Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Howling Commandos Of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 - Marvel Comics

As “the lowest selling Marvel All-New All-Different book of December [2015]” it’s hard not to let hindsight read too much into the somewhat choppy script for Issue Four of “Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, as Frank J. Barbiere’s narrative rather abruptly not only brings ‘sparring partners’ “Dum Dum” Duggan and Warwolf together as friends. But also has Director Maria Hill supplant Paul Kraye as leader of her agency’s Threat Analysis for Known Extranormalities after the doctor “went crazy” and started “torturing our new recruit” Nadeen Hassan.; “Dammit, I knew I should’ve fired that weasel!”

Such an incredible turnaround of events, especially ones which up until this edition the American author appeared to be very slowly building up to, invariably leads to the supposition that the former English teacher both knew that “Marvel Worldwide” was already going to cancel the short-lived series before he finished writing this comic’s storyline and realised he was going to have to resolve all of his subplots concerning S.T.A.K.E.’s secret projects within the space of just a couple of twenty-page periodicals.

If this was the case then such a convoluted combination of ideas genuinely appears to have taken its toll upon the quality of Barbiere’s penmanship and his contrived handling of characters such as Orrgo, who has apparently been surreptitiously “transferred out of base” and Captain Martin Reyna; whose willingness to readily side with “Dum Dum” against his tech division superior occurs far too quickly considering his previous hostility towards the Life-Model Decoy, and the additional fact that in doing so the mechanically-armed agent declines a promotion to team “commander”. Certainly Nadeen’s inexplicably abrupt transformation into a fully-fledged bandage-wearing ghost-manipulator, complete with mummified face, seems terrifically artificial considering the prisoner’s entire makeover occurs within the space of a single panel?

Brent Schoonover’s illustrations for this ‘gestalt of ideas’ are also somewhat inconsistent in places. “Hailing from the epicentre of culture known as South Beloit” the artist can undoubtedly draw an impressively mean-looking Duggan, who despite occasionally appearing a little too much like one of James Cameron’s Terminators when battle-damaged, visually dominates every panel within which he appears. Disappointingly however the same cannot be said for Kraye, Hassan and the numerous poorly-depicted armoured S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who populate the rest of this comic's breakdowns.
Writer: Frank J. Barbiere, Art: Brent Schoonover, and Color Art: Nick Filardi

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