After a terrific first issue, Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver somehow managed to IMPROVE with this second issue of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
A good deal of the improvement for #2 came at the hands of artist Dustin Weaver. Weaver was very good in #1, but here he takes his art to a whole other level (colorist Christina Strain ably aids him, of course).
Just look at this amazing artwork on these opening pages from the issue...
The level of detail, fluidity and creativity is remarkable. There's not many comic book artists that could serve Hickman better in this series that Weaver.
In any event, what I found particularly interesting about this comic was the way that Hickman zigs when you would expect him to zag. After an #1 issue that served as a series of "WOW THAT IS AWESOME!" set pieces, you would think that this issue would then give us deeper explanations about SHIELD as the main plot of the story (involving Leonid, his father, Da Vinci and the rest of SHIELD) began. Instead, Hickman gets the main plot going while NOT answering many questions, and instead presenting MORE. I loved the boldness of this approach. Hickman obviously has everything mapped out for this series, so he does not feel the need to explain stuff so soon - and I find that confidence pretty inspiring, really. He's going to forge ahead, and it's up to him to make the story so compelling that we'll march on with him even though we're not getting solid answers.
And he does so in this issue, as the whole set-up is so intriguing how could you NOT keep reading? Weaver's brilliant artwork certainly helps in this regard, of course, as there are a few pages where he just blows the reader's mind, like when we see exactly what kind of structure Leonid and Da Vinci are standing on or when Nathanial Richards makes contact with the Dark Man. Visually stunning pages.
While Hickman does not give us full details, he does give us the basic idea of what Da Vinci's problem is, and the conflict presented IS, as I said, a compelling one. "These men have stood on my shoulders for too long."
I cannot wait for the next issue.