Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return on March 3rd, so hopefully this won’t be too much of a spoiler but I should give fair warning: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD! So if you’re binge watching AoS to catch up, please come back here when you’re done.
Since Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AoS) began airing, some fans have been clamoring for more comic book related storylines and characters. As it turns out, one of the original cast members of AoS is based on an established comic book character…..drum roll….Skye is really Daisy “Quake” Johnson!
The episode has been criticized as being insignificant. The Internet could come to that conclusion considering that the mid-season finale of AoS pulled in 5 million viewers, (not including those watching on DVR or On Demand) and the Secret Avengers comics, which featured Quake, sold about twenty thousand hard copies a month. So to everyone else, they just know the guy from Sex and The City is her dad, who’s named “Cal” and he calls her Daisy, not Skye. This revelation was probably met with a “who?” and a “she’s-a-what-now?” to non comic book reading fans and perhaps, more specifically, to non-Secret Avengers readers, which is very likely the majority of TV viewers.
Considering Skye/Daisy‘s heritage and origin have been an ongoing mystery (she was classified a 0-8-4, object of unknown origin) since the early episodes of the series, one would expect the reveal would be somewhat more epic. Given the fact that the source material of the show is the biggest comic book publisher in the world you would hope it is someone even the most casual of fans would have heard of, like…I dunno….Spider-Woman, She-Hulk, White Tiger, Ms. Marvel…or even Squirrel Girl.
But the fact is that the Whedon’s actually are big fans of Quake and have had their eyes on her from the start.
MAURISSA TANCHAROEN: That was our goal from the beginning. Of course, there are always the series of clearances, but we always knew we wanted to evolve Skye into something else. Daisy Johnson was the main character that we wanted to go for. We got confirmation on that very early on, so we’ve been on that track ever since. (‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ reveals Skye’s true identity — what’s next? – Abrams, Natalie – Entertainment Weekly – December 10 2014)
If you haven’t been reading comics in the last 10 years, or like me, just not keeping up with every minutiae of Earth-616, you probably missed reading about Daisy “Quake” Johnson. She’s been busy: Daisy Johnson has made almost 200 appearances playing key roles in major storylines like Secret Invasion. First introduced in 2004 in the Secret War limited series as Daisy Johnson, Quake was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabriele Dell’Otto, who modeled her after Angelina Jolie’s likeness in the movie Hackers,
perhaps influencing Skye’s skill set. Her biggest win is knocking out Magneto by vibrating his brain. Daisy started off as Nick Fury’s protege, then the team leader of the Secret Warriors in the comic of the same name and then one time director of S.H.I.E.L.D. One of her most recent appearances was in Secret Avengers #16 in early 2014 and she is currently appearing in Bucky Barnes Winter Soldier.
Although not exactly obscure (are there any Quake action figures or underoos out there?) to regular readers of the Avengers titles, she was not too mainstream that the Whedon’s couldn’t take artistic license with her origin.
In the comics, Daisy, is the daughter of the scientist Calvin Zabo. Zabo successfully replicated Dr. Jekyll’s experiment and can transform into the villainous Mister Hyde. Her abilities are due to the genetic damage passed on from her father’s chemical experiments.
In the MCU, Skye/Daisy is the daughter of Cal, a doctor who inexplicably exhibits feats of super-strength and a hot temper. Her mother is descended of people that were genetically engineered by the Kree thousands of years ago (aka Inhuman, although not explicitly named as such in the AoS TV show.)
The Inhumans film is slated for 2019, here is my list (although not updated to include the MCU Spider-Man film, also….HALLELUJAH!!), so why mention them in the MCU now? Well, speculation is that due to licensing rights sold to Fox, the MCU cannot refer to mutants in the same context as the X-Men. The Maximoff twins, (aka Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch), which were introduced in the end credits of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and obviously will be prominently featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron, are usually referred to as the mutant children of Magneto. Since they can’t be called mutants in the Marvel films, descendants of genetically altered humans will work just as nicely. Apparently this is reflected in the comics:
In time, the Skye/Daisy/Kree/Inhuman revelation will prove to be not that insignificant. The events in the films Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier have directly and indirectly led to Skye becoming Quake. Inversely, the events on AoS will tie in to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Inhumans, and probably other films in the future.
