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Review Group: S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, April 13 2010 and posted in Reviews
review-group-icon.jpgJubilee had the pick for new comics shipping April 7th and he selected S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 by Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver and Christina Strain.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.

To say the Review Group has been a bit contentious of late would be something of an understatement.  Between the heaps of in-thread meltdowns and hilarity this week though, almost everyone agrees that Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver's S.H.I.E.L.D. is one hell of a comic book.

0407-shield_cover.jpgReview by thefourthman

This is quite frankly, a stunning book. It is beautiful. You open it up and you know it is something special. The art and writing is credited to both Hickman and Weaver on the inside front cover. I would imagine that a good deal of that has to do with the synthesis that is necessary in a great comic book. On the art side, it is fairly obvious that Weaver is the penciller, but at the same time, the panels are dynamic, experimental, yet still intuitive in their progression.

Weaver steps up to the challenge that Hickman has thrown him and draws unnaturally perfect beings in the Iter. He handles the beauty of Florence and the grit of modern day Rome with ease. The Da Vinci panels are a primitive steampunk like none other before it. The Egypt sequence is full of visceral battle and in contrast to the infinite expanse of the celestials hiding under Rome.

Furthermore, he easily plays on our concepts of the characters, Da Vinci with his flowing hair is a built adventurer. The agents Stark and Rogers look like their modern counterparts. The Brood and Galactus in previous time periods.

Much of this is obviously the genius of Hickman. The mad science fiction writer of tomorrow. Yeah, I’m a fan. There is no denying it. I think Pax Romana, Transhuman, and The Nightly News are some of the most exciting comics of the 2000's. When Hickman made the jump to Marvel, it seemed like they sucked the big ideas from him. Secret Warriors has its moments but might be a tad bit overrated. His Fantastic Four seems to have the big ideas and seems to be building to something, but at this point it is unclear.

Right at the onset of this comic, Hickman lets us know he is back. Not only is he back, he is taking the entire Marvel Universe on an incredible ride. This is a secret history of Marvel. Leonid is Elijah Snow, getting ready to explore the unknown and with him is Leonardo Da Vinci, resurrected through time.

This is epic comics at its most breathtaking, cutting a wide swath across history and full of moments to make the comic geek giddy with excitement. Furthermore it sets up a grand mystery that will keep the reader engaged going forward. Certainly, it will have its detractors, this is a more high brow affair then “snikt!” and spandex. Folks will wonder where all the action is (even though it is there). For me, however, this is as good as comics get.

Score 10


Review by starlord

Read this twice and to say this story is huge would be an understatement. There are so many ideas and concepts running through this that I've got a feeling we're going to need a scorecard to keep up. Okay, maybe I will. High concepts are not my forte. I much more enjoy the street level stories like Batman and Daredevil so my little brain has a harder time wrapping itself around some of this stuff.

I have to admit though that I find this to be an intriguing book with just the first issue. I like the legacy of SHIELD but not sure about bringing back Da Vinci. Also for this being SHIELD, I'd sure like to see a character that I'm interested in. Hell, Dum Dum Dugan would be fine.

Now the art is beautiful and well worth the price of admission. I love any artist that focuses on the detail and Weaver does just that. In simple terms: the pictures are purdy.

Story: 7
Art: 10
My Score: 8.75


Review by Kerny

Loved, LOVED this book

Big ideas, big Science, big fun.

The way Hickman can use classic characters and their ancestors is potentially beyond awesome. Even more so, when they interact with real life people. Including Love God Da Vinci

Leonid is our everyman character, and he has a creepy dad with a talking bird. Nuff said

My favorite part is when you see Apocalyspe and Egyptian Moon Knight ready to do battle with some Brood. Stuff like that will make the book cool. We might get some ancient symbiotes!

Weaver's art is pretty detailed, and pretty great. I got the black and white edition,so stuff really stands out. Can't wait to see where this book goes.
Hickman hasn't let me down yet.

Story 10
Art 10
Overall 10


Review by Spicy Dick

I also loved Hickman's early stuff, his Marvel stuff--it's a mixed bag, his Fantastic Four--I said this earlier today--is like a filmstrip of a great movie. (Except only 4 of you will know what a filmstrip is.) I don't find reading it monthly very satisfying so I'm trade-waiting it optimistically. I just finished Secret Warriors the first HC and I liked it but thought it was a fairly standard story broken up chronologically to make it interesting. With good but not great characterization. I just read issue #7 though, and liked it.

