“Iron Man 2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” #1 isn’t exactly a ‘deleted scenes in comic form’ book, but it isn’t far off. Comprised of three eight-page stories, each spotlighting a different member or aspect of S.H.I.E.L.D., the comic adds a little bit of background and information on the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in “Iron Man 2.” With Joe Casey writing all three stories, there’s a consistent voice behind them and he’s backed up by three distinct, talented artists.
“Who Made Who” with art by Tim Green II focuses on Nick Fury listening in on Agent Garrett as he works undercover in a S.E.A.L. unit in an effort to get a live account of Iron Man in action. It’s a fun story of Fury and Garrett bantering, while Iron Man takes on a bunch of terrorists. Green’s idiosyncratic art is very offbeat and not at all what you’d expect from a movie-tie in comic. His line work is intricate with extensive crosshatching, but it’s surprisingly loose and relaxed. Characters are expressive, while Iron Man stands out as bulky an angular. It sets the tone nicely for the issue as a comic with great art that isn’t at all the sort you’d think to find in a comic like this.
Felix Ruiz’s art in “Just Off the Farm” is even more cartoony and loose with sketchy blacks and exaggerated characters. Spotlighting Agent Coulson as he breaks in a new agent via taking down a terrorist cell, Casey’s writing is again light and fun. It’s a pretty basic story with animated, dynamic art by Ruiz. His dark, messy style suits a black ops story like this along with some of the comedy Casey throws in. Ruiz gives the rookie a suitably disheveled look when he’s thrown out of a van right into his first assignment, while makes the action seem quick, brutal, and engaging. His art is probably the least developed of the trio, but it’s still very good.
The issue concludes with Matt Camp drawing a Black Widow-centric story that shows how she infiltrated Stark Industries and wound up at Tony Stark’s gym with papers that needed signing. Camp’s cold, almost sterile art fits with the mood of the Stark legal department as well as the methodical nature of the Widow. She rarely expresses emotion visibly, wearing an icy stare throughout the story. Camp’s art looks like it shows us how Widow sees her cover job, while also looking visually compelling. His art has a Jamie McKelvie look to it that works for an office setting, but he does break free in a few spots where the Widow gets to indulge her violent urges, even if they’re just in her head.
As a concept, “Iron Man 2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” #1 may not appeal to a lot of readers, but it’s a pretty great artist showcase book. Joe Casey writes three stories that add to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents we see in the movie, while the three artists all deliver different visual styles that will blow you away. This is one of the best-looking comics you’re going to find on the shelves this week.