Agent Coulson is back, because in a movie about immortal thunder gods and hypergenius alcoholics the internet’s favorite character is an suit who’s dating a cellist. And we genuinely love how that’s not sarcasm. Agent Coulson is the middle manager of ass-kicking.
Now he’s back to head Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, as a collective agency S.H.I.E.L.D. is dumber than Testing Jetpacks In Basements, Inc., and responsible for more explosive employee terminations. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents carry guns in a world where they’re the only people who aren’t bulletproof, and are never not surprised when they don’t work.
Their only defense strategy is hoping that they die noisily enough to be noticed by Iron Man. So it’s no surprise they hire the worst agents in the world. People only apply to S.H.I.E.L.D. when the sewage treatment plant tells them to stop calling.
Edward Corbet, Gargantua
Edward Cobert was hired by S.H.I.E.L.D. to work on Project: Lazarus, also known as the Olympus Project, and you really shouldn’t let people play with super-chemicals when they can’t even decide on a single project name. Especially when both codenames are more obviously evil than “The Obviously Evil Project” followed by five minutes of maniacal laughter.
The fact they funded Project: Lazarus proves that no-one in S.H.I.E.L.D. has even read the names of all their villains. That’s like approving a budget for a black helmet, flowing cape, four thousand gallons of poison and taxi fare to the local reservoir. Cobert injected himself with the serum and became Gargantua, a giant but stupid super-strong smasher of things, because that week Marvel were so lazy they couldn’t even be bothered to paint Hulk green.
Which means that instead of preventing domestic terrorism S.H.I.E.L.D. directly funded it. It’s impossible for any other national service to screw up that bad. The fire department can’t invent new kinds of fire, because people would stop them if they started building evil science labs. Listen, S.H.I.E.L.D., if a scientist tries to inject himself with his own formula you have to immediately shoot him. You may also have to stop hiring diabetics.
Stanley Carter, The Sin Eater
S.H.I.E.L.D. hired Stanley Carter to create experimental super-drugs, because an organization that tries to shoot the Hulk more than once doesn’t even recognize the letters in the phrase “pattern recognition.” He injected himself with experimental drugs, becoming super-strong and increasingly violent, so S.H.I.E.L.D. shut down his program and let him resign. Because just after destroying an inhuman madman’s life’s work is the best time to release them into the civilian population. You’d swear S.H.I.E.L.D. were giving themselves job security by creating their own terror threats.
Stanley joined the NYPD, the perfect job for a drug-addled lunatic with anger issues, and when his partner was killed by criminals he became a vigilante. A vigilante who killed a police captain, a judge, and a priest, and is on experimental drugs, and doesn’t know what the word “vigilante” means.
He eventually went after J. Jonah Jameson for no other reason than he was in a Spider-Man comic, and was gunned down by police. That’s how useless he was: he sucked as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent so much he became a gun-wielding murderer, but sucked as a bad guy so hard that even the police in a Marvel comic could take him down.
Sally Blevins, Skids
Mutant Sally Blevins can generate an impenetrable forcefield which blocks gunshots, deflects energy beams, and can even cancel friction to make her superfast and uncapturable. If you realized that this makes her a genuine James Bond, a double-oh-X capable of running through machine gun fire while infiltrating and escaping any enemy base, well done on being smarter than Sally Blevins. And all of S.H.I.E.L.D. An organization that gets bulk discount on “killed in the line of duty” plaques used their unkillable operative as an undercover agent.
The mission was so stupid you’d swear they were trying to to hide her under the cover of six feet of dirt. They assigned her to infiltrate two rival criminal groups simultaneously. That’s a great way to get murdered even when you’re a real criminal. Her cover story had her help a mutant madman bomb a subway train, disfigure the surviving passengers, then let him kidnap and torture her friend, all despite her invulnerability meaning she could have stopped him at any time. Then she betrayed everyone by giving the recovered information to Magneto instead.
S.H.I.E.L.D. gave her a paycheck to be a triple-crossing terrorist, and they’re the only group she doesn’t help at some point in the story. In a mission with two enemy groups, she involved a third just to score a hat-trick with how badly she betrayed them. Though that might just be anger at being nicknamed after underwear stains.