To get a sense of the big picture, scope out my timeline: (because we all love timelines)
- Millennia ago: Blue-skinned extraterrestrials known as The Kree arrived on Earth. For unknown reasons, they genetically altered a number of humans. The Kree constructed devices that will only open if a genetically altered human brings it to specific locations. When the Kree left Earth, one of their own stayed or was left behind. Whether this Kree died before or after his brethren left is unknown. (AoS S2 E9 Ye Who Enter Here)
- 1942: HYDRA General Werner Reinhardt‘s team discovered the corpse of the Kree extraterrestrial. (AoS S2 E1 Shadows)
- 1945: Somewhere in China, Werner Reinhardt and HYDRA captured a group of villagers who had one of the mysterious Kree devices, or Obelisk. Reinhardt learned that they knew of the alien visitors from their legends. Weeks later, at a HYDRA Fortress in Austria, Reinhardt tested the Obelisk‘s properties on several of the Chinese villagers, many turned to stone and died by simply touching it except for one young woman. Her ancestor’s genetic material by the Kree, allowed her to handle the Obelisk without suffering its lethal effects. Instead, she caused symbols on the device to appear and glow. Before further experiments could be conducted, news of the death of Red Skull arrived (Captain America: The First Avenger), soon followed by the Allied forces. Peggy Carter, Dum Dum Dugan, Jim Morita, and the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) arrest Reinhardt as he attempted to evacuate the HYDRA Fortress. All the artifacts collected by HYDRA, including the alien corpse and the Obelisk, are confiscated by the SSR. Reinhardt is interrogated by Peggy Carter. He relays information about the Obelisk and the Kree, but is sentenced to life imprisonment. (AoS S2 E8 The Things We Bury)
- 1988: Kree outlaws Yondu Udonta and the Ravagers are hired by Peter Quill‘s alien father to bring his earthling son to him. After Meredith Quill dies from a terminal illness, Peter is abducted by the Ravagers. (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Dr. Calvin Zabo, working in the Hunan Province of China, meets and falls in love with the genetically enhanced woman whom Reinhardt intended to experiment on.. Zabo and the woman have a daughter they name Daisy. (AoS S1 E12 Seeds)
- SHIELD Director (and HYDRA mole) Alexander Pierce sets Werner Reinhardt free after 44 years of imprisonment. Reinhardt returns to the HYDRA base in Austria, where HYDRA has brought back villagers from the same Chinese village. Reinhardt recognizes one of the villagers as the same woman from 44 years earlier, who hasn’t aged. Determined to learn her secret of her youth, Reinhardt conducts experiments on her, killing her in the process. As a result of his barbaric studies, Reinhardt is able to revert back to a youthful state. He changes his name to Daniel Whitehall. Calvin Zabo finds his wife’s body in the forest and swears vengeance on her tormentors. (AoS S2 E8 The Things We Bury)
- In search of his daughter, Daisy, Cal butchered the Chinese villagers. Daisy was in the custody of Agents Richard Lumley and Linda Avery, part of a S.H.I.E.L.D. team sent to China to investigate a 0-8-4 , which turns out to be Daisy. She is taken to the United States. Zabo hunted and killed the members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team that saved Daisy. Agent Linda Avery, fearing for her life and Daisy’s, placed the child in the Saint Agnes Orphanage, giving her the name Mary Sue Poots. Agent Avery is eventually murdered by Zabo, leaving Agent Richard Lumley the only survivor of the SHIELD team from the Chinese investigation. (AoS S1 E12 Seeds)
- 2009: Nick Fury issues Project T.A.H.I.T.I., (Terrestrialized Alien Host Integrative Tissue Initiative) in which the bodily fluids of the preserved Kree corpse, recovered in 1945, is harvested for medicinal purposes in order to save a mortally wounded Avenger. (AoS S1 E20 Nothing Personal)
- Phil Coulson discovers the horrific side effects the drug GH.325, derived from the Kree corpse, have on volunteer S.H.I.E.L.D. test subjects. Only by erasing the victim’s memory can the side effects be treated. Coulson recommends Project T.A.H.I.T.I. be shut down but despite Coulson’s concerns, Fury keeps the project running. (AoS S1 E20 Nothing Personal)
- Coulson is killed by Loki. (Marvel’s The Avengers)
- Nick Fury has S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s scientists revive Coulson at the Guest House by using GH.325 and gives him a false memory with The Theta Brain-Wave Frequency Machine of a grass hut in Tahiti. (AoS S1 E13 T.A.H.I.T.I.)