After a second reading I could put away some of my mild reservations about SHIELD #1 aside, after all it's just the first issue, but I hope it's not just a slideshow of super-cool bits of story. One thing's for sure, Hickman's read his Robert Anton Wilson and stuff. This is a big big investment of magic, power, wealth, etc in the Marvel universe and I want it to make sense--SHIELD and HYDRA the same, all of it controlled by this renaissance faire illuminati, it's a whopper for sure. It so drastically affects the foundation of the Marvel universe as we've known it--I hope it's coherent and not a Hickman set of ideas that would be better unrestrained from the 616.

Other minor stuff--I found the cryptic dialogue a little stiff and couldn't help but think roll my eyes a little when they all said it's not how the world ends. I tried making some of the dialogue into a rock opera, it worked pretty well...but yeah, I found the dialogue and helmets a little clunky. Just a little. More the helmets.

A lot of the rube Goldberg machinery, the "steampunk" fourthy nergasms over, I liked most of it but didn't find da Vinci's gear very convincing. The Night Machine pages were intriguing if not a little confounding, I guess there wasn't much in-story room here to establish Leonid a bit better. I didn't like being told in the back-matter that he is a cosmic dynamo or whatever, and certainly didn't need the writer to tell me he is a stand in for the reader. But whatever. I still view these sort of pages as wasted space and would prefer all the information be instilled through the narrative itself.

As I said, I got the B&W version. The artwork is great, but still can look paint-by-numbers without the colors on some of the more complex panels. I want to check out the finished art, because although this was B&W it wasn't made specifically for B&W.

The comparisons to Planetary are sort of obvious, but SHIELD will have to have a solid fantastic year under its belt before I'm gonna start seriously recommending it at that level. We'll see. That'd be cool. But Planetary was a pet project by its creators often on hold for more profitable ventures, and I have a tiny worry SHIELD could be a Planetary-level idea adapted to more profitable Marvel work-for-hire pay.



Review by john lewis hawk

S.H.I.E.L.D. may possibly become Marvel's greatest title in years.

With that said, S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 was a disappointment. As someone who follows previews and other similar things, especially ones for a title that sounds good, a lot of the issue feels like a re-hash of preview art I've already seen and an introductory issue without enough substance to keep me happy.

Also, Weaver's art is great but is a bit too clean for what I would've liked. For example, Leonardo DaVinci looks like he wrestles alligators for a living inbetween filming Calvin Klein underwear commercials. In reality, he was a bit of a curmugedon who acted like hygiene was unnecessary.

That said, Hickman introduces many great ideas and clearly has a master plan that will make the Marvel Universe better but I need to see more than just potential.

11.jpgReview by Zero

I haven't enjoyed a lot of first issue of a Marvel comic this much since Runaways popped up a few years ago. That too was a Marvel Universe title I wouldn't have bought were it not for a writer I love. It was also coloured damn well by Christina Strain but I suspect that's a coincidence.

Jonathan Hickman impressed me with Nightly News before blowing me away with Pax Romana. This could be the book that shows everyone else what he can do. Much like Secret Warriors (which it has some clear ties to) this is a book with lots of story to tell but no desire to be rushed. Like his Fantastic Four stories, this was been largely set-up for what's to come but unlike "The World's greatest Comic Magazine" nothing feels missing. It's a first issue that sells us on the concept totally as well as adding a nice little origin tale for the titular organisation. It doesn't spend much time on the characters, but this will come. For now I just want to know more about the secret history of the Marvel universe, so the first issue has done its job.

Since coming to Marvel Hickman's amazing design sensibility has been limited to backmatter and a short piece in Strange Tales but here you can really see his influence in the panel layouts. It's a shame to me he's not drawing the whole thing. Luckily like Brian Wood over at DC, Hickman has been handed a wonderful artist to put his ideas onto paper. Dustin Weaver is a revelation, grounding the concept with detailed, natural looking art that captures the feel of the book perfectly. While I normally like something a bit more idiosyncratic the chances of Marvel giving us 22 pages of Hickman's art are slim to none so it's a good job that we've got an artist who can pull off DVinci and his pre-steampunk jetpack without it looking even a little silly. Damn good work.

