When it was announced that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD would premiere on ABC and be a Joss Whedon project, the entire internet chanted in unison that it would certainly be the best thing ever.
But the first few episodes started out slow and this is internet where everything is the best or the worst or the most or the least, so of course, Agents of SHIELD was horrible and awful and OMG.
Then Captain America: Winter Soldier happened and the events of that movie tied directly into the television show in a magnificent way, and Agents of SHIELD became engrossing to watch.
Agents of SHIELD is good, really good, and it’s maintained that throughout their second mid-season break. Phew! What a relief. Sorry for taking you on that pointless emotional roller coaster. But now that it is established that the show is good, let’s talk about the comic source material. In other words, which comics are influencing the major storylines of Agents of SHIELD?
Which Marvel comics influence Agents of SHIELD?
The short answer is Agents of SHIELD takes most of its story cues from a 2009 Marvel comics series called Secret Warriors. We review that entire comic run here, so let’s use our time to discuss the story beats are lifted for the televisions show.
First, the Captain America: Winter Soldier storyline is the major story beat of Secret Warriors. The premise of Secret Warriors is Nick Fury discovering that HYDRA has been pulling the strings of SHIELD for decades, so Fury takes the fight off the grid. Fury is now rogue and assembles a covert team to bring HYDRA down. On Agents of SHIELD Coulson substitutes for Nick Fury, but you get the idea.
Right out of the gate in the Secret Warriors run, Fury realizes they’ll need resources and he initiates an operation where they steal two helicarriors. On the TV show they stole a measly couple quinjets, but you get the idea.
The comic series has a great chart that lists all of Nick Fury’s secret bases, both by codename and location and purpose. When Coulson and his team shoot around the world from base to base, I could imagine this chart from the comic run. You get the idea.
But what about characters lifted from Secret Warriors?
In addition there is character after character from Secret Warriors that is modeled for Agents of SHIELD.
Let’s start with the most significant. The major character in Secret Warriors is a young female operative named Daisy Johnson (Here’s our comic profile of Daisy). The major story line Agents of SHIELD season 2 is the real identity of Skye. Well, the mid-season finale revealed her as…you got it, Daisy Johnson. Not just that, but we’ll begin to see Skye’s Daisy’s seismic powers from the comics.
It was a big reveal, particularly when Daisy’s character in the comics has a relationship with a team member who turns out to be a lying jackwagon. How does that not sound like Skye’s relationship with Ward?
There are minor characters as well. Eric Koenig of the Howling Commandos died the comics but he was privy to the Life Model Decoy technology that was commonly used by Fury. When the character of Eric Koenig was introduced in Agents of SHIELD he elicited a spit take when we realized there was more than one of him. If you consider Eric Koenig from the comics and his connection to Life Model Decoys, you can bet that’s the answer to why the Agents of SHIELD version has so many dupes.
Where does Agents of SHIELD deviate from Secret Warriors?
Every time a storyline or character is lifted from Secret Warriors to be used in Agents of SHIELD, the writers are intentional about shifting it slightly from the comic source material.
After all, they know us nerds are nerds and don’t want us able to predict the television show story beat for story beat or character action by character action. So even though there are similarities, references, and call backs, Agents of SHIELD takes care to plot it’s own future, much like the writers of The Walking Dead do when they pull stories fro those comics, but with a twist or spin.
What could be the future of Agent of SHIELD?
But even though the writers are taking care to keep us guessing, it’s fun to speculate on what aspects of Secret Warriors (or other comics from that period) could be used as inspiration for future plotlines.
For one, Mockingbird is up to something fishy on the television show. In the comics it was revealed that she spent years as a Skrull, an alien race of shapeshifters. Skrulls would make for some wild shazbot on TV but Michael Jackson’s Black or White video proved way back in the 90’s that the face morphing technology exists for the special effects it would take to pull this off.
But honestly, I’m not even sure Marvel owns the rights to the Skrulls. It’s possible it was part of the Fantastic Four deal with Sony (or was it Fox?). At any rate, it could be one of those Sony ding dongs that screw up the Skulls for everyone, or it turns out that the Mockingbird on the television show has a story that’s all her own. In fact, we should probably be satisfied with one alien race – the Kree – and not expect the Skrulls as well.
In terms of future characters, Daisy Johnson wasn’t the only one who lead a team of Secret Warriors for Nick Fury. There is another team that potentially could be pulled in, but introduced as Inhumans as is fitting with the television show. This squad – Alexander Pierce’s – weren’t fully fleshed out in the comics, so they could be a blank slate for Agents of SHIELD writers.
Speaking of the Inhumans, there was a third faction in the Secret Warriors comic – Leviathan. Could the television show use elements of that story, but substitute the Kree/Inhumans for Leviathan. Could be fun.
I’m really starting to speculate wildly here. But this is internet where everything is the best or the worst or the most or the least, and it’s also irresponsible to NOT wildly speculate.