Over the past few months, and to much success and praise, Archie’s adult imprint, Dark Circle Comics, has rebooted some of their most cherished superhero characters. Now adding to that line up is The Shield! But do not expect the Shield we’ve known for years now, recently seen in the New Crusaders book a few years back. This time around the character has been given an entirely fresh start.
The book starts with a flash back of a different Shield than we are used to – one that is female and fighting in the revolutionary war. Time jumps forward to present day, with seemingly the same female, but in the Washington, D.C. MPD, brought in on charges for being a vigilante, with a mysterious government agency looking for her. With the unexplained assistance of an officer, she escapes, fighting to remember who she is, and even her own name. (Keeping spoiler free, some of these questions are starting to be answered in this issue, though I won’t summarize here.)
The first issue holds up to the Dark Circle standard, and is off to a great start. The writing duo of Christopher and Wendig provides a compelling set-up for this new hero, and Johnson’s art looks phenomenal.
The concept of the new book itself is one already up for fans’ debate. The debate in question: Shield is now female. This isn’t a question of sexist nature for fans, but seems to echo Archie trying to cash in on a gender flip argument. This debate has been brought up recently for other heroes, notably the female version of Thor that Marvel introduced. Where the concept differs, though, is the Dark Circle team has dug all the way back and created an origin stretching back to the Revolutionary War, and she’s not inheriting the title from the Shield that Red Circle fans know and love. In fact, like the other Dark Circle titles, it is very reasonable to assume she fits into the same universe as everything else that came before, and just happens to share the same name. Honestly, it is a debate this reviewer tends not to get into on a public forum, as there is a split on such things, and frequently I tend to agree some of these changes, from gender to race, are unnecessary obvious cash-ins to benefit, let’s say, the Disney empire. I will admit, though, gimmick or not, the Dark Circle team has created a scenario where this gender flip makes sense, works, and doesn’t feel like a ploy. If anything, I will be super intrigued to read the issue one day where this female Shield somehow meets the elderly male of the same name.
The Shield #1 is off to a solid start and is a recommended read.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.