Cute ties to the Marvel universe, a great big hint about the underlying plot of my beloved Secret Warriors and an ending that demands a resolution, this is everything I wanted when Jonathan Hickman came to Marvel. Hopefully everyone else is ready to jump on the wagon.


10.jpgReview by Flynn the Pirate

I had to re-read this book a couple of times before I made this attempt at reviewing it. Not because I did not understand what was going on in it, though it is definitely clear that there is going to be some very heady shenanigans indeed from this book. No, I had to reread this several times because I had to see if I missed anything that might make this book the "WOW" book I was so hoping it would be.

It does not seem that I did.

Is S.H.I.E.L.D. bad? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I think Hickman, in the relatively short time he has been at Marvel, has set the bar so high that there were expectations, including my own, that this was going to be a lot better than I found it to be. I was expecting, like Secret Warriors or his run on Fantastic Four, a bang right out of the gate. Instead, it seems that he's going for a slow simmer. And there's nothing wrong with that, necessarily. It's just not what I was expecting.

I was also not quite prepared to have so much of what another reviewer called "high ideas" to be present. Again, maybe that's my own expectations based on his other work on Secret Warriors and the very name of the book. Several comparisons have been made between this book and Planetary. Certainly, it feels more like a Warren Ellis book than a Hickman book, which in turn makes me wonder just what it is we're in for with this. I know, I know... that's probably the point.

Anyway, this was a pretty standard first issue. Our ostensible main character is introduced, though we know almost nothing about him or his father or what powers he seems to have. The presence of The Shield throughout time is an interesting idea and part of me wants to see more of this, but only if it is actually relevant. As this is a first issue, that remains to be seen, though I have no reason to suspect he has this all worked out.

The art was quite good, though sometimes I think the use of lighting was too heavy-handed. Seeing it reminded of watching a J.J. Abrahms movie where a light from behind the character or alongside the character is constantly being flashed in the viewer's eyes. But other than that, no complaints.

On the whole, a descent book. Not the greatest thing nor as good as I went into it thinking it would be, but definitely enough here to get me interested in the series.

7 out of 10

08.jpgReview by doombug

"This is not how the world ends."

With those magic words we are taken through several points in time with such visionary men as Leonardo Da Vinci to an ancient egyptian king known as Imhotep fighting an army of creatures we haven't seen for a while. Each point in time is beautifully drawn as we see important men fighting to save the world from well known threats in the marvel universe over time.

Hickman plays with continuity in a fun way here, throwing everything and the kitchen sink in and as a reader you can't help but be sucked in. It's setting up a mystery as well as apparently one of the biggest secrets ever to be had in the marvel U.

We follow the journey through time via the eyes of a man who seems to be powered. His name is Leonid and he seems to be very important to the way things will go in the series. Seeing who I am assuming are possibly the fathers/godfathers of Tony Stark and Reed Richards is a bit confusing at first but I got used to it by the final few pages of the story.

Leonid himself seems to be cosmically powered by the way he flashes stars on his own body, I'm not sure if this was an art choice or he really is as I swear some dialogue hints differently and leads me to believe he's powered.

To me this feels like early Venture brothers history and a little of what Mike Carey is doing in the unwritten, it's using history and melding it in a fun way with history that doesn't feel at all forced to me.

I really believe the Night Machine could possibly be Nikolai Tesla, but I am not 100 percent on that theory. All of the mystery and excitement leads me to be very involved in what happens next, especially do to that last page.

Dustin's artwork is incredible and this is the hell of a way to start his career. He's certainly the luckiest guy in the business right now and I cannot wait to see what else awaits this promising upstart.

This isn't a cape book, it's not a mystery series, it's not even an action book. What it is is exactly what it promises, the secret history of SHIELD and so far, that is a journey this reader wants to be a part of.

Story: 10
Art: 10
Overall: 10


Review by daringd

Everything a comic book should be...nuff said.

Seriously, Hickman and Weaver owned fucking owned.

Review by Punchy

Story  - I'm not going to pretend to be cool and tell you I've been a fan of Jonathan Hickman for years, and I read his Image work in single issues. Like everyone else who's not lying through their teeth, I first discovered Hickman's work when he went to Marvel and started Secret Warriors, and then after being wowed by that and Fantastic Four, I went back to his Image stuff in trades. He's a very good writer, with strong ideas, and has shown himself to be adept at both Indie stuff and working in the Marvel Universe. Which brings us to perhaps his most ambitious Marvel project yet, S.H.I.E.L.D. (I'm going to go without the fullstops when referring to that from now on, it's too much effort, so when I type SHIELD don't bloody well complain).

