Dark Circle Comics launched their latest title, “The Shield,” on Wednesday. The series re-invents the Golden Age character for a new generation. it is co-written by Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig with art by Drew Johnson, colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick and letters by Rachel Deering. The first issue included a standard cover by David Williams, as well as variants by Rafael Albuquerque, Andrew Robinson, Wilfredo Torres and Robert Hack. Writer and U.S. Coast Guard veteran Myke Cole also wrote a short essay, titled “The Price of Freedom: Human Shield.”
For those unfamiliar, The Shield is a character from comics’ “Golden Age” and was the original patriotic super hero, predating Captain America by over a year. Published over the years, either directly or indirectly, by Archie Comics as one of their Red Circle characters, The Shield has now been re-imagined for Archie’s darker super hero imprint, Dark Circle Comics, joining other such titles “The Black Hood” and “The Fox.”
The Shield is now the embodiment of America’s fighting spirit, perpetually reborn to defend America since its birth during the Revolutionary War. In “The Shield” #1, the nation’s protector has once again resurfaced, although when readers first see her, she is unaware of her identity or abilities. One thing is clear, though, and that is that forces are out to get her and by any means necessary.
The creators have crafted a very clean introductory issue. Readers not only meet the current Shield, but also the original (presumably) from 1776, as well as glimpses of several others over the decades. While Victoria Adams is unaware of her purpose or abilities as the issue begins, she quickly begins to piece things together. This is rather welcome, as it seems as if Christopher and Wendig will not take up a significant portion of the first arc having Adams become The Shield. “The Black Hood” progressed much the same way and made for a compelling read each and every chapter of its first arc.
The Shield’s powers are still a bit unclear at this point, as earlier incarnations of The Shield do not seem to have any sort of restorative abilities or invulnerability, whereas it is made quite clear that Adams survives, unscathed, a car crash that should have killed her. Does this Shield have abilities beyond those of her predecessors?
Speaking of The Shield’s predecessors, they create an excellent opportunity to flesh out the history of the still developing Dark Circle Universe. Whether as separate mini-series or in between arcs, in place of the hiatuses that other Dark Circle books have taken. Given that The Shield dates back to, at least, 1776, there is potential to reveal the past of the Dark Circle’s Philadelphia, the Birthplace of the Nation, as “The Black Hood” develops its present.
In addition to introducing the title character, the issue starts building a supporting cast in one of the Washington D.C. Metro PD’s detectives. Who seems to know more about Adams, than she does herself. Readers also get a look at one of The Shield’s lead pursuers. As an agent of chaos in one of the U.S. government’s law enforcement agencies, he is likely the anti-thesis to Adam’s Shield.
Johnson and Fitzpatrick’s art and colors fit the series quite well. Johnson’s storytelling flows well and his art is full, providing definition to both character and scene. There are a couple panels where his figure posing is a bit awkward, like when one of the British red coats is holding down The Shield of 1776, but these are minor. Deering’s lettering is large and bold, which initially gives the impression that everyone is yelling, much like when one types in all caps, but, after that, the words flow as the issue is not text heavy and the large font makes for an easier read.
Much like the True Crime essays in “The Black Hood,” Cole’s “The Price of Freedom” essay adds significantly to the overall reading experience of “The Shield” #1. His words, spoken from experience, truly paint the picture of what it means to be The Shield.
“The Shield” is off to an excellent start as Dark Circle continues to broaden its line of super hero comics with this re-visioning of America’s first patriotic super hero. The first issue is available now via digital outlets and comic retailers.