We all have our biases as readers and fanboys. Some people can’t stand love stories; other people can’t stand stories with unhappy endings. Some people crave sequels; other people demand original, unpredictable plots. The things that we love and hate, as readers or viewers, are deeply personal and often difficult to rationalize. But they guide our choices as consumers of entertainment.
The big issue for me, no matter what I’m reading or watching, is that I have to be able to suspend disbelief to enjoy the story. If the storyteller draws unnecessary attention to the storytelling process, I snap out of the enchantment of being entertained and snap back into the ugly, unenchanting world of real life.
How does this apply to S.H.I.E.L.D. #2? Well, the whole book seems to be a glossy, post-modern effort to draw attention to the storytelling process and in turn undermine the entertainment value of the story itself. First, I don’t believe -- in fact, I refuse to believe -- that real-life Renaissance figures, such as Galileo and Leonardo Da Vinci, are part of the Marvel Universe and can travel the cosmos. Seriously, that’s ridiculous and it takes me out of the story before I can even get started.
Yes, I know that Marvel has often used real-life people as characters in the past. Back in the early 1970s, for example, both Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew played important roles in the INCREDIBLE HULK. And, yes, I know that Marvel has frequently incorporated current invents -- including the Vietnam War, 9/11, and the Iraq War -- into its books. But I accept those real-life intrusions into the comic book world because they were contemporary intrusions. I can’t accept a complete re-writing and Marvelization of world history. It’s too big and, more important, too absurd.
Second, Hickman’s use of the script page near the end of issue 2 completely disrupts the flow of the story. This is an ugly, post-modern device that has been overused by flaky writers like William S. Burroughs and Kathy Acker. I can’t stand it. There’s nothing worse than breaking apart the narrative style and hammering the reader with many different kinds of storytelling approaches in one book. It’s distracting and inconsistent, and again it takes me out of the story.
Third, and perhaps most troubling, it’s hard to get drawn into a book where nothing makes sense and no one speaks like a regular character. S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 has some of the most stilted language I have ever read in a comic. I’m not exaggerating. It’s as if Hickman took the very worst dialogue written by Jack Kirby 35 years ago, and tried to make it even more awkward and unnatural sounding.
This book, story-wise, is a pointless mess. The only consolation is that S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 features some pretty pictures with many shiny, bright colors. But I need more than nice pictures to enjoy a comic book. I need a full story with three-dimensional characters.
This book is not worth the cover price.