Want a greater understanding of some of the characters and stories in the new season of S.H.I.E.L.D., and where they came from? Check out the following comics.
- Inhuman (2014)
Focusing primarily on Medusa, the queen of the Inhumans, and Lash, an Inhuman who executes others he finds unworthy, this 7 issue comic explores the rise of civilian Inhumanity after an event causes the world to be exposed to Terrigen mist. A great new comic to introduce you to Inhumans!
Now, Lash died last season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Medusa has not been introduced (and likely will not be until the movie). However, the whole world has been exposed to Terrigen crystals through the water supply, and the showrunners have indicated that this will continue to be a factor in season four – and now with the Inhumans movie temporarily off the slate, they are free to explore more classic Inhumans from the comics. Lockjaw, anyone?
- Squadron Supreme (1985-1986)
First appearing in an late 60’s Avengers issue as the alternate universe “Squadron Sinister”, the Squadron was created as a not-so-subtle dig on the Justice League. Featuring ultra-fast Whizzer, god-like alien Hyperion, master marksman Golden Archer, and orphaned-billionaire-turned-crime-fighter Nighthawk to name a few, you might be wondering what this 12-issue miniseries is doing on the list. Don’t worry – there’s a reason it’s so far down; this comic actually was the first to feature the A.I. known as Artificial Intelligence Data Analyzer (A.I.D.A.), as an invention of Tom Thumb, the dwarfed genius send-up of DC Comics’ Atom.
A.I.D.A. made her debut on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last season as the A.I. of Dr. Holden Radcliffe, and became the first Life-Model Decoy. Will she retain the caring nature of her Supreme comic counterpart or is something more Sinister (excuse the pun) afoot? We will have to watch and find out.
- Machine Teen (2005)
Machine Teen was a five-issue limited series in 2005 about Adam Aaronson, a seemingly normal teenage boy who discovers his recent super-strength and lapses in memory are because he is an android with an advanced A.I. called Autonomously Decisive Automated Mechanism (A.D.A.M.). But how does this relate to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The villain of the series is an ambitious scientist named Dr. Holden Radcliffe, who is obsessed with the idea of developing intelligent androids for combat purposes.
Radcliffe, first appearing in the MCU as a radical body-mod scientist in season three of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was revealed at the end of the season to be working on Life-Model Decoys – realistic androids with highly advanced A.I. who are capable of replicating human beings. Will his advancement in the field of robotics be helpful to the team – or will something go wrong?
- Secret Warriors (2009-2011)
These 28 issues ought to sound familiar. After finding out HYDRA has their hands in every major government and privatized agency, including S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury resorts to the Caterpillar Files – a list of neutral superhumans who have never been active heroes or villains. He uses them to put together the Secret Warriors, a tactical S.H.I.E.L.D. group of superheroes, featuring Daisy “Quake” Johnson, J.T. “Hellfire” James, Yo-Yo “Slingshot” Rodriguez, Sebastian “Druid” Druid, Jerry “Stonewall” Sledge, and Alexander “Phobos” Aaron.
While the rise of HYDRA occurred in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Caterpillar Files aren’t seen until Daisy is recruited as the first Secret Warrior in the finale of season two. Though still consisting of Quake and Slingshot, the line-up of the Secret Warriors is different in the MCU; though Stonewall’s father Carl “Absorbing Man” Creel is an ally, Hellfire is an adversary and new recruit Eden “Manifold” Fesi was recovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. in an episode. Like the comics, the Warriors are put to the test to take out Hive and his HYDRA goons. Also, many other characters who appear in this comic are in the MCU: Leviathan, Wolfgang von Strucker, Jasper Sitwell, John Garrett, Dum Dum Dugan, Eric Koenig, Heimdall, Alexander Pierce, Daniel Whitehall and more. Of course, the Warriors are disbanded for now – but I have faith Daisy will rejoin the team.
- All-New Ghost Rider (2014-2015)
If you have been living under a rock, the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will heavily feature the newest addition to the Ghost Riders – Roberto Reyes. Robbie is a young latino mechanic living in L.A., eager to get his wheelchair-bound little brother Gabe out of their gang-ridden neighborhood. After secretly entering a street race to win 50 grand with a customer’s Dodge Charger, he is killed by mysterious mercenaries he mistakes for the police – but is bonded with a demonic spirit possessing the car named Eli, and is resurrected as the vengeance-seeking Ghost Rider.
It looks like the fourth season will draw heavily on Robbie’s 12-issue storyline, with Robbie, Gabe and his boss Manelo cast, and trailers alluding to Eli as having control over Robbie’s decisions. The return of Daisy’s dad Calvin Zabo (previously know as Mr. Hyde) was hinted at in the season three finale, and Mr. Hyde was the first villain Robbie fought. Will he cross back over the dark side? More importantly, will the Ghost Rider be a friend or foe of S.H.I.E.L.D.?