Welcome to level seven, everybody. Last night Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered, and since it seems like the show is going to be pulling some deep cuts from the Marvel universe we’ve decided that instead of a traditional recap, we’d recommend some comics for you to read based on the episode.
Strange Tales #135
Why not start at the beginning? S.H.I.E.L.D. first appeared in the August 1965 issue of Strange Tales written by Stan Lee and with art by Jack Kirby. Back then S.H.I.E.L.D. stood for “Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division.”
The story focuses on Nick Fury and also features an appearance by Tony Stark — unlike last night’s S.H.I.E.L.D. episode which featured neither.
Besides S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, the issue also introduced its signature hellicarrier, life model decoys (which we’re predicting will become very relevant to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and recurring S.H.I.E.L.D. nemesis Hydra.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has come a long way in the decades since it began, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a far cry from the heady spy thriller days of the mid 1960’s, but still– it’s important to know your origins.
So that handles S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organization, but what about last night’s superhero/villain of the week Mike Peterson? For him, check out:
Yes, there’s a Mike Peterson in the Marvel Comics universe from the Slapstick series. Remember Slapstick? A guy whose superpower is basically that he’s a Saturday morning cartoon? (Maybe he’s the 0-8-4?) Slapstick popped back up in The Initiative, but I think this is a good example of just how deep the writers of S.H.I.E.L.D. are going to have dig into the Marvel Universe for characters they can use. They’re not even using Slapstick. His real name is Steven Harmon. Mike Peterson is Slapstick’s powerless best friend.
No, Mike Peterson in Slapstick doesn’t get infected with Extremis that we know of, but remember when TV Mike Peterson talked about being a good guy or a bad guy, and then jumped out the window saying something about an origin story?
That’s actually relevant to the comics Mike Peterson.
According to some synopses of Slapstick issues we found, it seems like Mike was the person who pushed his friend into using his powers to become a hero, and even recognized that when the Clowns From Dimension X tried to kidnap people at the carnival (comics were weird in the 90’s) that it was actually an origin story.
We can’t seem to find Slapstick digitally anywhere, but a few copies are available on eBay pretty cheap, and we might try to track down some issues at New York Comic Con next month to see if we can find any more parallels between TV Mike Peterson and comics Mike Peterson since it looks like he’ll be sticking around a while.
What about the source of Peterson’s power in the episode– Extremis? For that, see:
Iron Man: Extremis
The Extremis you saw last night has more in common with the Extremis from Iron Man 3 than it does with the Extremis as seen in the comics — in fact it’s exactly the same stuff from Iron Man 3, but that got its origins in the pages of a fantastic Warren Ellis story.
The story influenced the Iron Man films pretty heavily, particularly and most obviously the third, which has in turn influenced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so if you’d like to see where it came from or just read a great story about people with fire breath, pick up Iron Man: Extremis.
So there you go. S.H.I.E.L.D. has a long history, so there are obviously a lot more comics we can point you towards, but we don’t want to overwhelm you, and we think these three are a good starting place if you want to expand on your enjoyment of the television show.
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