The Shield #1
Writer – Eric Trautmann
Pencils – Marco Rudy
Inks – Mick Gray
Letters – Sal Cipriano
Colors – Art Lyon
Publisher – DC Comics
(Heads up – there are a couple of spoilers in this review – nothing that I think will take away from the comic if you read it, but I wanted to warn you, just in case you hate any spoilers at all!)
You may have heard that the Red Circle characters were coming to DC. You may not have had a clue what that meant. Then, you may have heard the Archie super heroes were coming to DC. You may have wondered how Jughead in a cape was going to be folded into the modern DC Universe.
For me, though, when I saw the characters, I thought, “Hey, those are the Mighty Crusaders coming to the DC Universe!”
And, that is when I got excited.
See, when I was but a young geek, I had the action figures of the Mighty Crusaders. My family wasn’t exactly rolling in the dough, so when it came to little chunks of overpriced plastic (ie, action figures), I didn’t have all that many. When the Mighty Crusaders came out, though, they were significantly cheaper than other figures.
And thus, I had them.
In all honesty, I didn’t know much about the characters at the time, and very often used the Shield as Captain America and the Web as Spider-Man (which, admittedly, was a bit of a stretch), but I came to really like the toys, and eventually learned about the actual characters and enjoyed them a lot.
Which is one of the heartbreaking things about revival of these characters at DC.
A little while back, they issued four one-shots of the Shield, the Web, the Hangman, and the Inferno (again, I admit, I was less familiar with the Hangman and the Inferno… because they weren’t members of the Mighty Crusaders), and I bought all four.
Sucker that I am.
The one-shots were pretty crummy, and connected, which meant that if you didn’t get all four, you were missing out on the story. And, if you did get all four, you just felt ripped off.
When the ongoing Shield book was announced, though, I thought I’d give it a chance. The one-shot, while not great, was probably the best of the four, and I was able to get the first issue at a great discount. (In case you haven’t noticed in my previous postings, I’m cheap.) Even if it was crummy, I could pass it along to someone else (Christmas is coming, and I find comics make great padding in packages being sent out!).
I was glad I had read the one-shot in preparation for this first issue of the ongoing. I’m pretty sure I would’ve gotten the gist regardless, but knowing the Shield was an injured soldier, saved by experimental technology via his suit, helped.
In the story, the Shield is sent to locate some Special Ops Units that have gone missing. Unfortunately, they’ve gone missing in an area that is particularly sensitive about costume-clad heroes coming in – the Bialya/Kahndaq border.
(In case you didn’t know – and, spoilers for 52 here – Black Adam, at the death of his wife, Isis, went nuts and killed everyone in Bialya… which explains the sensitivity in the region)
After speaking with the Mullah of the local village, the Shield is led to the location where the missing men are likely being held… and is attacked!
Not by the insurgents, though. He is being attacked by the missing men!
While trying to keep the men from killing the boy that led him to the location, and keeping the boy from killing the men as well, the scene is interrupted by Magog!
Ooh, exciting… except, not so much. This big reveal of a guest star from the DCU in the next issue was… disappointing.
Up to that point, the comic was really intriguing. First off, it had a great feel. If I had to describe it, it would be a nice blend of Captain America, with a bit of Iron Man thrown in. There was definitely a nice military feel, and the Shield was definitely presented as a soldier, but there was also the science fiction element of the suit thrown in.
Even having the men attack the Shield was a bit unexpected, and let the reader wonder what was really going on. But, then, Magog was shoe-horned into the book. And, personally, not being a fan of that character, I was immediately deflated by his appearance.
More than a personal like/dislike of Magog, though, I found that the introduction of a DC guest star was a little early. This book needs the chance to establish what it is before throwing guest appearances in, especially guest appearances from d-level characters. (I’m just saying – who buys a book by seeing Magog on the cover? “Ooh, look, Magog! Gotta have it!”)
The art throughout the story was good, and fitting for the book. Perhaps a little too clean, but that could just be that it had the same feel as the most current run of Captain America, and the art style there is darker, which in turn makes me feel that maybe this should be as well.
Along with the Shield in this book, though, we are also given the back-up (I don’t care if you call it a co-feature or a second feature, DC, it is still a back-up) of the Inferno.
I won’t go into the story there. I read it, and it was “eh” – plenty forgettable and I don’t think it paired well with the main character in the book. The art was fine, but nothing extraordinary.
So, what is the verdict? Well, sadly, The Shield has three strikes against it. Strike one – the abrupt, unnecessary, and unwanted inclusion of a guest star right at the end. Strike two – the Inferno second feature really brought down the momentum established in the main feature of the book. And, strike three – cover pricing a new, unestablished book at $3.99? Really, DC, what are you thinking? Kill the back-up story and bring this in at $2.99!
Even with the strikes, though, I really enjoyed most of the first issue. For that reason, I’m giving the book two and a half Running Steves.
When it is collected as a trade, I might pick it up, but it didn’t pull me in enough to buy every month.
Tags: action figure, Archie, art, Captain America, Captain Hero, Cipriano, Circle, Comic, Comics, Crusaders, DC, Eric, Gray, Hangman, Inferno, Iron Man, Jughead, Lyon, Magog, Marco, Mick, Mighty, Mighty Crusaders, Red, Red Circle, Remco, Rudy, Sal, Shield, Spider-Man, Super Teens, The Shield, the web, Trautmann