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Legend of the Shield issues 1 to 4 - !mpact Comics 1991

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Gem Mint
Gem Mint

Posts: 258
Location: Edinburgh

Legend of the Shield issues 1 to 4 - !mpact Comics 1991

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I've chosen to review these first four issues of LOTS in one go because they make quite a self contained story, setting the scene for the rest of the series. I hope to review 5-8, 9-12 and 13-16 as four part sets too eventually.

The first and second issues set the scene well. I like the writing, i like the characters and i like the art. I think the artwork and colouring really help this book in terms of enriching the storytelling. Anyway, issues 1 and 2 give us the background situation about Joe Higgins, plus introduce us to Mann-X, clearly the Shield's nemesis and someone with more than one mystery behind him. These issues mainly present the situation as it has been for Joe up till now, and his life is changed forever in issue 2 when his best friend is killed and Joe finds out that his father was responsible. Joe responds by going AWOL and taking the Shield armour with him, which means that we know the backstory but we also know that this isn't going to dominate upcoming plots, since the Shield is no longer "owned" by the army. Issue 1 was very hard for me to find, and i had read the rest of the run many times before i finally got a copy. If you can possibly manage it, get issue 1 first. The series does make less sense without it.

Issue 3 is just exactly what i'm talking about. The Shield is out on his own, he meets a new friend, through quite an amazing coincidence, we see Wayne Sidmonson (who appears next issue as the Black Hood, also highly coincidentally) and we get more of Joe's hallucinations about the Original Shield, as introduced in issue 2. By the way this isn't the original Original Shield, but it is a retroactive Original Shield who is part of the !mpact universe's backstory. He does appear in one or two backup stories in the annuals and i am sure he makes cameo appearances in later issues of LOTS. In my opinion the !mpact versions of the Shield and Dusty, as well as the various Legend of the Shield stories in the annuals were a great way of reinterpreting the Shield's backstory in a new !mpact way, though i am sure some disagree. Anyway...

issue 4 does exactly what it's supposed to. We get more of the same, more Black Hood, more of Joe coming to terms with undercover civilian life and of course a bad guy! a very satisfying romp against the Weapon, a crack military specialist mercenary. Four very well done issues. I saw in at least one letter to the line that the !mpact titles had arguably made a slow start, but considering they expected to be given three years to find their feet i think setting the whole scene for the run in four normal sized monthly issues is perfectly acceptable, and i think these have turned out well, especially since the Shield was the first !mpact title onto the shelves.

All in all there's an incredible amount of subplots and enemies being introduced. The story constantly switches between them, managing to pretty much remain easily understandable. To some extent this draws our attention away from the fact that Joe Higgins is rubbish at being AWOL and it is ridiculous that the army division (A.R.M.S. would you believe?) in charge of him haven't managed to apprehend him. The backstory is pretty flimsy actually but the writing of the plots we do see are so entertaining that you don't really notice.

These are a good four issues but if you get these, you really do have to get the full first twelve issues of Legend of the Shield, in my opinion. In the larger scheme of things, 1-12 make a complete set, and would make a good trade paperback, though they'd probably put in issues 13-16 too, for completeness' sake, and why not i say!
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