Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Hickman, Weaver & Strain
Marvel’s latest launch may sound misleading by the title. With something called “S.H.I.E.L.D” you might think of Nick Fury or possibly Iron Man’s agents. No, this comic book is a series that is hyped as a major redefinition of the history of the agency. This comic book places the organization squarely in the history books stretching across the last four and a half thousand years. The story is a great start to a very bold concept that I’m pleased to see a major publisher attempt in this day and age where crushing existing continuity is so quickly balked at.
The premise is very simple. Set in the 1950s, a new recruit, Leonid, is brought into the fold and shown the secret underground base located beneath the city of Rome. Once there, Leonid is told of some of the agency’s exploits over the last thousands of years, including its origin. The history lesson is heavy on the science fiction and really stretches the ability to apply an established timeline on inventions that are used against the threats that appear in the book.
The beauty is that the organization is not supposed to be a regular agency. They have super-powers, they use magic and have access to science beyond the ordinary man. It works very well in this story and is not too heavy on the science fiction as you might find in a Warren Ellis comic. Instead, the terminology is kept lighter so that the characters can act without having to explain every little detail.
The comic book is treading an area where it will crush everything you thought you knew about S.H.I.E.L.D and by default characters like Nick Fury, Tony Stark and countless others. However, stories are steering clear of the “today” age as its present is still in the 1950s. It’s walking a line that I think can find the balance between reinventing something without annoying fans that have read stories for the past twenty or thirty years.
The artwork drives this story. It’s one thing to dial up an image of Leonardo da Vinci. It’s an entirely different thing when he is presented so well as in this comic book. The details in the costumes, background, city streets and the old “weapons” show a persistence that is amazing to look at. Additionally, we find many hidden characters to satisfy some of the more casual fans. For example, I’m pretty sure I saw a version of the Hulk in one of the panels. This comic places a lot of emphasis on the art and it helps elevate this to a “can’t miss” level.
History buffs might find some errors with some of the dates in the stories, but the inclusion of some of these historical characters is fairly brilliant in its own right. This is a story that exams a secret organization that has had some famous members for thousands of years and this is the ground floor of that story. Thirty pages of amazing art and a great story should be enough to get you to drop down four bucks on this. It’s definitely worth a read.
4 out of 5 Geek Goggles