|This cover is awesome. I had to pick it up.|
I think that one of my favorite things about comics, one of the absolute cornerstones of the medium, that keeps me coming back to it is the heroic legacy of characters. This has nothing to do with continuity. Fuck continuity, most of the time it just calcifies storytelling and leads to empty wankery.
Today at the comic store I picked up The Shield #1 from Dark Circle Comics (aka the fine people who bring us Archie) and the new creative team of Chuck Wendig, Adam Christopher and Drew Johnson.
I have been anticipating this comic since it was first announced. I have been a fan of The Shield and the various "Archie Super-Heroes" since the 80s revamp of the characters under Rich Buckler and the Red Circle Comics. Then in the 90s I loved the Impact! Comics featuring these characters put out by DC Comics. I even liked the 2000s revamp from DC Comics. These characters may not always stick with comic readers, but they represent a legacy that goes back to the golden age of comics and that is (in part) what makes them so important.
This is a new Shield for a new era. This new comic upholds the legacy of the old comics, while rebuilding it for new ideas and new sensibilities. The Shield was the first patriotic hero in comics, and that isn't forgotten in this book. This new Shield is patriotic and proud of her country, but not in a jingoistic way. The patriotism of this books isn't an "America right or wrong!" type of patriotism. It is a patriotism that comes from loving your country, and loving the fact that other people want to be a part of your country, and that with loving your country comes the responsibility of doing the right thing for it...and on the behalf of it.
I don't know if that makes much sense, but I was brought up to love my country because its people weren't afraid to do the right thing, even at great personal consequence, not because it would bring accolades or fame, but because it was the right thing to do. This is also at the root of the concept of super-heroes, and why super-hero comics are predominantly such an American thing. This desire to do the right thing out of love for your country and super-heroes are so deeply entwined that comic book super-heroes start to falter when you move away from that base line of doing the right thing.
Wendig and Christopher's writing manages to create a character in Adams who is both grounded in the real world of the 21st century, and who is also larger than life and legendary. Johnson's art helps with this in no small part. The three of them create a world for our hero (and yes, she is very much our hero) that manages to be both realistic and epic at the same time.
Why is a heroic legacy so important to storytelling? When done right, they can show us how we can do grand things and be larger than the world around us. With The Shield, Wendig and Christopher have created a larger than life character who lives up to the legacy of The Shield. They have created a hero who is ageless and a product of their contemporary world, just like every other good super-heroic concept that outlasts its creators. This was a comic that thrilled me while I was reading it, yet made me sad that I have to wait 30 days in order to see what was going to happen next. That feat alone is something that doesn't happen every day in my comic reading, and that is why I will be back for more next month with The Shield.
If you like super-hero comics you really should be reading The Shield. Put it on your pull list and demand that your store stock it, if they don't already.
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