Daisy “Quake” Johnson makes her first appearance in “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the comic inspired by the television show, in issue #7 and writer Mark Waid does a fine job correlating the two existences without compromising either. Sure, some continuity fans might lose their minds on this one, but Waid doesn’t linger and moves forward doing what he does best: telling a good story with credible characters.
Greg Smallwood slides into the artist’s chair for this issue and immediately makes a very strong case to lock down the gig on a regular basis going forward. Smallwood’s art is refreshing and clean. His characters all act in the space given and follow intelligent storytelling leads, including sound effect-shaped panels, like Mister Hyde sailing through a wall in a “WHAM”-shaped sequence. This might intrude into letterer Joe Caramagna’s territory and assignment, but Caramagna is afforded plenty of space to make his presence known. The letterer works well with Smallwood’s art, keeping characters clean and uncovered while maximizing the drama of the moment through placement and typeface. Caramagna uses italics like the pro he is and also does a nice job directing story flow with connected balloons on more than one occasion.
The panels appear borderless, as Smallwood doesn’t outline them, choosing to let the negative space of the gutters and the absence of color in those gutters serve as less intrusive borders. This also opens up onomatopoeia influenced and organic panels that have brushlike edges. Flashback scenes are softer, with edges that melt into the pages they’re printed on. Making a long story short, Smallwood brings a lot of range and gives readers a comic full of gorgeous, diverse art.
As Smallwood makes a case to draw “S.H.I.E.L.D.” going forward, Guru-eFX makes a convincing bid to color Smallwood in perpetuity. The colorist follows the flow of the borderless panels with precision, adds depth to the panel backgrounds and provides Smallwood’s drawings with contours and texture. Smallwood’s characters, derived from the characters on the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” television show, are sharp, on-model likenesses, but definitely aren’t tracings. Smallwood doesn’t lock them into place, frozen through photo-referenced tracing; instead, he finds the essences of each character, but excels most at doing this with Calvin Zabo/Mister Hyde, as he is distinctly based on Kyle MacLachlan. Smallwood brings those likenesses into the Marvel Universe and breathes life into the entire adventure.
Waid has presented readers with a consistently enjoyable set of one-and-done adventures that introduce readers and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to characters across the Marvel Universe, and “S.H.I.E.L.D.” #7 is no different. This kicks off a new underlying arc and does a fine job giving readers a chance to enjoy the best of both universes in a story that takes some noteworthy twists in the interest of being fun and entertaining. “S.H.I.E.L.D.” gives readers a chance to explore the Marvel Universe from the comfortable company of the characters introduced on television and returns the favor for dedicated comic fans. As he usually does, Waid finds what makes “S.H.I.E.L.D.” a viable commodity and infuses it with rich character work and fun stories that are upbeat and easily approachable.