- Words: Jonathan Hickman
- Art: Dustin Weaver
- Colors: Christina Strain
- Story Title: Chapter One: The Unholy Resurrection of Leonardo da Vinci
- Publisher: Marvel Comics
- Price: $3.99
- Release Date: Apr 7, 2010
Posted by Jonathan Chuang on Apr 9, 2010
The secret origin of S.H.I.E.L.D. revealed!
For a long time, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been the overarching entity, uniting the separate Marvel super-teams. In recent years, since Civil War, the Marvel Universe has come to focus more on S.H.I.E.L.D., as every major story arc revolves around happenings (and often failings) in it rather than the individual super-hero teams.
Recently, S.H.I.E.L.D. has become H.A.M.M.E.R., but essentially remains the same: a force that polices the super-hero community. While the added attention to it has made it less mysterious, it remains one of the most inconsistent organizations. The acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. has changed numerous times over the years and discussion of its history and inner workings has largely been avoided. In this series, we finally get a definitive answer to all of our questions.
This title has all the major markings of an epic. Dustin Weaver’s art in this issue is fantastic. The historical establishing shots are drawn on a grand and magnificent scale that is only further enhanced by the massive attention to detail on the architecture and intricate S.H.I.E.L.D. machinery. Colorist Christina Strain does an amazing job of establishing the mysterious and dramatic nature of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the High Council pages. It’s astounding how well they can create a realistic vision of the past, while introducing fantastic elements, like Galactus, the Brood and Celestials. Somehow they are able to make this book look and feel like a work of historical fiction, rather than of fantasy.
Writer Jonathan Hickman’s story is incredible. In a story as rich in plot as this one, he relies mainly on the art, instead of explaining things with words. That was essential to maintaining this book’s mysteriousness and leaves the reader with a sense of wonder. While this book rewrites history (both comic book and actual), it gives nods to existing Marvel past. My favorite instances of this are En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse’s presence in Imhotep’s army in Ancient Egypt and Galileo’s defeat of Galactus. While the idea of historical figures, like Leonardo Da Vinci and Zhang Heng, fighting with Marvel villains and being part of S.H.I.E.L.D. sounds ridiculous, somehow Hickman and Weaver make it work.
I hesitate to make any comparisons to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602, though that seems like the most accurate representation. Like those two successes, this story changes the reader’s perception of history, (though Marvel’s instead of the real world’s). Including actual figures from history adds to the realistic appeal.
The focus is never really on the aliens that come to Earth, but the people that respond to them, making this story relatable and gives a somewhat serious tone, despite the subject matter. Also, with the amount of references to characters that exist in the present-day Marvel Universe, I wouldn’t be surprised if this series has long-lasting effects on the main continuity. You definitely don’t want to miss this!
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