SHIELD is the most venerable of Marvel institutions, but this is a book with a difference, instead of seeing Nick Fury, Dum Dum and the Contessa jetting around the world doing spy stuff (see Secret Warriors), you get something a lot more far-reaching. Hickman has revealed that SHIELD was not formed in the 1960s by Nick Fury, but actually goes back all the way to Ancient Egyptian times, when Imhotep (and Apocalypse, cool cameo) fought a Brood invasion. Ever since then SHIELD, or 'The Shield' have protected and furthered the cause of man. Ancient China fought of a Celestial, Galileo defeated Galactus, and of course, Leonardo da Vinci was an agent. Comparisons with the likes of Planetary and the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen are apt, seeing this classic Marvel iconography juxtaposed with real human history and real historical figures is very exciting, and makes me intrigued as to what else SHIELD has done. I also liked the refrain of 'This is not how the world ends'. But it does beg the question, how does the world end?

But this isn't just an alternative history lesson, there are events in the modern age too. Well, not modern, the 1950s. We meet a central character, Leonid, who is drafted into SHIELD and serves as our viewpoint character. He seems to have some sort of superpowers, and his dad is powered too, and a former agent of SHIELD himself. I actually feel that this is where the book falls short, the events in 'the present' are just not gripping. Leonid is not particularly well developed, and I just didn't care about him. Hopefully he will be fleshed out in coming issues, this is only #1 after all, but I think this is a problem with Hickman in general. In Secret Warriors, he often gets too tied up in the epic backstory of the war between SHIELD and HYDRA and LEVIATHAN and forgets to develop the main characters of the Secret Warriors themselves. The same is true in his Fantastic Four run to some extent, he gets too tied up in the big ideas and forgets the basics of character. Luckily his big idea stuff has been really good, so I can forgive it, but it's a problem. SHIELD cannot just rely on the fun of seeing the secret history of the Marvel Universe, it needs to have compelling characters in it's main plotline too.

But still, this is one of the most promising debut issues I've read in a long while, probably since The Unwritten #1, it's clear that Hickman has the vision to carry out such big ideas, and I'm certainly excited to see where this goes, and how it ties into the revelations about SHIELD Hickman has used in Secret Warriors. It's not perfect, but it's something different and exciting, you can't really ask for more than that.

Art - Where has Marvel been hiding Dustin Weaver? This was really good stuff, reminding me of such stellar artists as Leonard Kirk, Chris Weston and even Steve McNiven at times. Seriously impressive stuff, excellent costume designs, and interesting panel layouts (Hickman and Weaver are credited as 'Written and Illustrated by', did Hickman have a hand in some of those? I'm glad this book is bi-monthly, if it allows Weaver to deliver work of this standard every issue.

Best Line - 'Science. Magic. How do you define one without the other?'



Review by Porcelain38

I loved this issue. I hadn't read a single first issue of a series that i loved as much as this since Gailman's Eternal's mini.

The artwork was solid. Each page looked sharp and each time period had a distinct look to it.

The story....oh god. The story....freaking amazing? The orgin of SHEILD?Imhoteph, Apcolypse, and a Moon Knight fighting of a Brood invasion? One of the most fucking awesome things i have ever seen on a page. The two page spread was gorgeous. I love the fact that Da Vinic is being set up as a main supporting character in this series/arc. THe easter egg of Stark and Richards was cute...not necessary...but cute. The main character is actually interesting and it's obvious the relation with his dad will result in lots of intugie and mystery.

"This is not how the world ends" definetly sets the tone of the book.

I can not wait to see where this book goes.


Review by Chubbles

Great issue. I haven't read many comics in the past month or two but I made sure to read this one. Art was top notch, coloring was great, dialogue was great, pacing was great. I really can't complain about anything in this book. This is the perfect book for Hickman to be on. He's a brilliant big picture storyteller and giving him the world of Marvel to play with is fantastic casting by Quesada. Hickman should thrive on this book. The Marvel fanbase will now see him as being the star that he is. I can imagine him tying this in with both Secret Warriors and Fantastic Four which are also two of my favorite monthly reads.

