Several years ago I went searching for a new comic book to read. Growing tired of the likes of Batman and Spider-Man, I was hoping for some new adventure to get lost in. My main concern was with finding a character named Steven. Sure, growing up in Forest Hills I felt a certain relationship with Peter Parker, but my first name wasn’t Peter. So in an exhaustive search I found two particular books, but the one that stood out was Captain America. I bought a few issues of the Rob Liefeld Captain America and brought them home. I liked the story, I loved Steve Rogers (his name was Steve!), and promised my teenaged self that the day they make a Captain America film I would muster all of my enthusiasm for the project! But years later, still loving Captain America and growing very fond of The First Avenger film, I had never stuck with the Marvel comic book series. Last Wednesday, Marvel Comics released “Captain America: Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” one-shot and after finally reading it, I believe I found the comic my teenaged self was searching for all those years ago. While the book was certainly different from what I had hoped it would be, it was still worth reading and filled with the stories and art I love most from Captain America.
“Captain America: Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” at first seems like it might be a one-shot set in the universe of ABC and Marvel Studios “Agent Carter” series set to premiere next month. And this is what initially led me to pick up this issue. As a fan of Agent Carter and all things Hayley Atwell, I was desperately hoping for a MCU title that would reflect the upcoming series and the likeness of London born Atwell. However, I was surprised to learn that the title was nothing more than a collection of four previously published comic books that featured Peggy Carter. I was a bit hesitant to place this at the top of my reading pile, but after remembering my first search for a Captain America book I soon embraced this title. Marvel Comics have edited together a perfect one-shot featuring both the Star-Spangled Man and his partner and one-true love, Peggy Carter.
Opening with a reprint of Kathryn Immonen and Ramon Perez’s Captain America and The First Thirteen, we are introduced to a playful and suspenseful tale from the 1940’s. Agent Carter is one of the top-secret agents and Steve Rogers is one of the top superheroes. He’s “an invaluable member of the resistance” and behind his mask is a man of bravery, courage, and intelligence. Carter is attracted to his qualities hopes for the day that they will meet without their guises or undercover identities. Captain America is involved in a plot to secure a thermal ray weapon, along with rescuing one of her agents. It’s a solid story by Kathryn Immonen that reads like a more modernized version of a classic Captain America issue as told by Lee and Kirby. Captain America feels like a big, American hero, much like the kind of heroes filmmaker Brad Bird and animator Bruce Timm have payed homage to in their careers. Peggy Carter is a more than capable agent who gets the job done. She’s a no non-sense, tough, equally as intelligent as Cap agent filled with the heart of a real person. Immonen, along with Perez’s art, create a story that is as solid as just about any other great Marvel Comic book. Their attention to what makes Captain America and Peggy Carter so unique is what truly stands out. With Immonen’s characterization of Carter, it’s no surprise that Marvel chose this story to be included in the Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. one-shot.
The rest of “Captain America: Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” reprints stories from Stan Lee featured in Tales of Suspense and Captain America and The Falcon. Each story highlights Peggy Carter and her strength as a character worthy of her own stand alone series. As a fan of not only Peggy Carter, but of the golden age of comic books, the “Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” one-shot is not only fun to read, but also nice to look at. Be it Steve McNiven’s more cinematic approach to drawing a scene or Jack Kirby’s unique and universally appealing style, “Captain America: Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has it all. It’s the kind of title I wish was available when I first sought out Captain America almost a decade ago. If you’re looking for anything other than a proper tie-in to “Agent Carter”, Marvel’s one-shot is certainly a fun book to pull. However, it is a disappointment in truly not having any connection to the much-anticipated series starring Hayley Atwell as the feisty S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
“Captain America: Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” gets three out of five stars.