“S.H.I.E.L.D.” is a pretty comic, no doubt, and it’s got plenty of intellect within it, that’s obvious. It’s also relatively fun and it’s certainly something new and different. But the question now has to be asked, is it any good?
This issue takes up mere moments within a conflict that began at the very end of the first book of this title. Michelangelo stands with Leonid and delivers a little history lesson. There are tastes of the past for many characters, but none is completely illuminating. The most we find out is more of the ancestry and raising of Leonid as a baby. We see Michelangelo meet Leonardo and we see how Nostradamus was brought into the tale, but for all the extra information we gain it feels like nothing happens here. Yet things do happen; They just feel washed over.
The main problem with this series is that Jonathan Hickman is obviously a smart man, and he’s got some very cool ideas, but it’s not as apparent that he’s a good storyteller. His page structure is fine but it’s his overall arc pace that doesn’t always satisfy. It constantly asks you to keep waiting, to just hang on, and it promises, oh how it promises. This marks the eighth issue of the tale and all we know is that S.H.I.E.L.D. is really old and now it’s got structural management issues. Leonid still has yet to do anything and he’s not even acting as the eyes for the audience. He just plods along and annoys because it feels like he should be doing more and he’s not. Many readers might not mind waiting for Leonid, but many will surely have patience thinner than rice paper.
There are some great little moments hidden in this book. The strange interaction in Bendy Time is intriguing in a mystical sense that this book hasn’t tapped enough of yet. Newton’s self-assembling rapier and Michelangelo’s strange glowing orange powers tantalise, but they aren’t built upon enough to truly capture a reader.
Dustin Weaver’s art contains plenty of hyperscience in it, and you don’t struggle to understand the visuals on any of his concepts. The backgrounds hold all the detail his first arc on this book contained and there’s a sense of scope and eternity to every page. However, his characters now have more of a comic book vibe. They’re not as sketchy. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. He draws some great comic characters, but it makes “S.H.I.E.L.D.” feel more like a Marvel book and less like this independent catalogue of the true history.
This is a book built on big moments like celestial bodies; they inspire and captivate, but they don’t come close enough for inspection and they rarely interact. The majesty of intellect can’t fill a book like the warmth of storytelling and the heart of a character can. This book is starting to turn cold. While it’s still interesting in parts and can make you think, it won’t connect with you. You may be rewarded if given enough time, and you really want that final pay off to be good. But on a bi-monthly book, it’s going to be a long investment.