The Shield #1 CoverThe Shield #1

Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig (script), Drew Johnson, Rachel Deering, Kelly Fitzpatrick (art), David Williams (cover)
Dark Circle Comics
October 21, 2015
Review copy provided by Dark Circle Comics

The Shield is the latest reboot of a classic Archie Comics superhero, from their Dark Circle Comics imprint. Originating in 1940, four months before Captain America’s first appearance, The Shield mantle has been used by at least four previous characters and has been passed through ownership of  multiple publishing houses. In his first iteration, Joe Higgins was a chemist who discovered a super-soldier formula, which he used to become The Shield, an FBI agent, avenge his father’s death, and to fight Nazis. As The Shield kept rebooting, he was a soldier, and one incarnation, Lancelot Strong, was conceptualized by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Back at the original house of Archie, the current version of The Shield was announced in July 2014, with the writing team of Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig and sleek new design by Wilfredo Torres. For the first time, The Shield name would be used by a woman, Victoria Adams. Finally, over a year after she was revealed, the first issue is printed. The Shield is now a super strong amnesiac with a patriotic flair. The staffers have shared their thoughts below.

What were your initial thoughts?

Kat Overland: I felt pretty let down; this was a book I’ve been looking forward to for probably about a year and it came out bland. Amnesia, super strength, punching, and getting hit by cars are all things that in theory interest me, but the way they played out felt incredibly tired. If you read the initial Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto run of Ghost, then you’ve already read a prettier, funnier version of this, although I guess it doesn’t have that American patriot slant to it.

Ardo Omer: I was let down. Period. We’ve been waiting for The Shield to debut what felt like FOREVER, especially because it was going to be Dark Circle’s first female led comic. The story was all exposition with the heavy handed American patriotism that came across cheesy rather than inspiring. The art was mundane. It felt like DC house style to me which isn’t something you want if the goal is to be a superhero book that stands out among other superhero books.

Megan Purdy: I feel sad. It’s a bad comic in an utterly mundane way. I can’t even be angry about it because its badness is so average. As a debut, this issue is a disaster. It crams in info dumps, mytho-patriotism and free-floating character development. The action of the story is run, punch, lie, yell, climb, punch. It zips by without connection to the exposition or characters, as if the comic is running on two different scripts. And the exposition itself is uninteresting, the concepts dulled down by a lack of connective material: a superhero who isn’t heroic; amnesia and rebirth; something something America. Where is the part that makes it all come together? Where is the space to breathe, to think, and to get to know this character? Sorry, there’s run, punch, lie, yell, climb, punch, actioning to do.

TheShield_01-3Did the hype help it or hurt it?

Kat: Definitely hurt; I would have been more amenable to rolling with a mediocre first issue if I hadn’t been waiting anxiously for it for so long. I wasn’t blown away by, say, The Fox’s newest introduction either, but was more willing to give it a chance as he hasn’t been such a marketing point as a new! exciting! direction! for Dark Circle.

Ardo: I don’t think the comic could’ve been better with less hype or if it had come out when it was initially expected to. I will say that the hype did add a heavy blow to the experience.

Megan: It’s not a good comic. Expectations are irrelevant as far as that goes; they’re only important insofar as how we feel about it. Which is bad, all around.

Comments on the art?

Kat: Like Ardo said, it felt mundane. After seeing amazing promo images, I was hoping for a clean, modern take on The Shield, something that matched the sleek costume. While she didn’t make it into the suit in issue one, the art looked muddy instead of darkly atmospheric. I felt like the layouts were trying to be interesting, but none really had clear flow for me to follow.

Megan: Serviceable, I guess, though I can’t now recall anything that caught my eye.

How does making The Shield a woman change the narrative, if at all?

Ardo: I didn’t read the original, so I can’t make the comparison. Speaking strictly in terms of female superheroes, I don’t think it would change it all that much when you have characters like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel out there.

Kat: I’m not sure where they’re taking her historysince we start with a flashback to colonial days, are they retconning out the old Shield? The tone of her inner-monologue feels like it’s trying to hard to sound like a hip young woman, which is weird when she’s supposed to be an amnesiac.

Megan: Like Kat and Ardo I’m not sure what making The Shield a woman really means for the comic. I’m not sure what the comic even wants to be. This was such a muddled first issue that I’m loathe to make any predictions about where it’s going, or judgements about what it hopes to accomplish.

Do you want to read another issue, and why?

Ardo: No. There’s nothing about the comic that’s offering me something different. It was also not great in its narrative execution both in terms of art and in writing. Honestly, I would rather wait for The Web.

Kat: I don’t really think sonothing about this feels fresh. I think I might pick it up once she gets into a suit, but if it continues to be this confused then there’s not a lot there to entice me.

Megan: Nope. But I’m willing to read a couple more to see if it gets better.