The Sanctum Sanctorum has been broken into and Phil Coulson is the guy to get in there and set things right. In S.H.I.E.L.D. #3, he brings a pal, Spider-Man, along for the ride. As you can imagine, quips ensue.
S.H.I.E.L.D. is an interesting series in that it is effectively a series of Phil Coulson team-up one shots, with a few ties connecting the issues to keep some simmering narratives flowing. While this is great for people jumping in at any point, it does force the series to face the challenge all one-shots have: telling an interesting, contained tale in 20 odd pages. S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 doesn’t take many risks, delivering a pretty straightforward story featuring a plot that is extremely simple. Someone broke into Strange’s house and touched something they shouldn’t have, so we better go get them! While there are some funny quips along the way and Waid did get me to snort-laugh at one point, if you look past the Coulson/Parker banter there is very little meat on this bone. It’s a very quick read with very few plot twists, and it falls into the “what was the point of this one” curse of the one shot. As a middle chapter of an arc, sometimes it is easier to stomach issues that are a little light on big moments, but when you’re dealing in a series of one shots, it’s obvious that there isn’t much to this one.
Alan Davis’ art is exactly what anyone who knows Davis will expect. This isn’t his sharpest work, with his Spider-Man looking awkward at points. The Sanctum Sanctorum is a relatively bland place when you look at where Davis could have gone with some of it, and the colour work is rather drab, with the exception of a couple pages where Wilson goes full on psychedelic. When dealing with a place like the Doctor Strange’s house you’d expect to see an art team go wild, but Davis plays everything very safe, and takes about as many risks as the script does. This issue reads like he could have penciled it in the 80s or 90s and it lacks the spark needed to make a story like this fly. Coulson lacks any visual flair to show him as being any different than any other S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent in a suit and that special “Coulson charm” is just missing here. The net effect is a story that feels watered down to the point of losing its relevance, and anyone looking for something in a similar tone to the show won’t find it here.
S.H.I.E.L.D. #3 is the weakest chapter in the series so far, with a story that is too basic to stay interesting with the addition of some banter. This issue fell into some of the traps one shots typically face and I’m hoping we see some of the aspects that make Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. work in this comic in the near future.
The Verdict: 4.0/10