I’ve been praising Dark Circle Comics for a while in my articles. The Black Hood led me to read The Fox books, which I hate to admit I had not gotten around to picking up before then — even though one of my favorite writers, Mark Waid, was writing it. Needless to say I am now hooked, so I’ve been patiently waiting for the upcoming new books from them. Books reintroducing The Hangman, The Web, and the most recent title to join their family, The Shield.
What most impressed me about The Black Hood was not its subtle incorporation of nods to the old series, but the believability and maturity of the story. The Black Hood was as different a book from The Fox as night is from day, but they were both so well done. Simply put, they were interesting and fun stories to read. Both of them grabbed me and instantly took me back to a time when I picked up my superhero comics each week and was sure that I would enjoy every turn of the page. These days when I pick up books about superheroes from the big two, I find myself bombarded with more gimmick than substance. The poor writers that work there have to incorporate the latest multi-book crossover, or reboot, or limited reboot, or reinvention of the character, or basic changing of the character to make it fall more in line with the cinematic versions. In short, it’s not easy to find a book anymore that is being put out with just the simple goal of delivering a good story.
This is the downside of Hollywood’s recent, all-in investment into my beloved industry. I appreciate what it has brought to the industry, and the possibility for a creator to make a living through their creations has never been better. Yet for someone like me, as a lifelong superhero fanatic, it leaves me with limited choices when it comes to the books I can read. I want to be transported to a different time and place when I pick up my superhero comic, and not reminded of the unnecessary, or the business side of the industry. Dark Circle has transported me each time I’ve picked up a book by them. Their stories take over, and I can read just for entertainment’s sake. I’ve been holding my breath with anticipation for The Shield; here is the next launch in their line. Will it be as good as the work that has come before? Is this the time where I find myself disappointed with the story? I’m happy to say that The Shield was like The Black Hood, all I was looking for and much more.
Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig gave me a story that was presenting a familiar hero in a new way. I read the first story being sucked into what was going on and was left, like with all good books, wanting more. The back story of the new Shield is different, but like the Black Hood it had a feeling reminiscent of the original. I picked up issue one of The Shield, and it seemed like one instant later I was done. This is always a sign of a great comic. It’s the kind of experience I get each time I read Usagi Yojimbo or almost anything written by Mark Waid. (Gush. Waid’s my current comic crush.)
The art provided by Drew Johnson is solid. He does a good job making the flashback scenes feel authentic, instead of a lazy interpretation of a bygone era. He also does a good job of putting the characters into a believable background. I hate it when an artist takes the lazy way out, choosing to leave background unfilled. The color work by Kelly Fitzpatrick is consistent throughout the book, and again, nothing wild or experimental to take the reader out of the story. I like the decision to go with a slightly darker palette because it helps to convey the mysterious and foreboding feel that you get from the story.
I’d also like to take some time to tip my hat to the people you hardly ever hear mentioned when you read a review of a comic book, the men behind the scenes. Jon Goldwater (publisher, and co-CEO), Nancy Silberkleit (co-CEO), Mike Pellerito (President), Victor Gorelick (co-President), Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Chief Creative Officer), and lastly Alex Segura (Editor). These are the people who either decided the course the stories will go, or are the ones in charge of finding the people to put in charge of those decisions. In other words, these are the people who decided if there is going to be a super-mega crossover, or if they want a book to have a more realistic feel. All gimmicks start, and usually stop, with these people too. What I’ve seen from this group is the support and the commitment to putting out great superhero books. These are the people who decided to give you more content and less salesmanship. These are the people who make it possible for the Dark Circle canon to expand with more books and, in the end, these are the people who I’m trusting to maintain the same level of commitment to their stories. I know: no pressure.
In closing, The Shield #1 is another really great installment of the revival of the Archie line of superheroes. It is fast paced, action packed, and has enough hook to catch a blue whale. I suggest you go out and buy it and everything else that Dark Circle Comics puts out. These are the superhero books you should be reading.