Story 10
Art 10
Overall 10

04.jpgReview by amlah6

I <3 Jonathan Hickman, I really do. I got kind of pissy about him stepping away from his creator owned work, but I love Secret Warriors (Hurry up with the v2 tp already Marvel!) and I've warmed up to his FF. This comic though feels like the first time he's really bringing that attitude and approach from his earlier works and fully integrating it into a Marvel comic and it thoroughly kicks ass. Celestials, Galactus and DiVinci indeed! Lots of fun big ideas and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all takes shape.

Dustin Weaver was pretty awesome on X-Men: Kingbreaker but he's working on another level here. Some of the layouts and panel design felt very Hickman so it would seem that he possibly had some hand in that, but Weaver's art meshed with it amazingly well. The only way the book could have looked more perfect is if there had been a more tech based font, the standard font Klein used here feels woefully out of place.

Hope this gets a good long run, maybe if Hickman shoehorns in Wolverine and Spider-Man he can get 5-6 years. Wink

Story: 10
Art: 9
Overall: 9.5

Review by guitarsmashley

Don't have a lot of time for this review, The High concept of this book is intriguing and I will definitely be buying the trade because I want to see where everything goes but in one issue the story goes far too many places and leaves me the reader wanting more of pocy in egypt and more renaissance galactus. I get neither and instead looks like we're heading towards this 1950's story with characters we're not introduced to. The art however is just so amazing that it helps you forget any story issues you might have and ultimately sky rockets this stories score.


03.jpgReview by Jude Terror

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book, as it is, of course, a unique concept. I have recently gotten into Hickman's Secret Warriors, and I haven't read any of his indie stuff, so to me he's a new creator, one who is unproven. Hickman proves himself with S.H.I.E.L.D., creating something far greater than anyone could have expected. Based on that alone, I would score this book very highly, but this is not how the review ends.

Based on the previews and promotion for this book, I was expecting an interesting story set in the past. I knew that it had something to do with Leonardo Da Vinci, and that perhaps he was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Nothing incredibly groundbreaking, but certainly a fun concept. This book, however, is much much more than that. It featured tales of historical figures, important both in real world history and Marvel Universe history, saving the world from various threats throughout time, and established a history for S.H.I.E.L.D. going back to Ancient Egypt. Delivering on the expectations of the book is good enough to secure an excellent score, but this is not how the review ends.

What the book did on the surface was only a small part of the story. The true ambition of this book is to give purpose and meaning to the entire history of the Marvel Universe, tying together events and characters to turn all of Marvel history into one massive, connected story. This is a grand purpose indeed, and one that may seem impossible to attempt, but Hickman is off to a good start. A glorious purpose such as this would win any first issue a 10 out of 10, but as you can see by the paragraph below, this is not how the review ends.

I will definitely be following this series to see Hickman attempt this feat. I'll be paying even more attention to Secret Warriors. I'll probably check out Fantastic Four to see how that might tie in. I may even go back and pick up some of Hickman's indie stuff. All of this excitement and anticipation from the first issue of a comic is what really makes this book great. It makes me want to read more comics. That alone would be good enough for any one book, but this is not how the review ends.

Hickman's S.H.I.E.L.D. succeeds on every level, and it is a grand enough book to exist on many levels at once. It delivers a satisfying story, it aims for a grand purpose, it sets the stage for things to come, and it hooks the reader. The perfect comic book.

10 of 10


Review by Jubilee

Yeah just got this in the mail. Beautiful art, amazing high concept ideas, so much stuff which I hope to see flashed out. Honestly, it's refreshing to read something so out there and fresh from Marvel Comics.

Only a quick review but 10 out of 10

That gives S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 a group score of 9.20.  This is just the seventh time a book has scored over a 9 and S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 cleared that bar easy.  This is the third highest score the Review Group has ever awarded.

Are you a big believer in the sanctity of Facebook?  Well my friend I have just the flame war for you, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are invited to post your own review and as a bonus you can even sneak a peak at the long fabled Spreadsheet of Doom!
Comment or post your own review!

0414-killshakespeare_cover.jpgSpicy Dick has made his triumphant return much to Punchy's dismay and has made Kill Shakespeare #1 from IDW Publishing the pick for April 14th.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning.

Kill Shakespeare #1

Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col (w)
Andy Belanger (a)

What Fables does for fairy tales, Kill Shakespeare does with the greatest writer of all time. This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare. This debut— featuring a full 32-page story—will change the way you look at Shakespeare forever. • $3.99


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