Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 is by far the most disappointing tie-in in the Avengers Standoff storyline so far (and hopefully, of the entire event). In fact, it’s probably the first issue I would recommend passing over, since the majority of the story has already been presented elsewhere. Either way, spoilers begin after the jump.
One of the recurring challenges faced by this narrative has been determining how much of the story to retell when jumping from one series to another. Since regular readers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. want to be able to follow along with the series even if they aren’t reading the other Avengers Standoff books, a certain amount of exposition and repetition will be necessary.
Unfortunately, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 takes this to a whole new level, as a full half of its pages are devoted not to rehashing scenes were have already read in New Avengers #8, but actually repeating them – with the exception of a few dialogue balloons, the script for more than a dozen pages of this issue repeats material we’ve already read in another tie-in.
While certain issues like All-New, All-Different Avengers # 7 and Illuminati #6 had plots that were very similar to previous tie-ins included within the event, they at least took these stories and made them their own, replaying similar events among different groups at least allowed the reader to see how the varying characters responded. The Absorbing Man’s experience in Illuminati #6 might have been very reminiscent of Orggo’s Pleasant Hill incarceration, but at least you get the contrast between how each prisoner’s respective team reacts to Pleasant Hill.
But Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 doesn’t show us something similar to what we’ve already seen, it shows us something we’ve seen already. While there is some enjoyment to be derived from placing this book alongside New Avengers # 8 to observe how one artist’s interpretation of a script might differ from another’s, this sort of exercise can’t support a book for a full half of its page numbers.
While those that exclusively read Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might not be able to witness the entire fight if they refuse to read one of the other tie-ins, it still seems as though the fight could have been somewhat abbreviated, allowing the story to move on to fresh material sooner – there’s no reason this issue could not have started when Daisy and the others awoke after being incapacitated by the New Avengers, with a few flashback panels to fill in the blanks.
Meanwhile, the rest of the issue sees Coulson’s team successfully acquiring the data from the auction after a few dead ends, only to have the guy in the stolen Iron Man suit show up and steal it back. It is revealed that Wolverine isn’t actually Wolverine, but is simply Coulson in disguise. While the resolution to this cliffhanger isn’t as inventive as it might have been – this is a Pleasant Hill tie-in, which brought Cap back, after all – it was a passable outcome. It would have been nice if it had occurred earlier in the issue, as the fallout from the revelation likely would have provided a more engaging story than one I had already read.
The next issue of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. promises Grant Ward, one of the most interesting villains to come out of the MCU – but given its questionable character dynamics and this dud of an issue, I’m not sure I’ll bother to stick around and see how Ward is portrayed in the 616.
Next Up: The Avengers Standoff continues with All-New, All-Different Avengers #8!