Review by Ian Keogh
Back in the 1940s before hitting on their signature character, Archie Comics had a different publishing name and turned out short-lived superheroes. Roughly once a decade since then, those characters have been revived, and whether good (1990s), bad (1980s) or insane (1960s), they’ve never earned an audience sustaining them beyond a year or so. In 2017 Archie created the Dark Circle imprint for yet another revival.
The Shield of 2017 had a couple of strikes, the first being that a notably successful TV show had usurped the title since the Shield was last in print. Furthermore, as noted in the introduction, as a patriotic hero, the Shield has rarely been more than a Captain America clone, despite first appearing several months earlier than Cap, so the first order of duty for the writing team of Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig was to distance the identity. The most obvious way of doing that was to have this Shield be a woman, Victoria Adams, although it takes a while before we learn the name of the person whose narrative captions we’re reading. Along with Victoria comes a whole backstory of superbly athletic and combat ready patriots known as the Shield through the centuries, and secret societies dating back to the times of the American Revolution. To further distance this from earlier versions of the Shield there are distinct adult touches, copious mild swearing and unpleasant explicit violence.
Three separate artists don’t hurt Daughter of the Revolution too much despite their different styles. Drew Johnson (sample art) contributes the most, his people a little stiff on occasion, but with a clear style, which is picked up by Al Barrionuevo. Gregg Scott’s final chapter pages are a little grittier, and he prefers his viewpoint at a distance, but he’s equally good.
Christopher and Wendig arrange their narrative to exploit escalating violence while perpetuating the mystery of who Victoria is, some elements recognisable to anyone who follows overseas news. It’s all good until the point where the realisation drops that there is no concrete explanation, just vague hints. Who the villain is, how he became so capable and what he’s done to Victoria is never clearly explained, so we just have to take everything for granted and the mysteries are kept secret. This would be acceptable if there was a continuation, but there wasn’t, and an indication of how well this was received is that two years after publication Archie’s own website was selling this $14.99 graphic novel for $3.99.
If Daughter of the Revolution seems thicker than expected for a four chapter graphic novel, that’s because it includes the opening chapter of Frank Tieri and Felix Ruiz’s Hangman graphic novel and numerous variant and “unreleased” covers to the comics collected here.