Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Dustin Weaver
THE FINALE TO THE FIRST VOLUME OF S.H.I.E.L.D.! This chapter comes to a close in a fashion that will have your jaw on the floor. It is Da Vinci vs. Newton with the fate of the world in the balance. Who is the Night Machine on the side of? What role will the Celestial Child play? The most talked about book of 2010 closes its first volume with a bang. But don’t worry, the same team will be back soon with volume 2!
SHIELD has been – without a doubt – one of the most entertaining and unique comic books Marvel has put out in the past year. Blending history with their own myth, Marvel has let Hickman take the fantastic task of trying to meld the insanity that is the Marvel universe and make it more relevant to our own. In essence, they’re trying to stay true to their slogan: “Marvel… your universe.” With last issue featuring the great reveal that Nikola Tesla – the scientist that science fanboys love to sciencebate over – what could possibly come next to top that?
Oh, you have no idea. Click behind the cut to hear some thoughts on the end of the first volume.
Jonathan Hickman initially made a name for himself with the clever stories contained in his original creator owned work for Image. Books like Nightly News and Pax Romana made a name for him quicker than it would most, but in a completely understandable way. SHIELD has been the first title Hickman has written for Marvel that feel as clever and unique as those books did, but the amazing thing is the intricacy of how they tied to the Marvel Universe. The first five issues saw hidden cameos and references galore, and now that we have the sixth issue we see the elements Hickman has been slowly (and expertly) weaving come to fruition as all Hell breaks loose.
This issue centers around the war between Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci’s two sides. As Leonid stands (quite literally) in the middle, we’re also given a flashforward to Richards, Stark, and Tesla trapped in the future, leading to not only a huge tease but quite the epic pay off for history and art fans. Hickman largely uses the issue as tremendous foreshadowing to the future volume of SHIELD (coming out at a “to be determined” date), but underneath it all is stark commentary towards our real world that is rather impossible to notice. Lines like the following make it rather impossible to notice the underlying message Hickman writing:
Mysterious Character: It is the one fight that cannot be avoided. … a war of ideas. Can you tell me why they are wrong, Leonid?
Leonid: They build walls around what they believe.
Mysterious Character: Yes. And together we must tear them down.
In fact, in doing so this helps to blur the line between our history and Marvel’s. It is rather impossible to notice most writers infusing quiet political undertones into most of their works, and Hickman wears some of this thoughts on his sleeve towards the end of the issue. Of course, watching the scene play out whilst Da Vinci and Newton clash swords behind the two characters does make this all the more poignant.
Hickman and Weaver make a great pairing, even a force to be reckoned with. Hickman’s quick paced storytelling matched with Weaver’s “camera” choices offer up a visual feat in the story. Scenes such as Richards and Stark returning to the future as well as Leonid entering into the fray are huge and stunning moments that really draw the reader into the book. The subtle focus on Nicola Tesla’s part in the story is also wildly entertaining, and inadvertently leads to not only the biggest moment of the issue but arguably one of the biggest pay-offs of the series so far. This is a big comic that is well worth multiple reads, and the amazing bit about it is that it doesn’t feature one cape or tight. While it certainly is a “superhero” story to an extent, for all intense and purposes, the story simply features people using the abilities science affords them to master their world. With Hickman and Weaver behind the scenes guiding the characters along this path, you certainly have a surefire win of a read.Continued below
Ultimately, anyone who appreciates both the intricacies of the Marvel Universe as well as has a deep appreciation for our own history should feel right at home in this book. While this issue does miss the Hickman touch of added prose pages and design layouts, it’s still a great way to end the first part of the story with a bang. Watching intense historical figures get reshaped into characters and heroes/villains within the Marvel Universe has been incredibly entertaining, and their ties to one of the most important organizations in the Marvel Universe is what makes this comic so special to follow. This isn’t just your average superhero throwdown – this comic is quite literally history in the making. With it’s obvious ties to Hickman’s other work (making a wonderful cohesive element between the creator’s contributions to Marvel’s canon) as well as the seedlings of elements that will almost certainly pay-off elsewhere in the Marvel U, SHIELD is literally about as exciting as it gets.
Final Verdict: 9.8 – Buy