SHIELD has always been a controversial book for the Review Group, how does the latest issue fare?
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.
This week features the return of Jonathan Hickman's SHIELD, a boot that divides our humble group like, um, something that divides things. Some love it, some hate it. LET THE BATTLE COMMENCE!
My hope for the volume 2 of this series is that it starts to make just a little bit of sense. I recall when the first volume started people initially hailed it as "a thinking man's comic" because it had some philosophical talk in it. While I don't go into that stuff myself I have to admit that the ideas presented within the book have been interesting and this issue in particular offers a neat look into the concept of deja vu which fits in fairly nicely with the physics of the Marvel Universe.
The one thing people praised the book on though is also the main thing holding it back. What is the central conflict of this book? What is the plot or purpose? All of these answers are hidden in the endless philosophical babble hickman throws at us, which often feels like reading a university freshman's take on Descartes. From what I gathered from this issue alone there are two rival factions of geniuses one lead by DaVinci and the other lead by Isaac Newton. Our protagonist is stuck in the middle for some reason and doesn't want to take sides. That is pretty much all I got as far as plot goes, no other motivations are clear through out the course of the story.
This issue itself does a better job of presenting its ideas in a clear manner, and setting some sort of story into motion. This may be too little too late however for fans who gave up after issues of convolusions and nothing really happening. Still the comic fails because we really don't know many of the characters or really care about them at this point. In that regards the book falls flat.
Is this the best issue of SHIELD so far? Probably in all honesty, is it enough to make the series something coherent? Not yet I'm afraid.
This book has a lot of plot, but not much else. Dustin Weaver is a huge talent but if this book were drawn by an artist like say Danijel Zezelj or of that scratchy style this book would be universally panned as shit and unintelligible shit. This is what Hickman needed to create a convoluted book with a strange timeline trying to be marvels Planetary or maybe a Grant Morrison book with less drugs and more science. The book isn't confusing as much as it is just complicated for the sake of being complicated and taking itself far too seriously. Hickman's FF was pretty decent till he "killed" Human Torch, so he has the ability to write a straight forward story which is why I just don't get this crap.
Overall more of the same. Still the same writing wise however Dustin Weaver's art looks off. Very off, I don't know if it is the colorist or what but I didn't actully think it was Weaver's art of the flip though.
Not much to say
Yoni is right. This book makes me hate the Renaissance and wish that Europe had never emerged from the Dark Ages.
It's boring. Just plain boring. I don't get it but I will say it makes me rethink my dislike for Grant Morrison. Even he can't be this pretentious.
My Score: 1.5
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?'
I haven't read the first volume of this series, so I don't know why people are in such a tizzy about it. If this many people hate it and call it pretentious, then that makes me immediately want to like it.
I liked this issue enough, even though it suffers from a case of First-Issue-All-Setup_itis. But it clearly delineates what's what in the book, so that was helpful. There isn't much more I can say about it than that, though. This issue didn't really live, it just kind of sat there and talked to you for a while. I was already pretty interested in SHIELD, and I definitely will take a look back at the first volume, but I hope there are livelier moments than this issue had. I liked the artwork, though. Good lines and clear storytelling with vibrant color.
Same same same. Glowing dickless time-traveling Michelangelo has a statue of the Kirby Eternal Ikaris in his studio. Hopefully now that the pointless jump to the future is over for the three Dads and a bird this series will start to go somewhere besides Newton vs Da Vinci.
Loved the art. Loved the writing. Can't wait for the trade.
Not much more to be said after my reviews for the first two issues. It's well written, well drawn and the plot is certainly picking up speed. I'm enjoying this more than any of Hickman's other Marvel work and while it's a shame Christina Strain's colours are missing the rest of the creative team hasn't missed a beat. Great comic.
SHIELD #1 gets a total score of 5.67. See? Controversial! The Hicklash continues to rage across the internet. Read the full thread here for more Hicklash. Next week is Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1. OUTRAGEOUS.
Written or Contributed by: Niam Suggitt