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Review Group - S.H.I.E.L.D. #2

Kerny had the pick for new comics shipping June 9th and he selected S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 by Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver and Christina Strain.


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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.

The Review Group really genuinely loved the first issue of S.H.I.E.L.D., so much so that it received the second highest group score we've ever dished out. Could the second issue possibly live up to expectations?
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0609-shield2_cover.jpgReview by BlueStreak

SHIELD continues its strong start in its second issue. This is not your typical comic book. Instead of being superheroes in flashy comics, the reader instead deals with historical figures and hidden cities. Instead of lengthy monologues about good triumphing over evil, the characters discuss the philosophy of human growth and betterment. While some of the figures of the book have real counterparts, in SHIELD, they are more than real. In the Marvel universe, Nostradamus is still a precog and Leonardo da Vinci is still an architect; however, they are more fantastic and mysterious than their historical counterparts.

In this issue, we learn of Leonid’s origin and da Vinci’s purpose for journeying to the modern time. Meanwhile, Agents Stark and Richards continue their battle with the Dark Man, with explosive results. Jonathan Hickman does a fine job of moving his plot forward while building the secret history of the Marvel universe. He moves quickly from scene to scene without becoming bogged down in some of the heavier aspects to his story. While the philosophy that da Vinci spouts adds to the story, it isn’t necessary to understand what is going on. We also get the sense that Leonid and the Dark Man are part of the secret history that Hickman promised to uncover when he began his story. Hickman’s one weakness is characterization; his characters seem one-dimensional compared to da Vinci, who is a character that Hickman obviously enjoys writing.

Dustin Weaver’s art, while still strong, doesn’t shine as brightly as last issue. Some of his pencils lack a sense of seriousness and grandeur that a book like this is supposed to reflect. While Weaver’s full page spreads are supposed to invoke a feeling of awe, they instead fall a little flat. However, Weaver’s action sequences are outstanding, capturing the tone of the book perfectly. His art is also detailed without becoming overwhelming, making the second and third reads as enjoyable as the first.

SHIELD is an exceptionally strong book, but I worry about its longevity. It lacks a true antagonist and relies on heavier, more philosophical themes to draw the reader in. Obviously, revealing the secret history of the Marvel universe takes time, but I worry that if Hickman doesn’t come up with a stronger draw than new, unheard of characters battling in the 1950’s, this book may soon lose the strong head of steam it’s gained from its first two issues.

Story: 8.5
Art: 9
Overall: 8.75


18.jpgReview by Punchy

Story - I don't know if I'm just stupid or what, but I was really bloomin' confused by this issue. I mean, I enjoyed it, but not really sure why, and I don't even really know what happened.

Leonid chats with Leonardo Da Vinci, who spews out a lot of nigh-incomprehensible buzzword speak, which sounded fucking cool and interesting, but I'm not even sure if it actually is. We had some weird backstory for Leonid, where he's with alien lizards, and a Light Man, and a Dark Man and something else.

The Dark Man fights Iron Man and Mister Fantastic's dads, stuff explodes, I assume something happened with alternate realities and some-such and he disappears.

Leonid and Leonardo chat some more, and for some reason there's a page with just their dialogue. Did Dustin Weaver forget to draw that page or was there some reasoning behind it? It seems that the current Shield hierarchy are not living up to Da Vinci's high standards and he wants to bring them back to the right way. The end.

Wha? Huh?

I'm not going to say that this was a bad comic, as I said I enjoyed it, but it made little to no sense, almost every line of dialogue brought up a new massively significant high concept, and there was still very little character development of anyone, Leonid remains as dull as Hal Jordan here.

I mean, it's a lot of fun, and it seems very clever, but at this point to me, this book is all surface, all style, no substance. You've got all these out there proclamations about the Human Machine, and change, and the Forever Man and 'global projections of ideology', which all sound great... but I don't particularly care. Maybe I'm in the wrong frame of mind here, but something's missing which I can't quite put my finger on. I'm willing to stick around though, because this book is a fun ride, and I am truly hoping that by the time Hickman wraps this whole thing up, the gobbledegook that Da Vinci is mouthing off on will retroactively make sense. But at this point, I'm just looking at the thing, bemused, confused, and slightly scared. Yet I still had a good time. An odd one.

Art - Dustin Weaver is pretty great, aside from the random page of just dialogue, I love his work, and think this run will make him a star. Christina Strain's colours are also due some props, she really adds a lot to Weaver's pencils. Even if the story befuddled me, I can still look at the pretty pictures.

Best Line - 'This is what I do Leonid. I see the structure of things and how best to make them work. I am an Architect of everything'.

6/10

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Review by Zero

"Change is not coming, it is here NOW."

I fully expect to hear this comic called pretentious and perhaps confusing. After all it introduces a lot of concepts without fleshing them out, characters refer to events we've never seen, and comes with not one but two delightfully cryptic prophecies. It does all this with aplomb though and the pace never lets up. While issue 1 spanned centuries issue 2 takes place in real time lasting no more than ten minutes at most. We have more action taking place in the now and the immediacy really works in SHIELD's favour, allowing Hickman to get away with one of his special text pages without destroying the book's flow. The speed of the book disguises how much information we're given and as the status quo from issue 1 is already having holes poked in it it becomes clear that this is something special.

