S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 (OF 6)

Review by: TheNextChampion

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.0
Users who pulled this comic:
Users who reviewed this comic:
Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Dustin Weaver
Colors by Sonia Oback, Rachelle Rosenberg & Christina Strain
Letters by Todd Klein
Cover by Gerald Parel

Size: 0 pages
Price: 2.99

I was all ready to finally drop this mess of a series once and for all. Jonathan Hickman is one of the most creative writers out there and a comic about some of the greatest scientific minds in the world duking it out like an episode of DragonBall Z got me very excited. But for two (mini) volumes and with this fourth issue staring at me, I just found myself not caring. But then Hickman did something interesting: He decided to tie this into his Fantastic Four run. Maybe he is, and maybe he isn’t; but the last two issues of Fantastic Four and FF hint at something tying into this series. So once again, I am at the mercy of Hickman for another issue.

Of course the same problems occur with this issue as in any other. I find myself confused on what exactly is going on and in turn finding very little reason to care. Something about the ‘Three Brothers of Causality’ are revived and the gang has to stop Issac Newton for…..some reason. (Seriously, ever since he went in his Legion of Superheroes Time Bubble I still don’t know what his plan is. He can’t screw with them if he goes to the future) It is unthinkable to me that a story involving any form of time travel is boring. I love time travel stories, always have since the day I watched ‘The Time Machine’ (1960s; Rod Taylor in that shirt that always exposed his hairy chest at a given moment) when I was a kid. But Hickman is so caught up in the ideas in this that he doesn’t tell a coherent story. The ending in particular is particularly baffling because it is never explained nor handled very well. I like the idea of showing different realities of the gang witnessing the Marvel universe future. But I have no idea which is the one I should pay attention and just why Hickman decided to go that route for half of the book. I honestly thought it was a printing mistake for a second, and that isn’t good.

The art by Dustin Weaver, like always, is the only saving grace of this whole thing. While this is a jumbled up mess, the various things Weaver has to draw and ink is always amazing to look at. He’s essentially has to draw different environments and backdrops in almost every page. Considering the second half of the book is all about alternate realities I can only imagine the panic attack he must have had reading the script. But he knocks it out of the park as always. But the style of his art isn’t as crisp as it once was. That’s large in fact to the three different colorists that come in. It makes sense to have different colorists for the ending and it makes it look better. But it feels as though the colorists are all over the book instead of the desired portion. So when you see one page of the group preparing to time travel, and then another of a more crisp and cleaner look right next to it; it is a bit jarring. I can’t say who did what because their styles are not that different to see a difference.

I know I should have dropped this mini by now but I just couldn’t help it. Hickman’s slight hints of this title MAYBE crossing over to Fantastic Four was enough for me to continue. But this issue continues to show the major problems I have with it. The plot is confusing and Hickman does very little for me to find reasons to care. I’ve being reading this thing for almost two years now and I still don’t know why Newton is the baddie or why Leonid is integral to the whole thing. I know I cannot be the only one in this boat of confusion. But the art by Weaver, as poor as the coloring can be at times with three colorists is, is gorgeous enough for me just to force myself into finishing this. I mean there’s only two more issues left to go. How much more confusing can this possibly get?

Story: 2 - Average
Art: 4 - Very Good


  1. Newton is the baddie because he believes in fate and inevitable, linear progression. He doesn’t believe in free will all that much, which is sort of scary. And he wants to seize power to bend the SHIELD organization to his philosophy.

    Leonid is integral because he’s the next “chosen one”-type on whom SHIELD has spent an awful lot of time and resources training. And Leonid is also important because of his heritage (you didn’t miss that a few issues ago, did you?).

    That’s not to say Hickman is handling this well. He isn’t. I don’t care about the characters; they are empty ciphers. At first the premise seemed very interesting, and in Vol. 1 Hickman’s oblique references to things like “the quiet math” or “the silent truth” seemed intriguing. But eventually there proved to be very little actual content or depth behind these phrases. It all seems very hollow now. Actually, most of Hickman’s work seems hollow to me (though usually interesting nonetheless). I don’t notice the hollowness in FF so much, probably because I’m unconsciously projecting classic characterizations on all the FF family members that I know so well. But, yeah, SHIELD has gotten kind of crappy and is showing all of Hickman’s weaknesses. It is not a smooth read.

    You can take the time to understand it, though. It gets much better with a couple readings. It’s worth rereading a few issues in a row–they really improve that way. That’s not to say “it reads better in trade”; what’s really key are rereadings, more so than blazing through the whole thing all at once. The narrative isn’t great but the ideas are worth thinking about.

    I agree with your “2” rating for the writing, but after a certain point I think your complaints say more about your own lack of reading comprehension than they say about the comic. It isn’t an easy comic to read, but it’s not as difficult as you’ve made it for yourself. And there are parts of it that really are unexplained and pointless, but it’s not as incomprehensible as you’re making it sound, just because you don’t want to try take the effort to read a more literary comic. If you don’t remember what’s happening or who the characters are, then as a reviewer you should go back and read previous issues. Otherwise what’s the point of even reviewing it? After a point you’re only doing it out of habit and saying: “Yep. Look at me. I still didn’t go back and try to understand stuff I couldn’t understand the first time. Or the time before that. I’ve had another two months between issues. But I’m just going to bang my head against a wall again and complain about it, blame Hickman again, rather than taking the simple steps necessary to resolve my cognitive dissonance.”

    C’mon, man. You’re better than that. You’re one of the best writers here. Better than some of the staff. And you shouldn’t be using cliches like “knocks it out of the park”, either. :-/

    • Here’s my problem though with the series: Even with re-reading it a bunch of times, I still find myself confused on what to care about. Hickman has explained himself in the book on why Leonid is important and what Newton’s overall plan is. But he writes it so flimsy that you immediately forget about it the next issue. That and before re-reading in chunks, a bi-monthly wait doesn’t help keep the memory in tact from issue to issue.

      Second…..I use ‘knocks it out of the park’ more then usual so that’s one of my resolutions in 2012 to not use cliches like that.

  2. Can someone explain to me the reference of the “Future Marvel” timeline as they were time traveling. I’m talking about the panel where the sentinel is killing old Wolverine. I’m guessing that;s from the “Days of Future Past.” But who are the persons holding hands? Is that Franklin Richards and Hope? Who’s under the Doom mask, Valeria? Are this obscure references something I’ve missed in the Marvel continuity or are this references to Hickiman’s future plans? Thanks

Leave a Comment