S.H.I.E.L.D #1 may not have the captivating, innovative art that characterized the government agency’s book back when Jim Steranko was illustrating, but it is blessed to have the medium’s most knowledgeable writer at the helm in Mark Waid. Combined with the consistently excellent art of Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Mariano Taibo (inks), and Dono Almara (colors), and Marvel has successfully produced another solid first issue that is inviting to readers from all walks of life. The creative team takes what could have been a comic version of the show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and instead turns it into a fun romp through the greater Marvel universe.
Readers going into S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 expecting a thrilling tale of espionage will come away disappointed, so those expectations should be cast aside. From the opening page, Waid establishes lead character Phil Coulson as someone in love with the heroes of Marvel. As a child, he studied the Human Torch and Namor. While his peers were partying in college, he was taking diligent notes on the Hulk and the Fantastic Four. His lifelong fascination with the world’s protectors led him to a position where he works with them first-hand.
The child-like wonder Coulson displays as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a great entry-point for readers. The Marvel Universe is a landscape filled with wonders. Wisely, Waid’s script sees Coulson and his team interact with nearly every major player in the Marvel Universe, and even some minor ones. It not only allows readers to view in awe the scope and depth of Marvel’s heroic roster, but it also shows the value that Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. lend to a world where Iron Man and Captain America are the headliners.
The script’s large cast also enables Carlos Pacheco to put together several awe-inspiring spreads. Pacheco is does not get mentioned nearly enough in the conversation of top artists working today, but his efforts in S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 prove that he deserves to be part of the conversation. Not only does he handle big, popcorn action well, but he also gives the necessary weight to the issue’s “quieter” sequences. Dono Almara’s varied color palette further brings this world to life through a combination of earth tones with vibrant shades interspersed throughout.
S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 is a solid first issue that anyone can pick up. Waid and his art team invite readers to follow a cast of characters that lack marquee value, but make up for it with personality and chemistry. The issue’s structure sees a complete story told in the space of 30 pages while laying the seeds for a greater, overarching narrative should be enticing for readers looking to try something a little different. Even with the $4.99 price tag, it’s not a painful price to bear during this light week.
Note: This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com