Last month when reviewing issue #2 of The Shield I had great praise for Marco Rudy’s terrific artwork, heaping praise on Rudy for the massive number of Easter eggs and clever page layouts that Rudy delivered. Unfortunately this issue doesn’t have quite the same amount of whizzbang Easter egg fun that the previous two issues gave us.
I have to wonder if part of that comes from the involvement of Eduardo Pansica with the art. Pansica wasn’t involved in previous issues, and his presence has to make me wonder if Rudy is finding the monthly grind too heavy to manage. That’s a shame, because Rudy’s art really is a lot of fun, and adds a certain level of flash and excitement to this comic that would otherwise not be present.
The big villain this issue is Gorilla Grodd, and Gray delivers a wonderful take on the giant, mind-controlling ape. I love the fierce look on Grodd’s face on the pages below. This is an ape that shouldn’t be messed with, that’s for sure!
And Gray does deliver some pages that are full of clever and intriguing layouts – notice how nicely the page below helps to add to the chaos and energy in the scene that it describes.
I love the slick and intriguing layout of the page below. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an image of characters falling through panels used in this way (the closest I can remember are some pages from Ditko’s “Doctor Strange” stories). It’s cool and clever and adds nicely to Eric Trautmann’s story.
But where the previous two issues were crammed full of intriguing page layouts like these, too many pages in this issue are full of standard, dull layouts. The second half of the lead story in this issue just sucks away all the steam and energy that was provided in the first half of the issue. There’s a scene in the second half in which two military groups confront each other that just feels boring and dull and confusing, all the more so in contrast with what has come before.
See, this comic really doesn’t work for me in quite the same way without the slick artwork all the way through. The story is a fairly rote super-hero story, complete with the very annoying Magog, in a battle against Gorilla Grodd and his Iraqi ally. There’s no good reason for Grodd’s presence in Iraq that I could discern, nor do we readers get a deep sense of what these characters are all about. I get that the Shield is a military man, and that his military background informs all his actions, but that in and of itself isn’t enough to make a compelling comic.
If a character like the Shield is ever going to be anything more than a second-rater, he needs something to separate him from the rest of the heroes in DC’s line. The amazing art in the first two issues was a real differentiator, but without the slick artwork, the Shield feels like just another loser. He’s got a slightly different attitude and interests, but that’s not enough in these days of high comic prices and crammed racks on comic stores.
The backup feature, “Inferno”, also features a loser – but the fact that he’s a loser is pretty much the point of the story. This story is kind of a noir chase across the state of Colorado, as a guy with fire powers is chased by the Feds and a group of villains. The story is compelling when read as a whole, though less so as a standalone story. The tale this issue has a transitional feel to it, as it takes a breath of air before what promises to be a big action scene.
The Shield without special artwork exists in that sort of uninteresting middle ground – neither especially compelling nor fascinatingly bad. Here’s hoping we get more Mick Gray next month.