It occured to me approximately a quarter of the way through last night’s episode that this is the first season of Agents of SHIELD with a pitch that would compel me to pick up the comic. “A new spirit of vengeance is developing a reputation as a serial killer on the west coast. It’s up to rogue SHIELD agents to track down Ghost Rider and bring him to justice.”
It’s a flawed title that would have drawn horrible Batman v. Superman comparisons, but Ghost Rider v. SHIELD is actually interesting to me, even though I’ve never found myself much invested in the avenging spirit. Plus, the MCU has the advantage of introducing Robbie Reyes, which means the secret to watching Agents of SHIELD is to watch Ghost Rider season one (with a side of SHIELD agents).
As Ghost Rider season one, AoS season four is off to a respectably strong start. Episode Two didn’t hit the highs of episode one (it never does), but Ghost Rider is on the trail of a supernatural conspiracy that we now know to involve the Darkhold, a serious deep-cut from the vault of Marvel Universe literature.
This show will never be as smart as Jessica Jones, or as committed at bringing Marvel Comics to life as Daredevil, but the addition of Ghost Rider is increasingly selling me on Agents of SHIELD’s simple entertainment. I was excited to watch Agents of SHIELD last night, and that hasn’t been the case the Simmons ‘Lost in Space’ episode of season three.
The reality, of course, is that Ghost Rider is only a piece of the puzzle, with an honest-to-goodness ghost story, Whedon-y haunted spirits, and an all-new all-different Director of SHIELD.
My biggest test for Agents of SHIELD, and network comic book TV in general, is whether or not I could have easily skipped the episode on-demand and missed anything meaningful. With over 20 episodes a season, this happens frequently, not just on Agents of SHIELD but on Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, etc.
Agents of SHIELD season four episode two passed the test.
3 Takeaways From Agents of SHIELD Season Four Episode 2
It drive anybody else up a wall when characters reference what a great director Coulson would make? He was a HORRIBLE Director of SHIELD. At the risk of sounding like a presidential candidate, he was the worst Director of SHIELD we’ve ever seen!
It’s worth remembering that in 5-7 minute spurts, early Phil Coulson was perhaps the greatest MCU creation of them all. But as Director of SHIELD? Just terrible!
Speaking of the new Director of SHIELD, I was initially disappointed at the lack of MCU continuity (wouldn’t it make the most sense after Civil War for SHIELD to be taken over by someone we know?). Nonetheless, the new addition is promising, particularly with the late episode twist for the character.
3) Strange Marvel
In advance of Doctor Strange this November, it’s increasingly fascinating what artifacts, lore, and characters from the realms of magic will make it to the MCU. I’m a big fan of including Ghost Rider as part of this supernatural dimension, and digging deep for ancient tomes that influenced the Neonomicon is exactly what I want to see more of.
If we get a Morgana Le Fay or Doctor Druid appearance in Agents of SHIELD, I’ll scream.
What did you think? Do what feels right to you in the comments.