February 29, 2024

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Comic Review: S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects Of Forever

Jonathan Hickman offers a history of S.H.I.E.L.D. And it's been around a lot longer than it appears to have.

In Marvel Comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. and its agents have been at least background figures, saving the day in secret while more colorful heroes do their own thing.

But how long has S.H.I.E.L.D. been around?  Jonathan Hickman explored that idea in a pair of mini-series, the first of which was titled S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects of Forever.

Within the first few pages of the trade, the reader learns S.H.I.E.L.D., or just the Shield, has been around since the days of ancient Egypt when Imhotep led an army and fought off an invasion by the alien Brood, decapitating the Brood Queen with his shield, hence the name.  From there, the Shield has protected the West and pretty much every historical genius you can think of was a member, some of them alive centuries later with the help of their own scientific expertise.  Yes, the organization based in an unground city beneath Rome was largely European, but there was a reference to another, similar group in the East referred to as The Spear.

And apparently, Galileo once defeated Galactus.

However, this story is set in the 1950s when a young man named Leonid is recruited to the organization.  Leonid’s father may be a troublemaker called the Night Machine, but something went wrong with him and two agents by the names of Nathaniel Richards and Howard Stark, so that’s something else.  But the main concern, beyond a baby Celestial, is a brewing war between two factions.  On one side is the current Master of the Shield, Sir Issac Newton, and a returned Leonardo DaVinci.  DaVinci is spreading a message of meditation and preserving the world forever while Newton and his faction believe in predestination that cannot be avoided.  What all this has to do with the Night Machine, a glowing man who identifies himself on the last page, and Leonid with his weird energy powers, remains to be seen..

Aside from some small cameos and the presence of Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards, this story could have been one of Hickman’s creator owned sci-fi stories.  That’s a good thing, but sticking it in the Marvel Universe allowed Hickman to explore a bit of what made that particular place tick.  This is a lot of weird sci-fi about the history of the place that existed between superhero waves of World War II and whenever the Marvel Silver Age started.  That said, this is only about half a story (assuming I am right about there being two volumes).  So, I’ll get back to you when I read the next one.

For this one, let’s say 7.5 out of 10 dove women.