The art is as gorgeous as it was before, with an amazing spread of the immortal city and a stunning page featuring a lot of Nathaniel Richardses particularly worthy of praise. Dustin Weaver is going to make his name with SHIELD and I really hope the book can keep him with Hickman for some time.

Arguably even better than the incredible first issue, SHIELD will turn Hickman and Weaver from a future greats to big name talents that Marvel has done very well to grab early.

9

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Review by guitarsmashley

I reread my review of issue 1, I remember scoring it rather high but still had the idea that this book would have a lot of trouble finding it's way and they probably wouldn't translate to a good monthly reading. Which is why I said I would buy the trade. Well having read this issue it has completely turned me off. The art is still gorgeous and the page of dialogue was alright but it sure isn't going to connect with many people myself included, not because it didn't have more pretty pictures, but because it didn't make sense. Which is what the book is quickly approaching. The book made no sense and that's putting it lightly. As Punch put it so well this book is no substance it's all high fluff but no point to it. If this is going to Marvels Planetary they made a very wrong turn and put out a truly inferior product.

4

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Review by starlord

I couldn't come up with anything that Punchy already hadn't said. And I'm getting ready for my vacation in Florida. So yes, I cheated this week. I just don't like this series. Sorry.

Story: 5
Art: 8
My Score: 6.5

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Review by Daringd

Hell yes this was a great issue. The art really impressed me. Hickman might be crafting his Masterwork.

9.5/10

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Review by Eli Katz

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.

STORY: 0
ART: 8
OVERALL: 4

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Review by doombug

So this was a dialogue and exposition heavy issue. That''s not necessarily a bad thing but I'm still not quite sure what the hell is going on. We get a little more of our leads past and see a huge fight between Riichards/Stark and Leonid's father.

Like I said earlier, I have no idea where the hell this is going but its damn pretty to look at. All in all it's a strong issue but I'm not sure the series is really gaining ground at this point.

Verdict: 8

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Review by 48THRiLLS

I enjoyed the first issue of this series despite having to review the black and white variant so it was pretty nice to have the color version this time and the art looked just amazing. I also really enjoyed the book itself, it started off with some great ideas, I love Da Vinci as a super hero and founding member of SHIELD. Issue 2 hit a bit of a snag I thought but not enough to deter me from picking up the next issue, I didn't mind the text only page which (I am sure this has been said before already) reminded me of Hickman's indie stuff. I also like seeing the senior Stark and Richards as part of early SHIELD, I think Jonathon Hickman has some grand ideas coming and with Dustin Weaver on the art I don't see how this can't become a classic series... but this issue here was filled with a lot of huhwha? that will probably make sense as we read on but I am scoring this one lower than issue 1.

STORY - 7
ART - 9
OVERALL - 8

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Review by amlah6

There's a reason we haven't done a lot of mid-arc issues over the years. First issues provide the setup, final issues provide the climax, second issues provide the exposition. Not that there's anything wrong with exposition, it has to happen after all, it's just not always the most exciting part of the story. I still had a lot of fun reading this though, S.H.I.E.L.D. is still Hickman being Hickman. I could have done with another page or five of the text block, but it's Marvel and Marvel's audience is never going to embrace Hickman's creator owned style of storytelling so I guess I'll take what I can get. This issue I think worked best in the scenes with Leonid and Da Vinci, but the rest wasn't much of a step down. I'm very much looking forward to this being collected and getting a chance to read the full story instead of the single issue installments.

On art, Weaver and Strain continue their strong collaboration. I like that they're continuing to try new things and hope that they will continue to evolve as the series progresses.

Story: 10
Art: 9
Overall: 9.5

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Review by Porcelain38

This series is perfect. The way Hickman is slowly revealing the history of the Marvel U is something to behold. The single page of only text dialogue was great and amazing to see in a Marvel book of all places. The art is fantastic as always.

This book gets a 10.
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That gives S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 a group score of 7.57. Not a full 2 point drop from the first issue, but close.  (Is that phoned in enough for you 4thy?)

For what I'm sure is a very enlightening discussion, join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are invited to post your own review!
Comment or post your own review!
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I have the pick for next week and out of pure self loathing I have selected the absolute last comic I would actually want to read, New Avengers #1 published by Marvel Comics. Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning. Check back Thursday to see if I've bludgeoned myself to death after having to read more Bendispeak in an Avengers book. Seriously Marvel, fuck you.

0616-newavengers1_cover.jpgNew Avengers #1

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Stuart Immonen

Find out who the New Avengers are, where they call home (gotta see it to believe it!), which Dark Avenger has joined their ranks, and just who the interdimensional demonic threat to our existence is! These heroes have gathered to take on the threats too dark, too dangerous, and too bizarre for any other team of heroes. The New Avengers are back!! And Bendis & Immonen are back with the Siege & Secret Invasion colorista Laura Martin!! You didn't really think Marvel was going to cancel their number one ongoing title did you? Heck no!! Backup feature: Another brand new oral history of the Avengers chapter by Bendis! Rated A …$3.99

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