Eric O’ Grady, Ant-Man
The first and worst thing about Eric O’Grady is that he’s the third Ant-Man. Because when you’re fighting indestructible star-mutants and actual gods, what you really want is more tiny people. He’s equipped with a prototype shrinking suit built by Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, because never mind how Tony Stark has at least five empty Iron Men parked in beach houses he’s forgotten he even owns. What S.H.I.E.L.D. really needs is a shrinking pervert. He uses his armor to peep on female heroes, which S.H.I.E.L.D. treats as naughty hijinks as opposed to a serious sex crime. Which means his true power is embodying pretty much everything wrong with comic book gender issues.
He’s not a Mighty Atom, a genius physicist able to manipulate molecules directly. He really is Ant-Man, able to shrink to insect size and keep regular human strength. Which you’ll notice makes him worse in a fight than someone of regular human size and regular human strength. But since nobody in the Marvel universe has watched Karate Kid, nobody sweeps the leg or makes a brushing motion, so all his enemies obligingly try to jab the smallest target they’ve ever seen so he can dodge their fist and punch them in the face.
He commits several felonies, gets his buddy killed, more felonies, sex crimes, and when he’s finally brought in by S.H.I.E.L.D. they let him keep the armor because he’s the best one at using it. You’ll notice the regular police don’t do that when they catch armed criminals.
David Ferrari, The Answer
David Ferrari was a badass S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. His team raided a terrorist research compound to recover the massively destructive Omega Compound, and when they were all slaughtered he realized “Hey, I’m holding a massively destructive Omega Compound!” He acted accordingly, sacrificing himself to wipe out the entire base. Then he returned to mind control Nick Fury and steal nuclear warheads. Why? Because S.H.I.E.L.D. told everyone he died in an army hazing accident. We understand that secret super-spies need to have cover stories, but couldn’t they come up with something cool? He saved the world! Tell people he died using his massive balls to shield an orphanage from bombs!
Imagine dying to save the world and finding out everyone thinks you died like a drunken fratboy with your thumb up a sergeant’s ass. You’d want to blow them up too. Sure, the comic says something about working with the Russians, but that just goes to show that Ferarri is much better at creating cover stories.
Marvin Flumm, Mentallo
Marvin Flumm was a telepathic mutant hired by S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ESP division, and fired for trying to psychically dominate the entire organization. Fired! That’s a less severe penalty than repeated jaywalking! They saw this madman use his awesome powers trying to turn America’s last line of defense into the league of evil, and their response was to make him get out of the secure building. That’s the opposite of what you’re meant to do with criminals!
He’s gone on to mind control pretty much every superhero squad, villain group, and branch of the government there is. Because that’s what happens when you let a mind-controller clean out his desk, and give him a bad reference to guarantee he can only take criminal work. At this point you have to wonder if S.H.I.E.L.D.’s real job is to create and release punchbags for the Avengers.
Ultimate Black Widow
In the Ultimate universe America’s premier super-team gave a known Russian double-agent top level access to their most secret files. It worked exactly as well as you’d expect.
By the time she was finished with them they’d drugged Captain America, locked Thor up for talking crazy, and Tony Stark was naked except for the metal gun pressed against his body. She not only beat them, she got them to beat themselves with their own greatest strengths. It turns out that someone trained in betrayal by your mortal enemy can’t be trusted. More surprisingly, it turns out that an intelligence agency who didn’t know that WASN’T staffed entirely by four-year-olds!
Erik Gorbo, Monster Ape!
Dr. Erik Gorbo worked in the S.H.I.E.L.D. research labs, where biochemical safety means brushing your teeth after drinking experimental super-serums. Dr. Gorbo was turned down by a female co-worker, so he transformed himself into a ridiculous looking horny monkey. It seems S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Accidental Supervillain division created the world’s first Pick-Up Artist. Except it was awesome.
He became Monster Ape! (The original comics somehow failed to put an exclamation mark at the end of that phrase every time it’s used. I fixed that.) As Monster Ape! Gorbo was massive, superstrong, retained normal human intelligence, could control other animals, and was a giant Monster Ape!
We take it all back, S.H.I.E.L.D.. You kick ass. And now we know who we want to star in Avengers 2.