Graphic Novel Review: Agents of SHIELD: The Coulson Protocols

Agents of SHIELD Vol 1: The Coulson Protocols

Agents of SHIELD Vol 1: The Coulson Protocols - Credit: Archant

It’s high-stakes espionage in the Marvel Universe! Inspired by the hit television series Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Tony Stark joins Agent Phil Coulson’s covert team for a top-secret mission!

(Panini Books)

If you live in a world of super-powered beings, where gods walk the earth, mutants war against humanity, and gamma-powered monsters wreak havoc in densely populated cities, then it isn’t too much of a stretch to suggest the need for a programme of deterrents in case the good guys go bad (which, like, does happen surprisingly often).

And who better to devise a means of taking out the likes of Spider-Man and the Avengers than self-professed superhero fanboy, and leading Agent of SHIELD, Phil Coulson. Of course, Phil would never willingly create a strategy of eliminating his costumed idols, but the ideas for doing so unquestionably exist somewhere in the darkest recesses of his mind.

Of course, this being the Marvel Universe, a telepathic mercenary is available to remove this information from his head, breaking down his mental defences piece-by-piece after getting emotional with her target.

Now that information is up for grabs for the highest offer, as assorted underworld villains, criminal fraternities and hoards of supervillains bid to take control of data which will finally give them the edge needed to defeat their heroic adversaries.

And in the midst of this chaos, the SHIELD agents find themselves caught up in the exposé of supervillain internment camp Pleasant Hill during the Avengers: Standoff crossover, one of Coulson’s team is fatally exposed to a deadly substance, and we discover the history behind the Marvel Universe’s version of rogue agent Grant Ward – as featured in the SHIELD TV show.

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Taking all that is great about the television series – the well-rounded ensemble cast and web of conspiracy which surrounds them – and adding a liberal dose of Marvel Universe cameos and backstory, Agents of SHIELD is one of the strongest titles on the market right now.

What the series thrives on is its understanding of how an organisation like SHIELD would operate within the reality of the Marvel U, as not only a necessary first line of defence against homegrown forces beyond the norm, but also a vital means of keeping check on the various realms, dimensions and alien planets in the wider multiverse.

We might question the morality behind Director Maria Hill’s actions at Pleasant Hill, or ask what makes a man like Phil Coulson tick, but at the end of the day if I lived in their world then I’d want an organisation like SHIELD looking out for the ordinary men, women and children who far too often form collateral damage in the latest superhero/villain slugfest.