Agents of SHIELD: From Screen To Print

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Volume One of S.H.I.E.L.D. "Perfect Bullets", inspired by the television show, written by Marvel favourite writer Mark Waid (Daredevil, Hulk) and illustrated by a fantastic range of artists recently hit the shelves and I figured this would be a great time to see how the book compares to the screen whilst we wait for season 3 to air in the UK. (Any excuse to read comics, right?)

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Phil Coulson is Marvel's Harley Quinn. Once you get the image of Clark Gregg in black and red lycra out of your head I'll explain what I mean. Agent Phil Coulson of SHIELD feels like he's always been a part of Marvel comics. But he hasn't. Much like Harley Quinn, the character was invented for the screen, adored by the fans, and then adopted into the comic cannon.

First appearing in the miniseries Battle Scars, before making cameos across the Marvel universe, he since went on to become a main character in in the Secret Avengers. He's even had the obligatory Deadpool team up.

Now he has his own series and he's joined by a few other characters making their debut in the comics. Whilst there have been comics set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this SHIELD book is set squarely in the main Marvel cannon which means you get to see Coulson and co. dealing with a whole slew of superheroes that have yet to appear in the cinema, or whose movie rights belong to rival studios. We even get that Ms. Marvel team up I was hoping for in my last article.

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The Agent Coulson of the comics uses an aspect of the character that has been played down in the television series. He's a fanboy. He's one of us. That's why his "death" stung so much in the first Avengers movie. His knowledge of Superheroes and villains, their strength and weaknesses, is what sets him apart here as he uses that knowledge to pick his "perfect bullets" and call in the right superheroes to back up his agents. As he points out in issue one, it's fun when your hobby becomes your job, and fun is the key word in this series.

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Agents Fitz, Simmons and May all feature in the book and are remarkably faithful to their television counterparts. May is still a cypher, but she can kick ass. Fitz still wants his helper monkey (a back up strip by Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada is printed in the book, originally a present for the cast of the show) and it's a joy to see Fitz try to make scientific sense of the mystical side of the Marvel universe, something I can't wait to see get tackled in the movies and the show. Simmons is a little more sure of herself in the comic than she is on screen. In one issue she poses as a school teacher named Ms. Steranko, a nod to Jim Steranko who wrote the original SHIELD comics. Fans of Lola will be pleased to see her make an appearance here too.

You might have noticed that Skye doesn't appear in the first volume and that's because Daisy Johnson aka Quake is already an established part of the comics canon.

The nice thing about the comic is that Coulson is front and centre here, the other agents play less of a role in the ensemble. It would be nice if future volumes featured less cameos, and we got to see more of the SHIELD agents dealing with life in a world of super powered beings (much like we did in the superb Gotham Central - how I wish Gotham was just a straight adaptation of that series! - but the main drive here is action and adventure over character depth.

The first volume gives us a complete and self-contained narrative so fans of the series can pick this up without having to worry about the complexities of Marvel continuity - though there are plenty of fun nods and references to events in the wider comics. Each issue plays out as a stand alone story until the overall arc plot makes itself clear (much like it would on TV) and each "episode" features a guest star appearance from a super hero. It's an easy book to recommend to fans of the show that haven't ventured into comics yet and people who enjoy fast, fun and frantic comic adventures.

S.H.I.E.L.D "Perfect Bullets" is available now from all good comics retailers.

Next Week:
Jessica Jones. Luke Cage. Iron Fist. The Punisher. Damage Control. Moon Knight?
There is a lot of Marvel coming to the small screen and we'll take a look at everything on the horizon, confirmed, rumoured and speculated!

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