by Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado
First in the films, then on television and now into the comics, the adventures of Phil Coulson and his team sure have covered some ground. Though that is not the conventional way of things in the world of publication and media, it has seemed to do just fine for this squad. It will be interesting to see just how far their zany stories take them in the comics, and just how many of those who are not watching the television series pick up the comic book. In S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second issue, Jemma Simmons and Phil Coulson visit a school in search of some villainous artifacts. Waid and Ramos are an exciting pairing on any book, and there is certainly some great material in the issue.
For many, this may be the first time seeing the young Ms. Marvel outside of her natural environment. For fans of the series, it is a bit strange to see Kamala drawn by a different artist, and written by someone other than G. Willow Wilson. Despite the craft of both creators, there is always an adjustment to seeing a younger character show up in another storyline. It is as a result that Kamala’s first appearance in the story does not necessarily give any acknowledgement of her presence. Simmons has gone undercover at a school, and Kamala just happens to be in the room. A series of items have been pilfered recently and the SHIELD team are working to retrieve them without alerting the student body. Waid does a good job mixing the dialogue across means of technology. Blending dialogue, intercepted texts and messages between the agents, the initial moments of the operation are already exciting.
Suddenly, chaos erupts as one of the items, a glove belonging to The Wizard bursts through the wall and darts about, smashing through anything in its path. The following pages are a blur of energy as the story splits into directions as Coulson, Kamala and Simmons all work to fix this disaster. Waid makes an interesting distinction in the issue to have the characters fighting to stop the destruction, but for different reasons and not even in conjunction. While Kamala is worried for her classmates, Coulson is focused on the mission and even tries to keep Kamala sidelined. Ramos puts some incredibly high-octane images into play as the action spills out in all directions. His pencil work along with the art team of Olazaba and Delgado present an amazing kinetic and fun adventure in the halls of this school. The threat is serious, though the tone of the issue never quite gets there. It is unclear if that is the intention of the creative team or a result of the visuals from Ramos. Either way, the mission and conclusion certainly entertain.
There are some curiosities in this issue as it has Kamala written and drawn outside of her native series, and the characters of the Marvel television series depicted by other creators. As a result, not all elements align and one moment where Coulson suggests that sacrifices, even high-schoolers, may need to be made, feels awfully strange. Fortunately, the book-endings of the second issue of S.H.I.E.L.D. are great. The opening moments dealing with Jemma’s double life and how that echoes to the young hero in Kamala feature great character work. Readers are left to reflect on the lonely life this creates for the individuals and it is a consideration few writers bring to the forefront in this big action stories. Waid finds time to not only carry out the A-plot, but work in some great development for Jemma and Kamala as well, making the issue a solid production.