In Review: The Shield #2

I'm officially hooked into purchasing the next issue.

The covers: An impressive four covers to seek out as you collect this series. The Main cover is by David Williams. It features the title character making a daring escape as she leaps from the top of a skyscraper rather than be taken in by gun toting government agents. Shield is shooting a hateful look at her pursuers as she plummets to her possible demise. The coloring is sharp, with the colors muted to create an evening environment without making things so dark as to lose any of the imagery. The first Variant is by Steve Rude. The Dude has done a sensational job showing the Shield trying to evade an overwhelming amount of gunfire from ground forces and several helicopters by leaping over a shattering fence, while returning fire with a pistol. The energy on this is spectacular and the coloring riveting. If you’ve never read any of Rude’s works, grab a copy of Nexus and be ready to fall in love. The next Variant hails from Evan “Doc” Shaner, who illustrated a fantastic take on Flash Gordon for Dynamite Comics last year. His cover shows the Shield in profile bust shot, while within her flowing hair and costume are four smaller figures of herself in various fighting stances. A super way to show the title character in action. The final Variant is by Wilfredo Torres, whose work can be found in The Shadow and Batman ’66. He has the heroine looking vexed at some unknown threat as she’s engulfed in a crumbling surrounding. I love the emotion on her face and the colors make it seem as though the setting is smoldering. Overall grades: Main A, Variant Rude A+, Variant Shaner A, and Variant Torres A

The story: As with the first issue, this installment begins in 1776. The Shield was captured last issue and is being brought to the Redcoats. The men make derogatory comments about the semi-conscious prisoner and are asked to watch their language, but one cannot help saying something else with innuendo, and is promptly shot by a superior officer. One officer, a woman, whose face is covered from the bridge of the nose down, says to the men, “Let us begin. Light the torches…and bring her to me.” This hint of peril is left as Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig’s story moves back to the present where the Shield is protecting the detective by using her body to deflect bullets from several men. What follows is a desperate escape attempt culminating in a surprising exit from helicopter. Both the heroes and villains tantalizingly giving clues about themselves with nothing specifically revealed. The frustration from the baddies’ inability to capture the women was good, because there’s nothing like seeing villains’ plans thwarted. Also impressive is where the heroes end up by the close of the book: it’s a setting reminiscent of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. What was completely unexpected and turns this issue and the previous installment upside down is the final page. But they were…Weren’t they…Shouldn’t they be…? Okay, Christopher and Wendig. You’ve officially hooked me into purchasing the next issue. I’d like to be reeled in and get some backstory to fill in the gaps that I’m missing in Shield’s past. Overall grade: A

The art: Three different artists on this issue: Drew Johnson and Ray Snyder on Pages 1 – 12 and Al Barrionuevo on 13 – 22. Impressively, there’s no dramatic change in the visuals when the change in artists occurs; which is a rare feat, as often times it can destroy a book’s appeal. The book starts strongly during the Revolutionary War. I’m completely taken by the look Johnson and Snyder have for these pages, with the mysterious bundled up woman looking sensational and the gunshot to a soldier being incredibly dramatic. The reveal of the heroine at the bottom of Page 5 is very cool. A turn of a page and an increase of over 200 years has the modern day version of Shield looking every inch the super hero as bullets ricochet off her body. The reaction to what the detective is seeing is great. The double-paged splash on 8 and 9 isn’t as powerful as it should be, though; this is due to the characters not being the focus of the image, appearing only on Page 8. Less space should have been devoted to the background and more on the characters. However, having it be a vertical image did give it a nice sense of shock. 10 and 11 are great pages, resembling a storyboard sequence for a high end action film. Page 16 had me thinking of a page by Keith Giffen from his Five Years Later run on the Legion of Super-Heroes as the heroines walk toward the reader in the dark. It’s a very effective page and creates a cinematic feel. Page 20 was an excellent reveal and I’m hoping to see more of this location in future issues. All in all, this book looks good. Overall grade: A

The colors: The 1776 sequence has an antique flavor due to the orange sky that permeates their pages. The gunshots streaking at and by the heroines at the start of the modern day section radiate energy. Kelly Fitzpatrick expertly creates the evening with dark colors, but doesn’t overdo it so as to lose the visuals. The perfect example of this is shown on the double-paged splash: blues and violets create the night, while white and yellows are employed to show lighting. Sounds pop off the page thanks to Fitzpatrick’s work. Everything done is done well. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings and narration (the same font), dialogue and transmissions (the same font), and yells are crafted by Rachel Deering. The dialogue and transmissions should be differentiated by font, and not by the shape of the dialogue balloon, while colors shouldn’t be the way to differ the scene settings and narration. Using different fonts would give another visual form for the readers to look at, and it would be a quicker clue to the different forms of communication. A few sounds look as though they were inserted by one of the artists, such as the sounds on 21. I’d like to see more done by Deering. Overall grade: B

The final line: Action and questions. Always perplexing and always entertaining. I’ll be coming back to see if some answers are given. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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