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Home » Uncategorized » How to get into comics: The best modern S.H.I.E.L.D comics
Saturday, 23 Nov 2013

How to get into comics: The best modern S.H.I.E.L.D comics

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How to get into comics: The best modern S.H.I.E.L.D comics

By Will M.

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Someone came in the store I work at occasionally and asked if we had some S.H.I.E.L.D comics. I gathered it was because of the show on TV and I turned out to be right. But that meant I had very little to recommend her because as Jim Steranko, longtime Nick Fury artist, said, the television show is not really what S.H.I.E.L.D is all about (http://www.newsarama.com/19028-jim-steranko-slams-agents-of-s-h-i-e-l-d-premiere.html). So I would like to take this opportunity now to let you know what S.H.I.E.L.D is like in comics and what comics you could pick up if you are interested in reading more S.H.I.E.L.D.

S.H.I.E.L.D is an espionage book. They are usually pre-emptive and fight criminal organizations from the shadows, before these organizations annihilate us all (thanks S.H.I.E.L.D). So it’s reading about an ongoing war that is kept secret from media and the public (the words secret and war will come up a lot in this article). The enemies are usually terrorist groups like AIM, Hydra, the Shadow Council, Communists/Nazis, other remnants from World War 2 and inside threats. These are not the most bombastic comics and usually start quite slowly.  They are more Tom Clancy than Ian Flemming.

So tell me, does that sound like the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D TV show? Here are a few recent books that can give you a clear understanding of S.H.I.E.L.D within the current Marvel Universe.

 

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Secret Wars by Brian Michael Bendis

You may not care, but this book obviously wins the best art award from all the books on this list. Gabriel Del’Otto is an Italian painter who doesn’t speak much English and is inspired by renaissance artists rather than classic comic art. Although popular heroes are used in this comic, they act as agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the comic plays out like a S.H.I.E.L.D comic should, with Nick Fury selecting a team and giving them a black ops mission in Eastern Europe. This is what I ended up recommending to the customer since this trade contains one succinct story.

 

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Secret Warriors by Jonathan Hickman (pardon the pun, the book is called Secret Warriors)

This is actually a very long series detailing the war that is secretly happening behind the scenes in the Marvel Universe between Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra. This is by far the most S.H.I.E.L.D-like comic on this list. The fact that most characters apart from Nick Fury are new makes it very easy to jump in, though I would recommend reading Secret War first since that introduces on of this series other main characters. The art is pretty good too and the book features Gorgon, one of my favourite Marvel Villains: a master martial artist with a gaze that can turn you to stone (why does he need to also be a master martial artist?). It has been collected in one giant omnibus and I would suggest getting that since the series must be read in full if you want anything resembling an ending.

 

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Shield by Jonathan Hickman

Even though it’s called S.H.I.E.L.D, this series actually has little to nothing to do with Nick Fury or the S.H.I.E.L.D we know (and love?). This is actually about a secret society made of the Earth’s greatest minds protecting the world for generations. For example, Galactus actually came to Earth during the Italian renaissance, good thing Gallileo was around to destroy him! So far, only one trade has come out and it didn’t really give us an ending, so fair warning.

 

Captain America Winter Soldier vol 1 and 2 by Ed Bruebacker

Though the S.H.I.E.L.D tv show is not very representative of the comics, the second Captain America movie is. Captain America was indeed an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, which makes sense since his duty was always to his country and him and Nick Fury go way back to World War II (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that in the comics, Nick Fury fought in WWII and has been drinking a magic potion to stay alive and “young” all these years, but that is never really brought up). Even though Captain America is the hero of this series, I would say that before Secret Warriors, this was the main book to follow what S.H.I.E.L.D was up to since the organization and Nick Fury play a big role in this series, and Cap acts on their behalf. Also, this story does serve as the inspiration for the Cap 2 film (right down to its title) and if you keep reading the series from there you get the ultimate American enemy when the bodies of a Nazi general and a communist warlord merge together.

 

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Secret Avengers by Ed Bruebacker and Warren Ellis

I mention Nick Fury a lot, because he is synonymous with S.H.I.E.L.D, but for a while (and even as this article is being written), he was not S.H.I.E.L.D’s director. For a time, Steve Rogers (Captain America) was. His costume changed (and looks identical to the costume he wears as a S.H.I.E.L.D agent in the second Captain America film) and he had a team of covert Avenger agents assist him as he organized pre-emptive strikes against the Shadow Council.

Actually, the entire run of Secret Avengers from issue 1 to 35 is about a team of avengers vs the Shadow Council (and later robots) but Steve Rogers is leader of S.H.I.E.L.D for the first 3 trades.

Out of what is available, the two trades I would recommend are Secret Avengers, Vol. 2: Eyes of the Dragon Secret Avengers and Vol. 3: Run the Mission, Don’t Get Seen, Save the World.

In Eyes of the Dragon, their mission is to stop the Shadow Council and the Celestial Order of Hai-Dai from resurrecting Shang-Chi’s dad, who is one of the most evil warlords to have ever lived. Since Marvel does not have the rights to the character’s name (and the character himself), they rely on fans to remember that Shang-Chi’s dad is actually the infamous Fu Manchu. So yeah, that story is about Steve Rogers and his Avenger agents stopping Fu Manchu from resurrecting.

The other trade is one of the best trades ever published by Marvel. They are all one and done stories of special op missions operating behind the scenes and stopping world threats before we ever know of them. The tag line for each issue was:  Run the mission, don’t get seen, save the world.  Enjoy!

Captain America was not the only popular marvel character to be head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Norman Osbourne (Green Goblin) also were, but the comics detailing their tenure at S.H.I.E.L.D lost the tone and followed more the super hero tropes than the covert special ops approach that S.H.I.E.L.D comics are known for.

 

After reading these issues, you will be pretty well versed in what S.H.I.E.L.D is supposed to be like and you will be the judge is Jim Steranko was right after all.Thanks
for reading, As always,I hope it was helpful. Leave any question or request for particular articles like this in the comments at info@ComicBooksFTW.com . You can also catch me on twitter @WillMorizio

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