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- Published on Amazon.com
I'm not going to lie - I don't get the love for this book. From the paper stock (non-matted) to the writing (tedious and boring), Nick Fury vs. Shield might have been good fun for its time, but it looks exceedingly dated and irrelevant today. It feels like an attempted cash-in, given the success of Marvel-related products in other media.
There is one positive. The art works looks great. I know this is the standard apologetic for any comic, but it's really true here. Some panels are just fantastic. I was exceptionally pleased at instances, e.g., where I believed that certain panels actually depicted robots, rather than humans (e.g. Nick Fury and his Life Model Decoy). They don't really look qualitatively different from other instances of characters, but the expressions make me believe that this is a robot (now, I can understand if someone further says, "But if they look like robots, wouldn't that defeat their purpose as decoys?", which is why robot decoys are bad ideas in comics in general). The colors are great, and the art just evokes...motion sometimes. I would advise anyone who is purchasing this to take one cursory "read", doing nothing but turning through the pages and admiring the panels.
The exceptions to the great artwork are the covers themselves. They look hilarious. I don't like beating up on artists, but wow - some of these covers are pretty bad. For example, the cover to issue one, apparently attempting to evoke images of spy novels of the past (with some James Bond influences) depicts a topless woman covering her breasts with two guns. Strangely, however, she only seems to have one holster on her belt. Moreover, it looks like she was sawed in half, and then glued together in an ineffectual manner. Another image shows a man holding a white-haired woman, screaming while firing a gun. His face looks like it was torn in half, and put together, again in an ineffectual manner. I don't deduct any stars for this.
So why the low rating? Well, one reason is the paper quality. For a book with a forty-dollar cover, I expect something better. If you must use this type of paper, make it heavier. Better yet, consider the paper stock of many of the DC archives (a matted, heavy stock that was reminiscent of the type of paper that was required for submission of my thesis to the LoC archives).
But the main reason is the turgid, tedious writing. God, this is painful to read. From the opening scenes, it immediately feels dated and boring. At times, it actually felt like a poor localization of a foreign work. Everyone just says way too much. I don't mind wisecracks under fire - writers have gotten great use out of this (Joss Whedon has made a career of it). But brevity is the soul of wit - if you need five lines for your zinger, I'm bored.
There's just too much exposition. The authors should have given the readers more credit. It's not like writers of the time didn't understand this (e.g., look at Grant Morrison's breezy dialogue in his run of Doom Patrol, which started in 1989). And obviously, I don't expect all writers to be Grant Morrison, but there has to be a happy medium. It took me four attempts (and two full restarts) before I could get through this, and if you have to "get through" a comic, it's not a comic anymore.
At the end of the day, I got this book, in hardcover, for under eight bucks. I can't argue with that price, even with my dislike of the work. The art alone is worth that. Prices are currently good here on Amazon as well. So, let me give a final, Objectivist rating system:
If you purchase this for less than ten bucks: 5 stars
If you purchase for between ten and fifteen: 4 stars
If you purchase for between fifteen and twenty-five: 3 stars
If you purchase for more than twenty-five: 2 stars