Suggested Reading Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
(Secret War 2004 Limited Series, Secret Warriors Volume 1 Issues #1-#28)
Fans were split on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in its early days. While the series had interesting ideas in showing how S.H.I.E.L.D. operates, a procedural adventure series without superheros ended up dividing the fan base. Fans hoping for appearances from The Avengers were let down by the lack of costumes and fans expecting a dark spy drama were disappointed with the more lighthearted feel of the story. However once S.H.I.E.L.D. fell in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, things shifted and many found themselves locked into the series.
Now the series has evolved into something almost unrecognizable from its early episodes. Now we follow the rebuilding of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the search for Enhanced individuals all over the world. The series works as a way of building more onto this universe between films, giving us an idea of the scope involved.
For this reason, I have had trouble suggesting books to my friends, as there are so many aspects to take into consideration. I have found myself asking people what characters or storyline they enjoy most about the show and had to offer different answers based on their response. So for the purpose of this article, I will be focusing on S.H.I.E.L.D. itself and doing separate articles for the other elements that have gotten so much attention.
It’s hard to believe that in the Marvel Comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. has only in the last decade or so taken on the role we see in the movies. An international peace keeping force and espionage agency that deals with the weird and out there. Since their inception in August of1965, they were mostly kept to the background of stories.
Jim Steranko managed to spin it off from a backup story in Strange Tales to a fifteen issues self-titled series that is considered by many to be the definitive run. Once that ended, S.H.I.E.L.D. had trouble staying in print. They were grunts and cannon fodder for world shaking events, maybe showing up to investigate superheroes and super villains but never really having the impact that we have seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However in recent years, the organization has been turned into a sort of governing body of Superheroes. While it is hard to pinpoint when this all began to really take the shape it has now, a major game changer occurred when Brian Bendis wrote the 2004 miniseries Secret War.
Nick Fury organizes a small covert team of heroes to stage an assault on Latveria going against orders from the US Government. In the resulting fallout, many of the heroes who participated are attacked. Fury is forced to go underground while taking his protegee, Daisy Johnson with him. He leaves S.H.I.E.L.D. to be run by Maria Hill.
Fury builds a new team of young super powered individuals who haven’t made it onto anyone’s radar yet and are most likely free of any corruption from one of the larger organizations. It is in the series Secret Warriors that we find out about S.H.I.E.L.D.’s infiltration by Hydra. The series served to show the covert machinations necessary in espionage. Many elements for the current season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are almost directly ripped from the series. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s infiltration by Hydra is a major twist in the early issues of the series. Fury attempting to build an underground group to dismantle Hydra, seeking out as many S.H.I.E.L.D. loyalists as he can, and the development of Daisy Johnson as his chosen successor are all found to have their roots in this series.
While S.H.I.E.L.D. has over the years teamed up with Heroes or sponsored them, this was the series that showed just how much they would involve themselves with powered individuals. Not only were they keeping tabs, Fury was recruiting them and training them into a response team. The use of child soldiers, while seemingly going too far, is also something we can understand since they are people who maybe need guidance to join the right side. More importantly they are dangerous individuals who without this training are a threat to themselves and others.
The use of double agents, false defectors, and moles is prominent throughout the series. A recurring question in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been “who do you trust?” as most characters are heavily involved in keeping secrets and working for any of the various factions that have sprouted up since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. In Secret Wars and Secret Warriors, we are constantly questioning what the truth is and who is working for who.
If you are enjoying the questions of morality and necessity in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I highly recommend The Secret Wars Mini Series by Brian Bendis, and am curious as to where you stand after reading it on Nick Fury’s actions. If spys and conspiracies intrigue you, Secret Warriors written by Brian Bendis and Johnathan Hickman has a 28 issue run collected in trade and offers a very intricate view of the organizations and battles in the shadows of the Marvel Universe.
Nicholas Ramirez is The Geekiverse’s expert on Suggested Reading. Follow Geekiverse on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!