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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Coulson Protocols” (Marvel Comics, 2016; #1-6)

In case the title doesn’t make it obvious, this book targets fans of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. It is not in continuity with the show; in fact, it makes deeper cuts than most current Marvel ongoings do regarding comics continuity. But its characters sound like the TV show’s characters, and the team roster is pretty much identical.

The strongest moments in this book are its smaller, more human beats. For example: when the other agents give Coulson a hard time for naming his flying car after an ex, or Fitz snarking at Mockingbird while she’s saving him from falling thirty thousand feet to his death. Even the arc’s A-plot is a product of Phil Coulson being a quintessential fanboy and thinking too much about superheroes’ weaknesses. The moments of spycraft are by the book, but they remain enjoyable. There is one odd thing about full ensemble scenes’ dialogue that stuck out to me: it’s a product of recognizing the writer’s style, but those moments bear a similar cadence to group briefings on Arrow.

I wish that the action of this book spent more time outside of governmental corridors and cargo plains, because Peralta’s line-work for more detailed spaces and panoramic vistas is impressive. The same is true of Rachelle Rosenberg’s color work; while it is never lacking, pages that demand more in this book let its art team deliver more. The only issue I had with the art is that from time to time, it was difficult to tell May and Quake apart—one scene, in particular, I still am not completely sure about.

The most obvious candidate to read Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a fan of the show. It is not exactly the same—primarily, the inclusion of characters whose appearance on the show is unlikely (Iron Man, Spider-Man) or impossible (Wolverine) is the biggest difference. Main characters will be familiar, though. If you’re not into the TV show, I’m not sure that there’s as much here to hook you. It is an entertaining read, and it has its fun moments, but seeing those characters interact in the comics universe seems to me to be its main draw.

Collected in

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Vol. 1: The Coulson Protocols (#1-6, All-New All-Different Marvel Point One #1)


Writer: Marc Guggenheim | Artist: Germán Peralta | Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg (1-6), Chris Sotomayor (ANAD Point One) | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Covers: Mike Norton & F.C.O. Plascencia

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