The original patriotic hero (Yes, even before Captain America) has had a lot of revamps in his time, but the Impact Comics version may be my favorite…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Legend Of The Shield #1 awaits!


Writer: Grant Miehm/Mark Waid
Penciler: Grant Miehm
Inker: Jeff Albrecht
Colorist: T. Ziuko
Letterer: A. DeGuzman
Editor: Mike Gold
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $1.00
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $2.00

Previously in Legend Of The Shield: During the Golden Age of comics, it was common for a publisher (and even a single issue) to have super-heroes, funny animals, teen antics and military adventure all together.  As the years went by, that changed: DC Comics focused on their line of superheroes, Archie Comics on their teen comedy books, Harvey Comics on funny animals, poor little rich boys and the spirits of deceased schoolkids, but back in the 1940s, Archie had a large roster of superheroes to choose from.  In 1991, Archie partnered with DC Comics to create the Impact Comics line, taking their superhero properties and presenting them in all-ages stories to target a younger generation of comic readers, using the likes of The Shield, The Fly and The Jaguar to appeal to a new demographic.

We open in Colorado, at a hidden military training facility, 0700 hours…

Lieutenant Hall’s words prove true very quickly, as the squadron of combat helicopters encounters their target: One lone man, on foot.  It seems like an unfair fight, until their machine gun volleys start to ricochet, and the man hefts a boulder to take out one of the gunships.  With on mighty leap, their enemy is upon them…

With the training exercise complete, The Shield radios back to headquarters, advising him that he has neutralized the “hostile” targets, and that they will be returning to base.  Hall and The Shield are calm, but the crew back at the reporting station is ecstatic: The Army has created a superhuman asset!  Of course, the ramrod of the whole affair, one Colonel Higgins, is somewhat more qualified in his response…

Craggy old General Higgins isn’t just a hardcase, no-nonsense jerkface (though all of those descriptors apply), he’s got a very specific target in mind and a very specific reason why Project: SHIELD has been his baby: He is trying to recreate his own childhood hero…

The original Shield (who is described here as resembling Archie/MLJ Comics’ 1940s superhero star, though later issues would make things more complex and alternate-universey) disappeared some thirty years ago, 1991 time, and the General wants to bring back what he represented, and is willing to go to any lengths to do it.  He is so driven that he not only put his own son in the armor, risking the life of his only offspring, he actually crippled that son’s career and got him busted back down to Sergeant with a fake charge, making sure that Joseph Higgins was available for Shield duty…

One of the larger complaints about Impact Comics line, back in the day, was that they were too childish, too aimed at younger readers and thus not interesting to comic fans of 1991 who wanted Wolverine, Sabretooth, Saberine and Wolvertooth and didn’t have time for non-impaling characters.  Mark Waid’s dialogue, some of his earliest work, helps immensely in making this story feel more all-ages than kid-friendly, and in this issue, at least, the plotting is interesting enough to draw in even my jaded 21-year-old self.  Witness as a mysterious man in the shadows discovers Project: SHIELD and takes action…

The cyborg, Mann-X, shares a naming similarity to the Mannexelar material of which The Shield’s armor is constructed, a moment which should get you wondering.  As The Shield goes about his life (spending some time with his mother, estranged from hardcase General Dad as well as ruminating on HIS side of the whole origin story), Mann-X tracks him, arriving at the next test of his capabilities: A test run against fighter jets armed with missiles!

Mann-X attacks without mercy (readers, but not the poor bruised Shield, are aware that his employer is holding someone called “Jenny” to manipulate him into following orders whether he wants to or not.)  The power of the cyborg proves almost too much for The Shield, and Joe is amazed to face someone as powerful as he is in his armor.  Gathering his wits, Joe snarks that he will show the stranger what The Shield is really made of…


It seems that General Higgins may have shafted more than just one person to get his pet project up and running, one of many plot threads brought up in this issue for our newfound hero to follow.  Realizing that he can’t just punch his way out of this, Shield uses his brains and tactical skills, leading Mann-X on a chase to the nearby electrical power station…

The jolt brings Mann-X down, and the army brass present commend Joe on his quick thinking and resourcefulness, much to his father’s chagrin.  Unfortunately, Mann-X awakens and takes it on the run, with The Shield prepared to follow, until…

Joe Higgins is crestfallen that, even having proved himself as a hero in a real crisis, his father is still unimpressed, more focused on having a superhuman under his payroll than in realizing that his son did well.  Of course, the rise of a new superhuman isn’t the kind of thing that can be kept secret for very long…


What is The Web?  Who is Mann-X?  And what of Hauser, his mysterious overlord?  Is General Higgins just driven or is there something sinister about his monomania?  All of these are intriguing hooks, and this book sets off not just The Shield, but the entire Impact line with a bang.  Though things would come apart in the long run, Impact Comics proved a fascinating test, launching future superstars like Mark Waid, Joe Quesada, Mike Parobeck and more.  (I personally love the work of Tom Lyle, who doesn’t get nearly enough attention.)  As a first issue, Legend Of The Shield #1 is first-rate, providing really strong art, an interesting story that manages to integrate TONS Of information about the entire Impact world, and is worth a look when you next see it in a quarter bin, earning a well-deserved 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Shared universes are hard as heck, but this one started off with an impressive bang



Taking two really hard concepts (the massive shared universe and stories accessible to readers of all ages) and doing both well, with excellent art...

User Rating: 3.68 ( 2 votes)

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

1 Comment

  1. Oh man, if this means more Impact Comics line in DC reviews…I can’t wait :)

    I miss Mike Parobeck from his time on the Fly and other comics.

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