not very strong, this seems to be a running issue, like they brought in their C-listers.
Mockingbird – At least this one has decent art, but like the rest, the story just leaves me saying “meh”. This time, we focus on Mockingbird and while she has a long history in the Marvel Universe, none of that is reflected here. Instead, she’s just sleeping around, reflecting on her relationship choices, etc. I guess the purpose of the story is to introduce her to new readers, but an anniversary issue for S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t seem to be the best place to do this, does it? There’s a 10-page backup with the origin of Red Widow that likewise feels entirely out of place. It’s not a bad story, although it is hampered by length, but what does it have to do with the 50th anniversary of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Absolutely nothing at all.
Quake – Oh look, another character created entirely for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. Again, 50 years of a comic franchise and this means what? This one features the most Marvel cameos as Daisy goes on an adventure with the Avengers and feels inadequate. So far, IMO, having Quake make the transition from TV to comics has been underwhelming and it is no different here. It was always Chloe Bennett that made the character memorable and without her, there really isn’t much to see. The art here has a very indy vibe, which frankly isn’t all that good, certainly not what I’d expect to see in a high quality Marvel title. Once again, I am underwhelmed.
I think you can see from every single one of these reviews that this just isn’t what I expected. For a series of one-shots purporting to be about the 50th Anniversary of S.H.I.E.L.D., it has nothing whatsoever to do with the 50th Anniversary of S.H.I.E.L.D. Instead, it has to do with characters from the TV series. It would have been cool to see how things have changed over the years but they largely ignore anything older than a few years. Sure, the original Nick Fury shows up and Dum Dum Dugan is seen in a couple of panels, but that’s it. For an organization that started back in the Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos days, they have no interest in acknowledging any of it. Instead they just want to showcase what they’re doing right now and that’s fine, but they already have a S.H.I.E.L.D. series in the comics and one on TV, do they need to try to attract older readers who are looking for some nostalgia too?