I’ve been shocked how much I’ve enjoyed the first two issues of this series.
I gotta admit that I’m a total sucker for an artist who does slick and interesting layouts. I found myself totally fascinated by the work that Marco Rudy and Mick Gray deliver here. Nearly every page of the comic breaks out of traditional panel grids and delivers something both slick and memorable.
Some moments are just clever, as in the first page of the issue, which does an interesting job of bisecting two static images with an intriguing design element. Flip over to pages two and three, though, to see an explosively exciting two-page spread that looks like a movie poster but which seems to pulse with energy.
Other pages deliver other moments that plain look interesting. On the page in which the Shield uses his power glove, the side of the page gives us a kind of cybernetic schematic of the glove. This page design serves to add an interesting sense of texture to the scene, giving the action an interesting sort of perspective.
I also really enjoyed the page in which the Shield, his ally Magog and their native guide hike over a rocky ground. Gray does a really interesting job of depicting the progress of the team over the ground, wonderfully showing the movement and relationship of each member of the team juxtaposed with each other.
The whole comic is full of clever artistic Easter eggs, whether it is the interesting way that the Shield trails energy behind him, the clever way that Gray shows the relationship between characters, or the multifaceted and intriguing page layouts that never ever seem to settle into a traditional grid.
By the time we reach the final page and are confronted with the true villain behind the evil that Magog and the Shield are battling, readers feel like we’ve been on a real journey, one in which each step has felt as important as the destination. Rudy has taken readers on an intriguing and unique ride, and we’ve gone through this story in a way that feels distinct from that of any other story that I’ve read.
Which is good, because Eric Trautmann’s story is not nearly as innovative as the art. The Shield and Magog are on a military mission to a country that’s an analogue of Iraq. They have a series of adventures before they stumble on a camp of mind-controlled soldiers. After getting their minds scrambled, the men find that the real villain is a classic DC villain.
Thank goodness for the amazing artwork, because the story wouldn’t have me coming back. But with art like this, I’d be excited to read even the most clichéd story – and this story does have some originality to it.
The back-up story featuring Inferno was also interesting. In contrast with Marco Rudy’s bright and exciting layouts, artist Greg Scott delivers a very dark art job. Inferno’s story has a touch of the noir about it. I enjoyed the way that all the characters seem to live with an eternal shroud of darkness about them. That’s an interesting choice for a character called Inferno. However, considering that Inferno can’t control his powers, the darkness seems appropriate somehow.
It’s fitting that the story has a bit of a B-movie feel to it, as we’re reading the story of man who committed acts that he didn’t want to, and whose life seems out of control.
“Inferno” is a nice companion to the lead story because the two stories provide a nice contrast for each other. The lead story is flashy; the back story has a noir feel. The lead story is about a man with the entire powers of the American military behind him, while the backup is about a man entirely alone. But both stories are about mysteries and have interesting revelations at the heart of their stories.
I’ve enjoyed the first two issues of The Shield far more than I’d expected to.