- Coulson assembles a new S.H.I.E.L.D. team consisting of Agents Melinda May, Grant Ward, scientists Leo Fitz, and Jemma Simmons. Skye, now a member of the hacktivist group, Rising Tide, is apprehended by Coulson and his team. (AoS S1 E1 Pilot)
- Weeks later, Coulson has made Skye an official team member as a consultant. He tells her about her parent’s file, keeping certain details from Skye. Later, Coulson tries to access the file regarding his death but is denied. (AoS S1 E7 The Hub)
- While on a mission to apprehend evil industrialist Ian Quinn, Skye is shot in the abdomen by Quinn. Coulson and the team rescue the wounded Skye and place her in the hyperbaric chamber used on Mike Peterson for Project Deathlok. They take her to S.H.I.E.L.D. Trauma Zentrum in Zurich, Switzerland. (AoS S1 E13 T.R.A.C.K.S.)
- Arriving at Trauma Zentrum, Coulson, his team and (HYDRA double agent) John Garrett infiltrate the compound, inadvertently setting off its self-destruct failsafe sequence. While searching for GH.325 for Skye, Coulson discovers the Kree alien corpse, marked G.H. being drained of its bodily fluids in a room marked T.A.H.I.T.I. The team escapes with the serum and administers it to Skye. She is healed by the GH.325 and the Guest House is destroyed. (AoS S1 E14 T.A.H.I.T.I.)
- Sif arrives on Earth to capture the fugitive Asgardian, Lorelei (who escaped imprisonment during the events of Thor: The Dark World). Coulson takes advantage of the opportunity and asks Sif if she’s aware of any blue-skinned aliens. She mentions the Kree as one among many. Coulson discloses that the GH.325 is derived from an alien corpse to Skye. May, having overheard Coulson’s conversation, secretly calls Nick Fury about Coulson’s discovery of the alien and Project T.A.H.I.T.I. (AoS S1 E15 Yes Men)
- Skye is made a Level One S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent (AoS S1 E16 The End of the Beginning)
- Captain America and Black Widow discover the preserved consciousness of Arnim Zola in a supercomputer. Zola reveals that HYDRA has operated secretly within S.H.I.E.L.D. since the 1940’s. Captain America exposes HYDRA’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the public, forcing the hand of all HYDRA agents and causing S.H.I.E.L.D.’s downfall. (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- Revealing himself as a HYDRA mole, John Garrett is captured and taken into custody. During the transfer to the Fridge, Agent Grant Ward frees Garrett, also revealing himself as HYDRA. (AoS S1 E17 Turn, Turn, Turn)
- Grant also frees Raina, an associate of Calvin Zabo. She was one of the scientists who worked on the Centipede Project, on research for creating super-soldiers, which was secretly backed by HYDRA and headed by Garrett. He instructs Raina to synthesize the drug GH.325. (AoS S1 E18 Providence)
- May tells Coulson that she investigated who was behind Project T.A.H.I.T.I., She discovered a hard drive in Coulson’s fake grave, revealing it was Coulson himself heading the project. Coulson is surprised to learn this since his memories have been erased. (AoS S1 E20 Nothing Personal)
- Raina administered Garrett with the synthesized GH.325, healing his wounds and giving him super strength but also the adverse side effects, compulsively writing strange symbols. Coulson also starts to suffer the same side effects of GH.325, writing the same symbols as Garrett. Raina tells Calvin Zabo that she knows the whereabouts of his daughter. (AoS S1 E21 Ragtag)
- At a HYDRA Base, containing Loki’s scepter and where the Maximoff twins are being held, Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker declares that they are in an “Age of Miracles” (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- The Nova and Kree Empires sign a peace treaty, issuing a cease fire to their thousand year war. (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- The Obelisk, in SHIELD’s possession since 1945, is being sought after by HYDRA operative Crusher Creel (The Absorbing Man in Marvel Comics) Coulson realizes that this artifact, the first designated 0-8-4, is somehow important to HYDRA. Agent May and the team intercept Creel before he attacks Brigadier General Talbot, whom S.H.I.E.L.D. deceives into giving them the location of a warehouse of SHIELD artifacts in Washington DC. At the warehouse, the team finds the Obelisk but are attacked by Creel. He retrieves it for his employer Sunil Bakshi, Whitehall’s right hand man. (AoS S2 E1 Shadows)
- Creel, who had absorbed the properties of the Obelisk, is found by Raina. She unsuccessfully negotiates for the Obelisk. Raina then contacts Coulson and gives him the location of a meeting between Creel and his HYDRA superior. When the team attempted to apprehend Creel, a fight ensues. During the fight, Raina takes off with the Obelisk and delivers it to Cal, known as “The Doctor” at this point. She discovered that she also is able to hold it without being killed. “The Doctor” promises to tell her its secrets once Skye is delivered to him. (AoS S2 E2 Heavy is the Head)
- At the church Santa Maria de las Flores in Miami, Florida, a 500-year-old painting, is discovered to have the same strange markings engraved on its back that Coulson has been compulsively carving. Raina, on her way to investigate, is confronted by Daniel Whitehall who gives her 48 hours to return the Obelisk to him or be killed. (S2 E4 Face My Enemy)
- Agent Jemma Simmons is working as a mole inside HYDRA. Raina photographs Simmons at the facility and blackmails Coulson into protecting her from Whitehall. Meanwhile, Agent Skye is investigating incidents of the alien symbols being carved in various places and objects. Ward, now a prisoner of S.H.I.E.L.D., recalls that he saw his mentor Garrett carve the same symbols after being injected with the GH.325. Skye confronts Coulson, who confirms that he’s been carving the symbols. But Skye hasn’t done the same despite also being injected by GH.325, Coulson believes this may be because she may already have alien DNA. Skye looks at Coulson’s carvings and surmises that it is a map. Coulson gets Raina to reveal the hideout of “The Doctor”, but when SHIELD arrives, The Doctor and the Obelisk are gone. “The Doctor” has taken the Obelisk (called the Diviner by the Kree) to HYDRA. (AoS S2 E5 A Hen in the Wolf House)
- Agent Skye shows Coulson crime scene photos of a woman who has been murdered, her body carved with the alien symbols. Simmons performed an autopsy on the body, discovering that both the victim and the killer had GH.325 in their blood. Using The Theta Brain-Wave Frequency Machine, Coulson recalls suppressed memories of the T.A.H.I.T.I. Project. The patients first appeared normal, then obsessively drawing alien symbols everywhere. When Coulson wanted to shut down the program, he was told that by erasing the patients’ memories they would have no knowledge of what was done to them and could carry out normal lives. Recollecting the patients’ names, Coulson realized that one of them, Sebastian Derik, has been hunting down the other patients. Coulson rushes to the last surviving patient, Hank Thompson, first and (at gunpoint) learns that he has not been drawing symbols. Derik arrives and subdues both Coulson and Thompson, restraining them in the workshop. Thompson escapes using his deep-rooted S.H.I.E.L.D. training and breaks Coulson free. Coulson struggles with Derik in the loft of the workshop, trying to get him to look down at a large toy train track system Thompson had been building with his son. Thompson subconsciously built a 3D model of the alien writing which turned out to be the blueprints of a city.
