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

SHIELD_1_CoverHigh-tech weapons. High-stakes missions. High-octane adventure! For the men and women of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s just another day in the field! Special Agent Phil Coulson brings together the best and the brightest, the gifted and the elite, normal people and superhumans from across the Marvel Universe on an as-needed basis to confront, combat and curtail dangers beyond the scope of any conventional peace-keeping force!

Every issue: Twenty pages. One mission. Unlimited budget. Unlimited imagination. Six periods. And a helper monkey. Welcome to Level Eight. Welcome to S.H.I.E.L.D.

Writer Mark Waid has the unenviable task of translating Marvel’s semi-hit television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into a comic. Joined by artist Carlos Pacheco (the series will rotate artists), the first issue doesn’t just reintroduce us to Agent Phil Coulson, but also brings in the television show regulars Melinda May, Leo Fitz, and Jemma Simmons, who it seems along with Coulson will make the core of the series.

Here’s the bad, Phil Coulson already existed in the Marvel 616 comic universe. He appeared years ago in Battle Scars #1, and was seen most recently in the AXIS event, helping Valeria Richards and Doctor Doom defeat the Scarlet Witch. In between he bounced around, popping up in various series as someone in the background and a fill in for Nick Fury Jr. That Coulson wasn’t much of a field agent, instead wearing suits, he pulled out his gun every so often, and a little bit of action. Waid’s Coulson, isn’t that Coulson. In a shift that isn’t quite explained (especially since this first issue seems to take place post AXIS), this Coulson is more of a gun toting action man with a plan, wearing the standard S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform, instead of his dapper suits.

The good is, this Coulson feels like a blend of what we’ve seen in the comics, and what we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic universe, blending the two into a character that makes more sense for the 616. Along for the ride are his three television teammates, all of whom I don’t believe have appeared in a comic. All of it is fun, but no matter what Waid does for writing, his voice will be co-opted literally by the actors who embodied these characters first. It’s hard to not hear Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Ian De Castecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge not utter the lines Waid has written. Also, their character personalities have been generally established, and Waid does a solid job translating all of that to the comic, especially Fitz Simmons interest in all things tech and science.

The comic itself is a one and one thing, with an entertaining self-contained story and with promises that the future will have a rotating cast of heroes coming and going, while joining the team in their adventures, the comic has a feel similar to the television series, but a bit “bigger budget.” The fact the issue is self-contained also helps it out, especially if the hopes are to bring over some of the television fans.

The first issue is really good, not quite great, with a fun read that should be interesting enough for fans of the television show.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Carlos Pacheco
Story: 7 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.2 Recommendation: Read