Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Marvel Catch-Up #2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Okay. I'm kind of glad I got to start this series of articles with a comic that I'm really enjoying, because this one was awfully disappointing.

He takes up half the cover and he's not even really Iron Man.

So I'm gonna just put this out there: I am one of the only people in my circle of friends who actually loves the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. I think it's outstanding. I feel like the first half of the first season was pretty dull and everyone gave up on it, and then the show got fantastic for the next several years. I could seriously watch Quake (Chloe Bennet) do super-powered kung fu all damned day. Kyle MacLachlan as Mr. Hyde is one of the best things to happen in a superhero show EVER. Absorbing Man is just non-stop badass whenever he shows up. Fitz/Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, respectively) are my favorite couple on any current TV show, and they actually introduced the characters with the slash already in their name, which was BRILLIANT.

I know that loving the show puts me in the minority. I do know that. However, it made me the exact target market for Mark Waid's original S.H.I.E.L.D. comic series based on it. It ran for twelve issues and was so much fun. I pretty much always love Mark Waid's comics, but that series soared way above my already-high expectations. It took these new characters all over the Multiverse, it had approximately ninety-bajillion guest appearances by heroes and villains from the most mainstream to the most obscure, and it firmly cemented a Ming-Na Wen character into the Core Marvel Universe. I loved it, loved it, loved it.

And then it got replaced with THIS book.

Now, don't mistake this for me just being salty. Mark Waid moved on to writing other books and that's fine. I'll review them later, and I'm sure I'll enjoy them. I don't dislike this new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series because of some fear of change. I dislike it because... it's really sucky.

The story so far has been amazingly dull. It is just a rehash of JLA: Tower of Babel (which, incidentally, was written by Mark Waid). Agent Coulson/Batman had ideas for how to neutralize every member of the Avengers/Justice League, which are subsequently stolen and put to use by HYDRA/Ra's al Ghul. It's been done and redone in comics over the past 16 years and - despite the fact that the original comic was great - I am so over it.

Marc Guggenheim is really phoning in the writing on this comic. I'm not positive, but I think this is his first ongoing series? At any rate, I generally think of him as a TV writer, and it really shows through here. Whereas Mark Waid began his first S.H.I.E.L.D. issue in Asgard and expanded from there, Guggenheim treats his comic as though it is on a tight budget and can't afford any large set-pieces or celebrity guests. It felt like it was almost entirely people in suits talking to eachother in offices. The occasional scenes of Mockingbird or Deathlok doing superhero stuff feel like an afterthought. In the absence of actors and directors, the characters all talk exactly the same. And it is often hella sexist. It feels like all the tropey garbage that people hate about TV shows, crammed into one comic series.

The comic also - bizarrely - lacks any sort of narration, internal monologues, or even thought-balloons. It is literally all dialogue, which also lends to the feeling of watching a crappy TV show.

Germán Peralta's art on the book is like... satisfactory? It's not great, not awful. However, judging by some of the pieces on his Facebook page, it seems like he's capable of a lot more.

Honestly, the only truly nice thing I can say about this comic is that Rachelle Rosenberg does a really good job on the coloring. It makes a lot of the images pop off the page, despite the fact that they're typically just images of people standing around talking. I hope she moves on to a better comic.

So yeah. If you really want to read a comic about Agent Coulson and pals having wild adventures across the Marvel Universe, go back and read Mark Waid's. If you want to read boring bullshit scenes of Agent Fitz inexplicably sexually harassing Agent May in the workplace, you're probably not reading my blog anyway, so fuck you.

Marvel Catch-Up #0: The Introduction

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