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S.H.I.E.L.D. #4: Review

Dec 2011
Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver

Story Name:

All together now

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 Review by (June 25, 2019)
Rachel Rosenberg and Christina Strain help Sonia Oback with the colouring for this issue.

The Last Caliphate will be given names next issue.

This series then disappeared for several years after this issue. But it returned in 2018 with the last issue #5-6 under the title S.H.I.E.L.D. By Hickman And Weaver vol 1. However I shall just list them as #5-6 of *this* vol 2.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
It's still 1960. Isaac Newton has fled to the future (2060 where he expects humanity to end) and the Star Child has followed him. And our heroes intend to follow them both.

Night Machine/Nikola Tesla leads Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards to the Zargos Mountains to a cavern full of translucent cylindrical chambers, with a secret chamber below containing 3 men in stasis tubes. (The Forever Man had directed him there before in SHIELD: Infinity.) Tesla raises the 3 men out of their hole and they connect them up to the other tubes which are already linked up. Then Night Machine supplies the power to wake the 3 up.

Meanwhile captions explain to or remind us who these 3 are. There were 2 organisations from ancient times, the Brotherhood Of The Shield in the West and the Brotherhood Of The Spear in the East. In recent centuries the Western branch shrank to a secret society while the Eastern half broke apart. But these 3 Arabs were hidden away before the Spear disintegrated at the behest of the Forever Man to save the future. They are the Last Caliphate, the 3 Brothers of Causality.

They all return to the Immortal City, HQ of the Brotherhood Of The Shield beneath Rome. There wait FM, Leonardo da Vinci, Nostradamus and Leonid. The Caliphate greet Michelangelo (the Forever Man). As they will always do they speak in sequence as if they know what each will say. Tesla tells Leonid that "They are the embodiment of branching time. What is, what has come before and what will be." (He said the last half in S:I too.) Leonid says "Huh?" (and I echo him).

Leonardo's Human Machine has grown into a very large sphere, with the diagram from v1#1 drawn on the side. He depresses the diagram and it opens as a hatch. Then he ushers the others inside. There are seating or standing positions for them all, and when they take them up they mirror the diagram.

Michelangelo is Section 2: the Engine, also described as the drive, total illumination and the agent of destiny.
The Caliphate occupy the 3 circles in Section 3: the Navigator, which was even in #1 called what is, what has come before and what will be, the Last Caliphate.
Section 4 holds Leonid as the Source, described as the water in the well, the generator and hope.
The next 2 circles are side-by-side but described separately:-
Section 5 is Howard Stark, the Mechanism, the short end of all possibility, practical application and the work.
Section 6 is Nikola Tesla, the Conduit, the change medium and the measurement of progress.
Finally Section 7 is the Path, the death of chaos, the single portion and tomorrow. It is 1 circle on the diagram but here contains 2 seats holding Nathaniel Richards and Nostradamus.
Da Vinci will remain behind as Section 1, the Anchor, described as the sacrifice, the man left behind and the builder.
Many of these assignments have been foreshadowed in the earlier issues.

Leonid switches on his cosmic power and they're off through 100 years of Marvel history (some of which hasn't happened yet). We see:-
Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the birth of the Fantastic Four.
The young X-Men, Hulk, the Avengers reanimating Captain America and the new X-Men.
The Kree-Skrull War, the death of Dark Phoenix and a Spider-Man.
Then on into alternate futures:-
Days Of Future Past, Hope Summers and Valeria Von Doom.
Ultron, the Next Avengers and Maestro.
And then destruction.

Then the Human Machine 'lands' in 3 different 2060's labelled:- The Rebirth Of Man. The Height Of Modernity. The End Of The World.

The Rebirth Of Man is a lush jungle (with inhabitants who are staying hidden) which Nostradamus calls "The rebirth, The beginning of all that can be. The broken loop. The eternal promise. This is how the world begins." The Caliphate describe it as "Paradise, but all knowledge lost."

The Height Of Modernity is a futuristic city which Nostradamus calls "The next step. The arc of ascendancy. The feedback loop. Tomorrow's tomorrow. This is how the world could be." The Caliphate describe it as "Paradise. Centuries lost but millennia gained."

The End Of The World is a wasteland which Nostradamus calls "The end. The end of all that was. The closed loop. The eternal promise. This is how the world ends." And the Caliphate describe it as "A wasteland. Centuries lost, for what?"

Events transpire very similarly in all 3 scenarios. They spot a similar building - covered in plant growth, brand new or ruined. Night Machine flies to investigate and gets zapped. Stark generates 1 of his self-building guns, and tells Richards to arm the Caliphate. The symbol for 2060 appears on Nostradamus' forehead. Newton comes out of the building, and the Caliphate describe him as "Betrayer. Prophet. The man who remade the world", "Betrayer. Anachronist. The man who could not defeat the future" or "Betrayer. Apostate. The man who is going to destroy the world".

At Newton's signal the building shakes off its outside to reveal the giant Star-Child. Our travellers attack (including Tesla's bird/woman companion, but excluding FM and Nostradamus) and Newton and the Celestial fire back. Across all realities Michelangelo prepares the Human Machine for the final task.

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> S.H.I.E.L.D.: Book info and issue index

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Dustin Weaver
Dustin Weaver
Sonia Oback
Gerald Parel (Cover Penciler)
Gerald Parel (Cover Inker)
Gerald Parel (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Todd Klein.
Editor: Nick Lowe. Editor-in-chief: Axel Alonso.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Brotherhood Of The Shield, Forever Man (Michelangelo), Howard Stark, Isaac Newton, Last Caliphate, Leonardo da Vinci, Leonid, Nathaniel Richards, Night Machine (Nikola Tesla), Nostradamus, Star Child.