Review: Quake: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1

In case you may have missed it, Marvel is in the midst of its 50th anniversary celebration of S.H.I.E.L.D; to commemorate the occasion, they did a wildly oversized issue of S.H.I.E.L.D., featuring a prelude to Frank Barbiere and Brent Schoonover’s upcoming Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D., and now they’re releasing single-issue, character focused stories. Last week’s was focused on Mockingbird, written by Chelsea Cain and illustrated by Joëlle Jones, and this week’s is about everyone’s favorite seismic Inhuman, Quake, written by We Can Never Go Home’s Matthew Rosenberg & Patrick Kindlon, and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson. Okay, enough intro. This issue takes place just at the beginning of Marvel’s Heroic Age push, right after Norman Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. got put down, Cap was back, everything was bright and shiny. The issue is a pretty classic “first day on the job” story, with Daisy Johnson, codename Quake, getting promoted to First Team on a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission--basically, she gets to run with the Avengers for this one. We’re introduced to each member of the team through her eyes, and we get to follow her through a difficult field decision.

These issues are strange animals, because they have to be both an introduction to the character if you’re unfamiliar with them, and they have to be a perfect distillation of who that character really is. Rosenberg and Kindlon do a great job getting inside Daisy’s head--even if she is a Level 10 S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she’s still barely into her twenties, and she’s as uncertain about getting promoted as any twentysomething is about anything. She looks for the ways that the mission can go wrong, and she makes a call to make the mission go right, at least as far as her conscience will allow.

Quake #1Another strong point of the issue is how quickly the team is able to paint a picture of the Avengers. Daisy sees them through an archetypal lens, so each interaction, aside from Tony and Cap, is a little rushed, a little bit surface-level. Luckily, Johnson’s art does a lot of heavy lifting to get the atmosphere across (especially the panel of Red Hulk when Daisy passes him in the hall--rarely do the Hulks get to look so monstrous and threatening anymore). I’m not sure I’m crazy about Jason Keith’s colors in the issue (there’s nothing wrong with them by any means, they just don’t quite mesh with Johnson’s artwork), but the art is strong, with Johnson handling action scenes and dialogue scenes with equal weight. The conversation between Daisy and Iron Man stays visually interesting, and Rosenberg and Kindlon know when to get out of the way of a double-page splash.

I’ve never been a huge Quake guy. I enjoyed Secret War and Secret Warriors as much as the next guy, I’m sure, but as a teenager, I always wanted to see older characters I could aspire towards, not other teenagers with the same problems as me. Looking back with my wizened features at 25, Daisy is much more interesting to me as a moral force in a book full of older characters hardened into their ways after 50 years worth of stories compressed into a timeline of something like 15 years. She’s still a fresh face, and that’s a valuable thing to have for the characters and for the readers. Is she my favorite character? No--but I enjoyed the time we spent together for 20 pages.

This is definitely one to pick up this week--bonus points if you snag the Christian Ward variant, which is phenomenal as always. It’s a superhero book with an emotional core, which seems to be Rosenberg and Kindlon’s strong suit, and it looks gorgeous. I’m excited to see what Johnson, Rosenberg and Kindlon are up to next.

Score: 4/5

Quake: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 Writers: Matthew Rosenberg & Patrick Kindlon Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson Colorist: Jason Keith Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit Publisher: Marvel Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/9/15 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital