SHIELD #1 - 'Terribilita' - Hickman, Weaver and Oback
Story - SHIELD pisses me off. There's no way to beat around the bush, it annoys me, it makes me angry, it's a frustrating series and that makes it difficult to review. I find it equal parts ridiculous, genius, hilarious, stupid, simplistic and most of all pretentious. It's singular blend of history and mad philosophical bullshit makes it unlike any other Marvel book I've ever read, and that makes me want to support it, but it's so annoying and so deliberately confusing that it makes me want to drop it at the same time.
With this issue, however, things are becoming a little bit clearer. There's still nonsense like Michelangelo being some kind of cosmic time-traveller for no reason, and there's the introduction of nebulous rubbish like 'Bendy Time', but we are finally getting some answers to several of the lingering questions that abound in this series. This issue revealed who Leonid's parents really are, and it sort of revealed what the hell that white bird woman is, and it revealed a little more about the Da Vinci Vs. Newton cage-match. This is a good thing, when we reviewed #1 and #2 of the first volume, I expressed concern that the series may not be able to answer all of it's mysteries and spin it's wheels, but it seems Hickman is able to do that in a somewhat satisfactory manner.
But the central problem of the series still persists. Leonid, who is supposedly the central character, who supposedly has some kind of cosmic destiny, is as devoid of characterisation as he was in the first SHIELD #1, he is a total blank slate, he is a nothing, and as such, the series lacks a centre. All the complex artifice of Hickman's mad historical world falls apart if there are no foundations, and even though he's had 8 issues now, Hickman hasn't given us any. I have no reason to really care about what's going on, because there are no characters in this book, just mouthpieces for buzzwords. It's a problem that exists in much of Hickman's work, but in other books like FF and Secret Warriors he has made strides into creating compelling characters or utilising older figures like Spider-Man to good effect. It is not so here, and it is a huge weakness.
Not much else to say really, if you've been following SHIELD since the beginning and like it, then you'll enjoy this issue, as some answers are finally coming to light. But be aware that all the problems that the book has are still here, and show no signs of going away. It must also be said that this issue works as a terrible #1, a new reader would be totally lost with this book, if you want to read SHIELD, this is not a jumping on point, go get the hardback.
Art - And here comes the chorus again: 'At least the art was good', Dustin Weaver is awesome, and gives the stupid stuff going on in this book a bit of gravity and stops it from spinning off into complete gibbering lunacy. A future star.
Best Line - 'Let me ask you something. If all this knowledge you possess has been kept secret... how is it that I know everything you know and more?'