Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. won't return until March 3, but Coulson & Co. aren't disappearing altogether during the hiatus. On Wednesday, Dec. 31, Marvel Comics releases the first issue of a S.H.I.E.L.D. comic book, based on the spy agency at the heart of the ABC sci-fi series. Several characters created for the TV show — including Agents May, Fitz and Simmons — will make their comic debut in the monthly title. At the center of it all will be Coulson, the character created by Clark Gregg in the Marvel movies and now headlining the TV series.
"The appeal really was being able to do a tour throughout the Marvel Universe, and be able to mix and match some of the Marvel superheroes that you don't normally see together," says writer Mark Waid. "The way we're playing Coulson, and it's very similar to the way he's played in the movie-verse, is one of his real gifts is that because he knows the superhero community so well, he's very good at mixing and matching and finding the right agents in the Marvel Universe for the right job."
The stories won't directly tie in to the series' current plotlines, but the comic "shares the DNA of the TV characters," promises Waid, whose many credits include Marvel'sDaredevil and Captain America and DC Comics' The Flash and Kingdom Come. "The big difference is that we have no budgetary restrictions. That was the marching order from Marvel: Do the TV show, but if you need to set an issue in deep space or in Atlantis at the bottom of the ocean or with a hundred superheroes, feel free."
To that end, issue No. 1 (with art by Carlos Pacheco) features a massive gathering of heroes uniting to deal with a mystical attack on Earth. "The first one we decided to go really big and do a lot of cosmic stuff, a lot of science fiction stuff, and as many of the Marvel heroes as we could, without losing focus on Coulson," Waid says.
The second issue, on the other hand, takes a smaller focus, with Agent Simmons (played by Elizabeth Henstridge on the TV show) going undercover at a Brooklyn high school where a student has been gun-running lost villain technology. "The idea," says Waid, "is to do standalone stories where there's a running subplot that starts to play out bigger in issues 5 and 6."