Friday, August 24, 2018

Retro Review: Bruce Wayne: Agent of Shield #1 (1996)

Double Agent

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Cary Nord, Mark Pennington, Steve Buccellato
Cover Price: $1.95
Release Date: April 1, 1996

The Amalgam comics are such a cool concept especially nowadays when the idea of them ever happening again seem like a pipe dream.  Just imagine if DC and Marvel could join up again for things like just makes too much sense and unfortunately, those are the sort of things that always seem to got tossed aside.  Well, we still have the issues from 1996 to reread, and that's just what I did for this retro review.  Here goes...

The issue opens up with Lord Green Skull pretty down in the dumps as his arch-nemesis, Colonel Bruce Wayne, hovers above in his Helicarrier.  Unfortunately, that's the least of his problems as his daughter, Selina Luthor, steps up to take control of Hydra herself.  She does just that and shortly after killing her father, gives a rousing "Hail Hydra" for all to enjoy.

I love cracking open these Amalgam comics just to see what fun waits inside.  It's all about the characters and this one has some doozies.  Lord Green Skull is pretty cool (although his appearance is brief) and I smiled when Selina Luthor yelled out her name, but it's her cronies that are the best. Baron Zero (Mr. Freeze and Baron Von Strucker), Nuke (Bane and Nuke) and Deathlok (Jason Todd, Deathlok and Midnight) are backing Selina and just look so badass.

The fun continues as Bruce Wayne and Nick Fury don't see eye-to-eye on the Skull matter.  Nick wants a more subtle approach, but Bruce is going in guns a blazing and he's bringing some friends...Black Bat (Batgirl and Black Cat) and Moonwing (Nightwing, Tim Drake, and Moon Knight).  Yes, Moonwing is now my favorite comic book character of all time!

Before we go any further, we get a Bruce Wayne origin that is very familiar but fits this issue so well.  Instead of becoming the Bat, this Bruce is motivated by his parent's deaths to become the head of SHIELD. 

In the next bunch of panels, we get to see Sgt. Rock and a crippled Tony Stark.  Did I mention how much I love these Amalgam Comics?  Bruce, Black Bat and Moonwing jump out of the Helicarrier and head towards Hydra thanks to some Stark Industries jetpacks. 

The rest of the issue involves some great battles.  Moonwing fights Deathlok and it's a family reunion that surprises the hell out of Dick as he thought that Jason Todd was dead.  Then we get Bruce Wayne versus Nuke and while it comes off too much like a "Say no to Drugs" commercial, I still loved it.  Then as they infiltrate Hydra, it's Bruce against Selina Luthor.  Who wins?  Actually, it appears like it's a draw as Green Skull's Planetsmasher blows up everyone.  Everyone except Skull himself who it seems is far from actually being dead after all.

If you couldn't tell already, I really enjoyed this comic.  It has the fun characters I love from these Amalgam books and the action was great.  In fact, I can even overlook some failings in the plot because of the restraints of just being one issue, but I don't have to here.  Chuck Dixon does a great job of quickly developing the characters and even gives us a couple of great origin stories.  It all adds up to a kick-ass issue.

Cary Nord's art is really good as well.  It's got the grittiness of an older Agent's of Shield comic that, of course, fits this issue.  The highlight for me was the fight between Bruce and Nuke which played out so well thanks to Nord's art.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue is another Amalgam winner.  While we don't get a whole lot of Bruce himself, we get a ton of other great characters and they all end up kicking the crap out of each other.  It's really a who's who of coolness that unfortunately ends with what appears to be all their deaths.  If you like Elseworlds stories, you will want to check this issue out.


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