Do you suffer from thinking that the Iron Man 2’s SHIELD agents were one-dimensional characters? Well my friends, I have the antidote…
Iron Man 2: Agents of SHIELD is basically a one-shot with three separate tales, each starring a different SHIELD member and each set somewhere in between the events of the first two Iron Manfilms. Each of these three eight page stories was available online first before being published together a few months after Iron Man 2 came out. Also, Joe Casey, co-writer of the Iron Man 2: Public Identity mini-series, returns to write them, so there is at least a consistent voice behind them.
As for the stories themselves, our first tale is Casey’s Who Made Who? Basically, it’s just about Fury gathering Intel on Iron Man by placing a SHIELD agent into a SEAL team that’s witnessing Iron Man take out a Ten Rings cell to see what Iron Man does. It further establishes the fact that Fury, seeing a non-military operative wearing a massive suit of armour, has been watching Iron Man’s actions.
Interestingly though, it also establishes that Stark really is much cleverer than Fury gives him credit for (But come on, you already knew that), since Stark is both aware of the surveillance and aware that Fury really does wants him to work for him (As established by the end of Iron Man and Iron Man: I am Iron Man!)
In other words, not a lot is added to these characters, and frankly that’s because the story is far, far too short for it to actually accomplish much of anything. Timothy Green’s art for the story is okay in the sense it’s a hell of a lot more different from what you would expect from a tie-in comic. But it’s not perfect, mostly because Green when inking it decided to over ink everything from the people to literally the air itself. Overall, Who Made Who? is a decent enough start.
However, Casey’s second story, Just Off the Farm, is a lot better. The story deals with Phil Coulson breaking in a new recruit and it actually deals with some of the issues that I had with Coulson in Iron Man. In Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Coulson was little more than the guy who gets annoyed by Stark never telling him anything all the time, and was so emotionless that he almost came off as completely forgettable until he showed up in Thor and the Marvel One-Shots. But here, Coulson is portrayed as a man that’s both very busy but very good at his job, with the only real issue professionally being that he has trouble dealing with Stark being…well…Stark.
We also get to see some of the training that SHIELD agents have to go through, even if it is the end of their training, which is a manufactured scenario so the higher ups know for certain what a SHIELD agent is going to do under fire. Because of this scenario, we learn that SHIELD agents are trained not to believe everything they see, and to not let emotions dictate what they believe, which explains why Coulson was so emotionless throughout his appearances.
As for Felix Ruix’s art, it’s cartoony and lose yet still suits the dark messy style needed for a black ops story, but while the action is indeed quick, brutal and engaging, it at times lacks clarity. Overall, this was a great story that was the story of some much needed and much welcomed character development for Phil Coulson.
The third and final story, Proximity, deals with the Black Widow and how she got to be in Stark’s gym when she first appeared in Iron Man 2. This final story is the best story one, and although Proximity is not as action-oriented as the previous two segment, it does at least add a bit more dept to the Widow’s character than the Iron Man 2 movie itself did.
Black Widow is a woman of action, as seen by the fact her first appearance is her defeating some Ten Rings goons and jumping out of an exploding plane in mid-air. While casually talking to Nick Fury no less. To her, watching paint dry is probably more exciting than going undercover in a corporate environment. It traps her in what she sees as an ineffective and bloated system that she simply doesn’t understand what to do in as well as she does when she is dealing with terrorists (Hint: It involves killing). Everyone knows that, even Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, but that still doesn’t stop her having to learn how to cope in “The real world” as you (Assuming whoever is reading this is not a government superspy) and I see it.
That said, what makes her such a great spy does come through her disguise a lot. She’s drawn with rarely a visible emotion, just an icy stare. She’s efficient and ruthless; searching for weaknesses with everyone she meets and hears about, including Stark, and not letting anyone get in the way of what she wants. Overall, she’s actually more interesting her than she is in Iron Man 2, and by that I mean a hell of a lot more interesting.
As for Matt Camp’s work is very clean and attractive, but at the same time cold and not very interesting to look at. But don’t take what I am saying here literally, while it is very cold and not very interesting for this story, it is perfect for this story, as it perfectly sets up the mood for both the Stark Legal Department and how the Black Widow view her situation.
Overall, the stories are light and fun if pretty basic. Really, it needed to be a mini-series so it could tell larger and denser stories with these characters. That said, the fact that, unlike Iron Man 2: Public Identity, it did leave me wanting more was probably a good indication that I enjoyed this one-shot. In fact, this is a tie-in comic that for once (To the shock and amazement of the entire place) actually adds something to the original source material. If you can find a copy, give it a look, it’s certainty interesting and fun enough.