The trade paperback Battle Scars collects all six issues written by Yost, Bunn and Fraction and illustrated by Scot Eaton. The story follows U.S. Army Ranger Marcus Johnson, whose mother an “innocent” school teacher is killed while his is serving overseas. When Johnson returns for her funeral he discovers that he has a bounty on his head and some of the world’s most dangers assassins including Taskmaster and Deadpool are looking to collect, dead or alive. Though put under the protection of S.H.I.E.L.D., Johnson escapes their custody to solve the mystery of why someone killed his mother, targeted him, and the identity of his father who he never knew. While on this journey, he is assisted by a fellow Ranger named Cheese. The two ordinary men bring their training and friendship into a world of superheroes and super villains. By the time the action packed story concludes, the image of Nick Fury is reconciled with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I enjoyed this story. I did not pick up the trade thinking I would need to think deeply. What I was hoping for was escapist adventure, and the creators delivered that in spades. This story is full of action. It is really fast paced. And you come to sympathize with Marcus as you want to help him uncover the mystery around him. Because I had seen much of the plot in internet searches earlier I was spoiled to some key point story points and reveals. But I still wanted to keep up with Johnson as he uncovered the mystery surrounding his life. Additionally, I really liked the character of Cheese. Though he lacks flash, his skill and loyalty shine throughout the story.
Again, minor spoilers, at the end of this issue S.H.I.E.L.D. gains two key agents. The first Nick Fury Jr., is an African-American with an eye patch and movie matching scars. If anything the biggest difference between this Fury and the movie version is a Captain America stylized uniform, a gift from Cap himself. Additionally this Nick Fury Jr. is a field commander not the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. This role is continued into the Secret Avengers series which launched in 2013. The other agent is Phil Coulson, suit and all. The writers make it clear that this version of Coulson is a highly trained fighter, who is as expected a Captain America fanboy. We get glimpses of Coulson in this book in the midst of fire fights and the reader understands he is a man of action. I like how he is depicted here more than Secret Avengers where he seemed more like a salesman than a hero to me. I would say if the Marvel Cinematic Universe was able to develop the Fury/Coulson back story that we find in Battle Scars, Coulson’s final act in The Avengers would have even more impact!
|Fury and Coulson, Together for the First Time!|