Red Circle: The Shield #1


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Red Circle: The Shield #1


  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Scott McDaniel
  • Inks: Andy Owens
  • Colors: Tom Chu
  • Story Title: The Shield
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 27, 2009

Archie hero The Shield receives a revamp in a new one-shot under the banner of The Red Circle.

Not old enough to remember the original Archie heroes, my exposure to the Shield came in the Impact line of comics that DC published for younger readers. Sadly, the Shield was one of my least favorite in that line, and this revamp does little to change that impression. The patriotic hero is generally birthed in the context of a war, and J. Michael Straczynski plants this current incarnation of the Shield into the Afghan conflict.

The Shield is Lt. James Higgins, and the technological battle suit he wears also saved his life after his unit was hit with an RPG attack. It is a fairly generic origin story for a very generic hero, a cross between Captain America and Iron Man. Though generally the superhero reading audience is content to concede that there is little new under the sun in terms of original heroes, it is incumbent on creators to at least provide some interesting characterizations or twists on a theme to make it interesting. There is none of that in this one-shot, and though it exists as part of the larger tapestry of The Red Circle, the issue is so generic in story and devoid of anything that would inspire a reader to pick up anymore of this series.

The one attempt at a mysterious subplot involves Higgins' father. The government announces that Higgins requires no secret identity as he has no family to protect, but his father is a scientist with ties to the military. Even this revelation is fairly typical of origin stories and reads more like a parody of the genre than a legitimate attempt at sparking interest.

Scott McDaniel's art fluctuates from spectacular, as in his rendering of the war scenes, with excellent camera angle selection and bold lines, to some pretty awkward “superhero poses” with questionable anatomy. The first half of the book is of much higher quality than the second half, which feels a little rushed. The ink work and coloring is definitely of high quality, giving a good feel for the action packed story. Owens' inks are particularly good, with excellent line variation and nice doses of inks without being heavy handed.

There is no doubt that J. Michael Straczynski is a capable writer, and the craft of this comic is no exception. The problem is that the story he is telling has been done so many times before, and the main character is not a real person yet, just a standard heroic type with little to set him apart, including the generic powers his suit provides him. It is difficult to guess what DC has in mind with this new Red Circle line, and what audience they are trying to tap into with it. Unless the other books are dramatically more interesting, I can't see the project catching any traction with today's superhero audiences.

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  • BriGuy

    BriGuy Sep 4, 2009 at 7:07pm

    I agree there was nothing to this story. 100% generic. I bought it for a dollar and feel I paid too much. I think I'm gonna just give it away. The only thing of interest to me regarding the ongoing is writer Eric Trautmann (CHECKMATE, JSA VS. KOBRA). I think he can weave the character into some interesting things in the DCU. However, I have no interest in Inferno, so at most, I'll get The Shield in trades, but I'm not even sure of that.

    DC could have saved the licensing fee and just used Agent Liberty.

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