Welcome to Four-Color Bullet, the only comic book review column not afraid to Force-choke that creepy Elf on the Shelf. My fellow Bulleteers, this will be a very abbreviated edition, due to the fact that the holidays caused the comic pickings to be somewhat sparse. But my pick of the week is S.H.I.E.L.D., the new series written by my personal favorite Mark Waid, with art by the brilliant Carlos Pacheco.
This new series about the organization keeping Earth safe from super-powered threats both out-in-the-middle-of-space foreign and domestic pretty much mirrors the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series, but places the team in the mainstream Marvel Universe. Agent Phil Coulson leads a team of agents into hot spots where super-powered threats pop up. Coulson is picked to lead the team due to his obsession with Earth’s super heroes, unfailingly knowing their strengths and weaknesses. It seems that Coulson has a knack for creating teams out of individual heroes to do the most good in a particular situation. Kind of like a game of Hero Clix. As an example, Coulson mentions in one particular scene that he knows how Quicksilver can kill the Hulk.
Joining Agent Coulson and his team are Leo Fitz, level five gadgeteer; Jemma Simmons, xenobiologist; and Melinda May, combat specialist. Their first mission: Rescue Heimdall from a Sharzhadian rebel with a sword made of Uru metal.
By putting heavy hitters like Waid, Pacheco, and different artists on the series as it goes along, it looks like Marvel is taking it seriously. It seems that Waid is free to pick and choose what heroes he wants to use from his bag o’ goodies. Waid does a nice job of giving Coulson some back story without bogging down the entire issue. Fans of the Cinematic Universe already knew he was a fanboy when it came to Earth’s heroes, and Coulson’s flashbacks do a good job of reiterating it. We also see his standing in the hero community, which I thought was pretty cool by itself.
Putting the Agents in the Marvel 616 universe certainly turns the heat up, and gives Marvel an unlimited budget, unburdened by television restrictions and so forth, to do what they want to do and tell the kinds of unfettered stories they want to tell. Bringing live action to the comics medium, with the “unlimited budget” can work, but as I’ve seen often, the writers take the characters way out of their depth and into wholly unbelievable situations. But sometimes it works, and I think Waid will bring Coulson and crew to a fun, comic book level, and tell great stories in the medium. Check out Waid’s work on Daredevil for more of his work and proof of his genius.
It’s nice to see Pacheco stretch his legs and cut loose, drawing some atypical Marvel settings. This one doesn’t take place entirely in New York City. And if the book’s purpose is to showcase other heroes assisting S.H.I.E.L.D. outside their normal environments, this is going to be good.
I think this will be one to watch. There’s a lot of potential, here, and Waid is a proven storyteller. It’ll be interesting to see if anything else mirrors the series. But in the meantime, although this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him on the 616, it’s good to see that Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. are going to stay busy.
And that is 4CB for this week. E-mail and comments are welcome as always.
It’s going to be a wild ride for comics fans in 2015. Buckle up, Buttercup!
See ya next week!