By: Nick Spencer (Writer) Luke Ross (Artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist)

The Story: S.H.I.E.L.D needs to take care of a platoon of sentient Iron Patriot armors, cue Bruce Banner.

The Review: I had another idea on how to summarize this story, one that would not have actually told what essentially happens, yet it would have been perfect in tone: ‘’S.H.I.E.L.D strikes back’’. In the two past issues of this title, we had seen how A.I.M had become a whole new thing, as we were presented to an organisation with a completely new and more focused vision, spearheaded by Andrew Forson, the scientist supreme.

Taking just where the last issue left us, we now get a fascinating concept about giving personality to a suit of armor, giving it sentience in order to accomplish some goals. With A.I.M having done so with the help of Mentallo, they try to create a situation in which S.H.I.E.L.D could look disastrous. This then leads to some scenes that shows just how Spencer can handle this title and how much it differentiates itself from other titles with ‘’Avengers’’ in their name.

The biggest one would be the big use of politics in the story, both in the background and in the main plot, as it is both used as a context and a weapon right there. The way S.H.I.E.L.D manipulates information, some of their assets and even their enemies is splendid in most scenes, as it shows that they cannot afford to play nice if they want to save the world from those who uses dirty tricks of their own. Combine this with science and regular comic book action and we have something very unique that deserves attention.

Another big difference would be the lower tone of action and characters, as most characters here aren’t big armored avengers, thunder gods or even aliens, but rather the more humane character like Hawkeye, Maria Hill and Black Widow. Of course, there is a big exception that is introduced to the cast in this very issue: the Hulk. With the new status quo introduced by Mark Waid in his own series, it does provide Nick Spencer with a potential new player in his story, which he uses very well. We get a scene in which Bruce Banner shows just why he is one of the best scientists in the Marvel universe as he does bring up a really great idea on how to deal with the Iron Patriots. This leads to another scene that uses both the Hulk and the concept between the recruitment processes of this series to great effect. I won’t spoil what happens, but it does bring up just how S.H.I.E.L.D operates on a whole new level.

This is exactly what we need here, as most issues had shown how the new A.I.M was awesome and how S.H.I.E.L.D were struggling against them. Here, though, we see how they can react to situations, who they can get to handle it and their strategies to face off against scheming organisations. To see them getting back in the game makes for a pretty interesting comic, as we also get to see the internal relations in the organisation. The scene with Daisy Johnson and Maria Hill alone was pretty fun to read, making me realize the fact that Nick Spencer made me like Maria Hill as a character, which is something I never thought would be possible.

What I knew was possible, though, was to be satisfied with Luke Ross work on this title, a supposition that I quickly found was correct. Here, we see a mix of high technology, dark espionage with a more realistic approach to backgrounds, pose and general pacing that result in a great looking book. While some of the expression and poses goes a bit too far in terms of exaggeration, it does not go so far as to destroy the feeling of the story or hurt its credibility. The suspension of disbelief is maintained, as we could say. With Matthew Wilson on board as a brilliant colorist, it could not have been better, as he truly participates in the whole mix described earlier with his colors. The underwater sequence and the Hulk scene are both great example of his talent, as he both captures the desert heat and the unending depth of the ocean really well with his colors. As in all, the art team really work well with the script.

The Conclusion: As the story continues, we are treated to an excellent mix of espionage, politics and action in a way that does justice to the title of this book. With Ross and Wilson on art, it even looks the part too.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière