Thursday, September 26, 2013

Steranko slams "SHIELD"

First, let me make it clear that I have not seen the comic book-based Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

That said, this headline on Newsarama caught my eye.

Jim Steranko has long since earned legendary status in the comic book industry as an artist and writer.  In fact, he is in the realm of artists that can be referred to by a single name and nearly every fan immediately gets a mental image of a trademark style.  Just say "Steranko..."
Steranko is largely to credit for the Marvel Comics identity of S.H.I.E.L.D. due to his work on the series Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Upon seeing the pilot episode of Joss Whedon's NBC series based on the same franchise, Steranko took to the internet to immediately voice his complaints.  He was not happy.

“The pilot assumes the audience is cognizant of the Marvel Universe as it regales viewers with a salvo of references established previously in big-screen efforts,” Steranko writes.  “Granted, Avengers may be the third-highest-grossing flick of all time, but recalling the details of last year's favorite may be too much to expect above the fanboy level.”

Can't fault him there.  Steranko also cites the lamentable absence of the character of Nick Fury.

“Although Fury, like Batman and Bond, has no superpowers, he is clearly suprahuman: irresistible, indomitable, invincible,” the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. writer/artist explains. “…the [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.] opener would have benefitted [sic] immensely from a 15-second cameo or even a damn phone call from [Samuel L. Jackson's] Fury.”

True.  Who doesn't want a bit more Nick Fury in their lives?  Steranko goes on to say:

 “Could anyone understand the dialogue delivered by the S.H.I.E.L.D. lab team?” Steranko added. “Did anyone feel punted into P.C.-ville by the Hooded Hero being black? And did we really need the rampant, dueling ideologies at the pilot's denouement? We all understand melodrama has its conveniences, contrivances and coincidences, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect a certain transcendence with the kind of creative talent behind the series.”

Okay, here's where he lost me.  I see no problem with a character being cast or recast as African American.  Oh gee, sorry.  Was that term "too PC?"  Oh well.

I like Jim Steranko.  He's talented as all hell and he's a funny guy as many of his tweets attest to.  But I can't help but wonder if a few of his beefs are a bit misguided.  If he's quietly unhappy that the TV series is too unlike what he created, there might be a reason for that...and it has nothing to do with judgements of quality.  Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. had its genesis during the height of the Bond and Man from U.N.C.L.E. craze.  I'm not so certain how well that would translate to today, especially after Austin Powers spent the better part of a decade piercing said sectile material with parody.

Both Marvel and NBC may be looking for a new kind of S.H.I.E.L.D.  That being said, sounds like Steranko's other points may be spot on.

Then again, I haven't seen it.  Yet.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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