NYCC 2017 [Panel/Comic Review]: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. / Dark Ark.
AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – Marvel and ABC were in full effect at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday at New York Comic-Con. Marvel TV Ringleader Jeff Loeb brought together his squad of agents including Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Agent Mae), Chloe Bennet (Quake), Iain De Caestecker (Agent Fitz), Elizabeth Henstridge (Agent Simmons), Henry Simmons (Agent Mack), and Natalia Cordova Buckley (Yoyo Rodriguez). It’s great to see a group of actors have genuine camaraderie, as the comfort level between cast members was very evident on stage. Gregg was especially loquacious, making a joke that the greatest character moment for Agent Coulson was “not being dead.”
The panel largely focused on the history of the show and the evolution of the characters. AoS has had a tumultuous history to say the least, with each season barely achieving renewal status. Loyal fans of the show have been rewarded with each season surpassing the previous one in quality. Last year’s season four shone the brightest with storylines featuring a matrix-like computer simulation, Westworld style robots and a Ghost Rider. It’s been recently revealed that AoS would have been cancelled if not for the Lords of Disney intervening from above. It seems like the commitment of the loyal fans has convinced the higher-ups that this show is worth salvaging.
Attendees at the panel were treated to a viewing of the first episode of Season 5. Every season of AoS gives us something different. Episode one opens with the Agents being whisked away to outer space for reasons unknown. This new environment succeeds in changing the status quo of the show yet again. Agent Mack even jokes about how being in space is “the one thing they haven’t done yet.” Each agent wakes up in the mysterious spaceship without any knowledge of why they’re in space and who transported them there. To make matters worse, evil blood-sucking aliens are loose on the ship, hunting our heroes. The episode was fun and exciting and raises excitement for what will hopefully be another great season.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has had an uphill battle in regards to storyline quality, viewer retention and existing at all. The last couple of seasons has found AoS catching its footing and cementing its fan base. The show has been on an upward climb ever since. Who know if the Lords of television will deem this to be the final season, but judging by what was screened today, we’re in for a solid story with some great characters. 4/5 Bibles.
Greetings, greetings. Having indulged over at San Diego this past summer, yours truly made it a day to enjoy what the East Coast has to offer, at the 2017 NYCC. Sure, I was there for only a day, and that day was spent mostly on lines (to meet Mark Hamill (!) and William Shatner (!)), but it was still worth it. After a few exclusive prints, a few autographed comics, and some back issues, it was there that I finally got to meet one of GHG’s own in the flesh, Lisa Wu! As an ambassador to NYCC on behalf of Aftershock Comics, I was able to peruse a few of their titles, including their newest, Dark Ark, written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Juan Doe. Set during the time of the Biblical flood, Dark Ark #1 is set on the sorcerer Schrae’s titular ark, wherein he has been tasked to save pairs of creatures from the unnatural world; some self-aware, others more feral, but each with a deep-seated distrust of each other, their unlikely savior, and of their own futures. With supplies running low, tensions running high, and the redemption of Schrae, and his family, resting on keeping the peace, the Dark Ark is rife with plenty of fodder for storytelling.
Bunn’s writing has the necessary weight and gravitas to make it read as if this is, indeed, the retelling of a well-known, ancient story. Each creature is given a distinct speech pattern and inked font, rendering them much more easy to identify, and gives hints as to how evolved they are relative to each other; the speech pattern and actions of the creature Kruul, for example, made him very unique and easy to understand his motivations. But it’s mainly Doe’s art that’s aces here, as the imagination is truly allowed to let wander. The mythical creatures are a chimeric delight, each imaginatively drawn, and some borrowing from preexisting mythical creature designs (hmm.. if What We Do In The Shadows‘ turned into cats?). I only wish there was a bit of a wider, longer look at most of the more bizarre creatures. Two unicorns show up for about two or three panels, and they immediately had a sense of accepted defeat that I kept wanting to return to them.
As expansive as the Dark Ark was, this first look was a bit claustrophobic. But, again, that is part of the plot! I’m usually not one for Biblical stories (and, yeah, this is TANGENTIALLY Biblical), but the mixing of genres is enough to see me through. That, and the Wu’s assurance that later issues showcase even wider arrays of bizarre creatures…as some of them start interbreeding. I was, thankfully, lucky–and surprised–enough to get a beautiful limited edition cover of the first issue, and if dark fantasy mixing with Biblical lore is your thing, I assure you there’s plenty in here to keep you interested. 3.75/5 Buckets of Fish Heads.