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I meant to write about this one right after I wrote about Blue Ribbon Comics #5. In my big book of comic books from an ebay seller, I had two comic books featuring The Shield, one from Archie Comics, and this one, from DC Comics. This was published by Impact Comics (sometimes written as "!mpact Comics"), which was DC comics attempt to create a line-up from characters acquired from the Archie super-hero line. And when I saw the cover, with our flag-suited protagonist jumping into a hail of bullets, I was ready to mock the attempt.

When I opened it up, I found myself facing the same problem as when I read the previous adventures of The Shield. Because I saw, next to the name Grant Miehm, the writer and penciller of this issue, the name Mark Waid as the person who did the dialogue (meaning, I assume, scripting) for this issue. While Mark Waid isn't quite Jack Kirby, that is the worst thing I can say about him as a creator. Mark Waid is a consistently innovative creator who has done quality work in comic book writing for over three decades now. Apparently, working on this reboot of The Shield was one of the earliest things he did for DC. So I started reading this issue in earnest.

These external matters out of the way, lets talk about this issue: we are introduced to our hero, The Shield, when we see several army helicopters hunting him. After a quick pitched battle where we see him jump into a moving helicopter and get shot, demonstrating his super strength and invulnerability, we find out that this is all a training exercise, and that The Shield is an army project to create a super-warrior using an enhanced power suit. We are then introduced in a flashback to more background information: the head of the project knew the original The Shield back in the 1940s, and the current wearer of the suit is...his son! Who was such a great soldier that he would have been overqualified to be the test subject for this program, until his father framed him for war crimes. (And let me interject here that this seemed to be a pretty confusing plot point in several ways). After establishing the backstory of our Shield, named Joseph Higgins, we also see him meeting with his mother, who has divorced his father due to (as we, the readers already know) his selfish and cruel nature. After having established all this, the conclusion of our story is when an armored attacker disturbs another training exercise in an attempt to get the suit. After defeating his attacker, The Shield, and the audience, is left with several questions. As well as simmering tension, Gendou Ikari/Shinji Ikari style, with his harsh father.

There is one thing that makes me very difficult to please as a comic book reader: All comic books I read fall in to two categories: too complicated or too simple. Apparently (I learned, after reading this), the Impact Comics line was DCs attempt to create a line of comics that could be read by casual readers, as an alternative to DC's main universe, which was getting more convoluted and "mature". But I wouldn't have guessed that from reading this, with its story of a complicated military conspiracy, as well as an emotionally-fraught relationship between a son and his controlling father. I have been reading comics for decades, and even after reading this "introduction", I was confused about what was going on. One of the benefits that the long-running comic books have is that the reader usually knows, in broad strokes, what Marvel and DC's characters are going to do and feel. Here, while they begin to develop the character, Miehm and Waid have already created something that would be hard for a new reader to get into. This is no fault of theirs, as most new comic book "universes" usually have this same problem of trying to get readers involved and interested in characters and situations that need a lot of explaining. This issue showed a lot of skill in art and writing, but it failed at doing what it was trying to do: launch a new (kinda) character in a way that the audience would feel comfortable enough with the character to know what was going on, but different enough that they would want to keep reading.