Coulson briefs all personnel at the Playground that it is now S.H.I.E.L.D.’s primary task to find the mystery city before HYDRA. (AoS S2 E7 The Writing on the Wall)
- Daniel Whitehall, (or Reinhardt) is told by Cal (or “The Doctor”) that to unlock the power of the Obelisk, (or The Diviner), it must be taken to a hidden alien city by someone that it divines to be worthy of the power. Coulson, Agents Skye, Leo Fitz, and Antoine Triplett hack into a satellite feed to search for the alien city but are attacked by HYDRA, Triplett is shot. A doctor offers to help, but when talking with Coulson, he accidentally reveals himself to be “The Doctor”. When Coulson refers to Cal’s daughter as Skye, he gets angry, claiming that is not her real name. Eventually, the satellite finds a locale for the hidden city under San Juan, Puerto Rico. (AoS S2 E8 The Things We Bury)
- Coulson takes Agents Bobbi Morse, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons, and Alphonso “Mack” MacKenzie with him to Puerto Rico, and sends May, Skye, and Lance Hunter to collect Raina and the twin Agents Koenig. Skye tells Raina that HYDRA has the Obelisk. Realizing that S.H.I.E.L.D. only want her because she can hold the Obelisk without being killed and could take it into the hidden city, Raina wants to see what she could become. Raina then tells Skye that although her father, a monstrous murderer now working with HYDRA, is a good man. He found her in Thailand and showed her that she could be much more. All the while however, he just wanted to find Skye. Raina also explains that the Obelisk was left behind by the Kree to divine who is worthy to inherit the Earth. Only one of these people, like Raina and perhaps Skye, can go to the city with the Obelisk and unlock their true potential. S.H.I.E.L.D. traitor and HYDRA Agent Grant Ward finds Skye using a tracker embedded within Raina. Ward takes Skye, Raina and the coordinates of the underground city in Puerto Rico. (AoS S2 E9 …Ye Who Enter Here)
- S.H.I.E.L.D. races to the hidden Kree city to destroy it before HYDRA can get to it with the Obelisk. Ward delivers his prisoner, Skye, to her father. He introduces himself as Cal. He explains that her mother came from a line of people with gifts and was abducted by HYDRA leader Daniel Whitehall, who then killed her and Cal swore vengeance on him. Whitehall realizes Cal’s identity and has Cal, Skye and Ward imprisoned. Coulson, May, Morse and Hunter arrive and attack HYDRA. Meanwhile, Agents Triplett, Fitz and Simmons, enter the city, placing explosives around the temple. Cal finds Whitehall, ready to exact his revenge but is denied when Whitehall is killed by Coulson. Cal attacks Coulson but is stopped by Skye when she threatens to kill him. Cal leaves but not before revealing that her real name is Daisy. Skye then goes after Raina, who has taken the Obelisk down to the city. Coulson pursues Skye. Because of this, Trip races to disarm the explosives around the temple. Skye finds Raina waiting for her inside the temple. The temple begins to close but Trip gets in before the room is sealed off, Coulson is left outside. Inside the Temple, The Obelisk opens, revealing crystals and releasing a mist. As a result of the mist, Skye and Raina are cocooned. Believing this is harming them, Trip tries to save them by destroying the Obelisk and the crystals. Trip is struck by a shard of the Obelisk. Raina’s cocoon cracks, her appearance seems to have been altered. Skye erupts out of her cocoon, but she watches Trip crumble to death in front of her, despair triggering her quake powers. In another part of the world, another Obelisk glows. A man with no eyes says that “there’s someone new” and that he’s “on it” into the phone. (AoS S2 E10 What They Become)
The Whedons changed Quake’s origin just enough so that all the non-comic-reading-TV-viewing-movie-goers need to know is that Skye/Daisy/Quake shares her name(s) with a comic book character. The MCU has given us is about 60 hours of filmed entertainment so far with the films, TV series and the one-shots. And more is slated with the films for Phase 3 and the Netflix series. The Inhuman storyline is just one, albeit not insignificant, but a major aspect of the MCU. The Internet will tell you these revelations and storylines are insignificant to viewers who don’t read the original comics, but they can experience these films and shows without reading comics and still be entertained by these shows. Just like the first time comic readers read about the Inhumans in Fantastic Four #45, they can just watch the saga unfold. I can only speak for what happens in my household but when I start spouting comic trivia whilst watching comic book related films, I get blank stares from my children and girlfriend. So, I’ve tempered my snobby tone and bring it up sparingly or just when asked. True, it may be a little interesting for some to hear about the source material of the stories but that should not take away from their enjoyment nor should they feel left out for not knowing about it beforehand. We can all sit back and enjoy the show together.