Dylan Pearl ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
LETTERING BY: Rachel Deering
PUBLISHER: Dark Circle Comics
COVER PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE DATE: Oct 21st, 2015
PREVIEW AVAILABLE: View it or Scroll Down
There are many iconic characters in comics. These are figures who have captured the collective psyche of comic fans. Perhaps they’re especially funny, or they have cool, creative powers, or the best arch nemesis. Whatever the reason, they have something special. It’s pretty easy to see, for example, why Superman is forever burned into the hearts and minds of people everywhere. But then, there are the forgettable characters–the lackluster, uninteresting side notes of comic history. The Shield, written by Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig, falls into the latter category. It is an unoriginal concept delivered in the worst possible way, creating a narrative that is boring, and worse, forgettable.
The Shield tells the story of a woman, the nameless Shield, who is the embodiment of freedom, truth and justice. She appears whenever she is needed, across time, to right wrongs and protect the innocent. But now, she’s materialized in modern day Washington DC, with no memories and no clue as to what is happening. Chased by police, and a shadowy billionaire who seems to know her, The Shield must search for clues of her identity, and figure out why she is back on Earth.
Now, it is unfair, and also lazy writing, to simply call The Shield a Captain America rip-off. Such a statement would be doing the character a disservice. She is her own person, with unique motivations, powers, and beliefs. But, it would be almost impossible to discuss this comic without addressing the star spangled elephant in the room. That is to say, the striking similarities between The Shield and a certain shield wielding Captain. The characters are definitely different; one is a World War II-era soldier given his powers via a top secret “Super Soldier Formula,” and the other is the time traveling spectral deity summoned in times of need. But when people look at these two characters, that’s not what they see. They see two similarly dressed, flag waving avatars of American exceptionalism, sworn to defeat this country’s enemies and protect the American dream.
Putting aside any jingoistic overtones, which are problematic to say the least, it’s just not that interesting. And, while it is true that The Shield appeared as a character a year before Captain America, that fact does little to change the reality that the market on America themed superheroes has been cornered. The characters went head to head, and The Shield lost. There’s no reason to bring back a second rate version, even if that version is technically the original. Captain America is the hero people remember, and that’s who they see when they look at the Shield. This is the downfall of The Shield; the character has essentially nothing else going for her. She is a one trick pony, and the trick is not very interesting, especially when there’s a bigger, more famous pony that’s been doing the trick for years.
The Shield is a strong character, powers wise, but that’s not enough. Characters need to be compelling, not just powerful, to carry a story. They need to be funny, or charismatic, or have a message they want to get out. They need to have something; it doesn’t matter what it is, the only thing that matters is that the audience cares about them. The Shield fails at this. She is, at best, a fairly bland action hero and at worst attempting to capitalize on the success of a similar hero. Her dialogue is almost entirely comprised of uninteresting, generic action hero clichés, and her actions seem to be driven by an almost compulsive need to protect the innocent. These things in and of themselves aren’t necessarily bad, and in fact could be pieces of an interesting character. The problem is that these traits are all that the Shield has. There’s nothing more to keep an audience entertained. Pair that with forgettable characters and plots full of cringe worthy clichés, and you have a deadly storytelling combination.
The story is, like it’s main character, stale. Anything, even the similarities to another character, can be forgiven if the story is good. Sadly, it’s just not. The setup has been done a million times, in a million more interesting ways, and the main bad guy, the mysterious billionaire, is so commonplace these days as to almost be a parody of himself. As unfortunate as it is to say, there is nothing redeeming about this work. It is, from start to finish, a waste of time.
Overall, this is a weak showing. Uninteresting characters and lackluster writing try desperately to keep you from thinking about Captain America, and fail. Disappointing, to say the least.