It has been a long time coming, but the ground-breaking series that showcased the ancient founding of SHIELD, S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hickman and Weaver, has come to an end. I have not been this excited to see a series wrap up since perhaps Secret Wars, which famously suffered a similar prolonged publishing delay. It has been awhile and I had to do a second reading of both volumes of this title to jog my memory. It is best read in my opinion as a trade or in one sitting. Hickman’s writing style is very complex and layered but rewards close attention and patience.
This issue showcases the climax of the battle for SHIELD, as LEONID, the chosen catalyst for Da Vinci’s enigmatic human machine, bridges a solution to the dichotomous philosophies fueling the SHIELD war. i.e. the philosophy that everything eventually dies or the philosophy of endless possibility. The ending was long over due but shed some thematic light on some other Hickman works within Marvel’s publications. What I loved the most about this series and this issue in particular is how so much of it was an elegant yet succinct love letter to Marvel’s cosmology. The series explored the origins of humankind, its renaissance, its future the Inhumans, Deviants and the evolutionary guidance of the Celestials all within 12 issues. What appears to be the resolution in this issue (at least from my perspective) is that Da Vinci’s machine becomes a earth-made celestial of sorts, a literal deus ex machina that resolves the conflict by creating ideal earths for the figureheads of each faction in the SHIELD conflict. Issac Newton gets his desolated apocalyptic landscape, and Da Vinci gets his Utopia of human progress.
One question that I could not get out of my head was my own speculation if the resolution in this issue was the trigger point for the multiversal incursions we saw later in Hickman’s run on the Avengers and New Avengers titles? There was some strong theme carryover particularly with the dualities of life and death, building/ planning complex structures, from a single idea and so on. I tend to judge writers on their contributions to the meta-narrative. I really have to praise Hickman for deep and lasting contributions to the Marvel mythos. From the infinity formula, to life model decoys, the SHIELD series (volumes 1 and 2) offered us a compelling and poignant origin story.
If you enjoyed this title I strongly recommend reading other works under Hickman’s pen, such as his run on the Fantastic Four or Secret Warriors which brought back Leonardo Da Vinci, and his work on Avengers and Infinity. Hickman’s stories are carefully constructed plots that are well organized, and filled with wonder, additionally they feel like pieces of a puzzle revealing a greater landscape. No other writer in my opinion has executed their vision as sophisticated as Hickman’s they are artistic products of wonder and imagination that have really fleshed out the marvel universe, I’m happy to have been along for the ride, delay notwithstanding.
Story: Jonathan Hickman Art: Dustin Weaver
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation Buy!
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review