'Shield #1' from Archie Comics relaunch: Chuck Wendig & Adam Christopher interview
"She is not just a gender-swapped carbon copy ... our Shield has a new origin, a new history, a new story and purpose that is entirely her own."
Over the past year, Archie Comics has been making quite a splash. Following an Archie reboot from Fiona Staples (Saga) and Mark Waid (Daredevil, and the recent debut of a new ongoing Jughead series by Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) and Erica Henderson (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), the company is gearing up to relaunch one of their most iconic superheroes: The Shield.
Written by best-selling novelists Adam Christopher (Elementary tie-in novels) and Chuck Wendig (Star Wars Aftermath) with art by Drew Johnson, Rachel Deering and Kelly Fitzpatrick, The Shield emerges this fall as an entirely re-imagined character: a young woman named Victoria Adams.
Don’t call Victoria a gender-swapped version of the original Shield, though — the creative team promises that the character will be wholly different, despite sharing her moniker. In advance of the first issue, which hits comic shops Oct. 21, EW spoke to Wendig and Christopher about Shield’s new stories, and how Victoria is poised to join the ranks of characters like Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman and Batgirl. Read on for more and check out exclusive preview pages and variant covers by Wilfredo Torres, Andrew Robinson, Rafael Albuquerque, and Robert Hack.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I know you both have background with the comic and the character, so how did your respective experiences with The Shield help you put this new and re-imagined book together?
CHUCK WENDIG: I actually come to the character a bit wet behind the ears, so for me a lot of it was looking at the original character and finding ways to upgrade those ideas and themes to a more modern, mature comic. (And let’s be clear, this is an entirely different character. In fact, the original Shield may still be kicking around somewhere in this story world…)
ADAM CHRISTOPHER: I discovered The Shield back around 2010, when the Archie superheroes were licensed to DC Comics. From there, I went back into the archives and discovered this whole universe of characters, and I was hooked. Being invited to reimagine such an iconic character is an opportunity that rarely presents itself, but as Chuck says, our version ofThe Shield is a completely new character, taking the core concept and principles of the original to craft something new and original. But again, that’s not something that comes up often — it’s an honor, really, and is tremendously exciting.
The character is such a prominent part of Dark Circle Comics but it also has its own fanbase that, understandably, is very passionate about the character. So no pressure with this, right? In all seriousness, how do you combat that kind of pressure when you’re working on a book like this?
WENDIG: At the end of the day, our job is to tell a good story. So, while we always want to consider fans and fan-service, the priority is to figure out how we best tell this tale to the maximum of our ability, our satisfaction, and hope the audience is along for the ride. Looking at it that way undercuts the pressure a little bit. Just a little!
CHRISTOPHER: Also we’ve created something that is new, which also keeps the original character and continuity as a major touchstone, and indeed, we might even see the original Shield at some point. Sure, there is pressure and anticipation there, but we’re telling a new story in a new way. I’m a fan of The Shield and I see our new version as continuing that long-established legacy, and I hope that other fans will see that too.
How did you find the balance between working in parts of the original comic, but also adding your own specific ideas and takes to it? I’d imagine there’s a very delicate line that you have to work with.
WENDIG: Well, as noted, this is a whole different character — the moniker is the same, but Victoria is an original incarnation of that moniker. So, for us it’s more about looking at the former comic and then building off of what was there rather than reinventing the wheel or rebooting anything.
CHRISTOPHER: Certainly this character — and her story — is nothing like the original Shield. She is not just a gender-swapped carbon copy. And while the old character, history, continuity, is all still there somewhere, we’re not really using that as a foundation for our comic. Our Shield has a new origin, a new history, a new story and purpose that is entirely her own. So that gives us huge freedom, both in terms of storyline and character development. At the same time, because the last 70 years or so of history still exist in some form, we can dip in and out as we like, maintaining those links, but only when we need to.
The Shield has always been an iconic character but with the growing trend of more female representation in both the comic world and superhero world, it seems like this is a great time to relaunch the book. Are you looking forward to seeing how people relate to her this time around?
WENDIG: Eager to see it! She’s a complex character for a complex world and far more of a gray character, I think, than someone of black-and-white morality, so I hope she keeps folks excited and interested in seeing more of her adventures.
CHRISTOPHER: To be honest, this is so exciting — I think we’re in something of a new golden age of comics, and I can’t wait for The Shield to take her first step into the world. I love superheroes, but we need diversity because the audience is diverse — and comic books need to reflect this. For our version of The Shield to be even just a small part of that movement is amazing.
Can you share what it’s been like to work with Drew [Johnson] as an artist? This book was a long time in the making and obviously, his style seems like it fits right in with the tone.
WENDIG: Drew’s been amazing. We get new art in our inboxes daily. It’s like little presents. He helps form the visual look and the narrative of the story.
CHRISTOPHER: It really is like Christmas when Drew’s art arrives — he’s supremely talented, not just as an artist but as a storyteller. He knows exactly what works on the page and what doesn’t, and often he’ll take something we’ve written in our scripts and transform it completely. Seeing our story told through someone else’s eyes — someone as awesome as Drew — is immensely satisfying. Combine it with colors from Kelly Fitzpatrick, and this book looks absolutely beautiful.
Speaking of collaboration, how is it working together as writers?
WENDIG: We fight with sticks and spears to determine who gets to write what issue. Either that, or we share duties 50/50. But probably the sticks and spears thing.
CHRISTOPHER: Ha! It really is a 50/50 split, both for plotting and scripting. We actually alternate issues, with the other writer then responsible for the first-pass edit. But once a script has been through two, three, four, five passes, it becomes impossible to separate who wrote what. Our collaboration really works because we’re such different writers — if you look at our novels, they are completely dissimilar in style and voice. This is perfect for a comic collaboration, because when you mesh our writing together so tightly you get something unique, something that neither of us could have written alone. Each of us will come up with ideas that the other couldn’t have thought of. Creatively it’s very satisfying, and I think the final result is all the better for it.
What can you tease for readers about the book? What should they be excited about?
WENDIG: Two words: BLACK SEVEN.
CHRISTOPHER: Ah yes, Walter Chase. He’s a very, very bad man. But I think folks should really dig Victoria Adams — the Shield herself. She’s smart, she’s strong, she’s kick-ass and she’s not afraid to punch giant robots in the face. I absolutely adore her, and I hope our readers will too.