I can’t help but think that Marvel teases DC for some of its storytelling issues, while ignoring their own. Perhaps they don’t do it intentionally, but there was one time when Marvel treated DC like a dog that pooped on the floor and they had to rub its nose in it. The Avengers trying to evacuate citizens of a foreign town in Age of Ultron was a finger wag for Man of Steel where Superman doesn’t care about hundreds of thousands of Metropolis citizens. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “Space-time” is a bit of a stretch when it comes to Marvel teasing DC, but it does address an issue Jim and I have covered in DC superhero shows on more than one occasion. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D kills a character and we know they’re dead.
This isn’t the first time Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. killed a character, but the manner in which the death occurred makes me wonder if this isn’t another Marvel ninner-ninner-ninner. Agents sets up a character like Jean Dewolff (Spectacular Spider-man #107-110, written by Peter David) where we learn enough about a character to care for them and we see them die by Hydra’s hand in the show’s opening moments.
Turns out that the victim has precognition so we saw his future death and here’s where the ninner-ninner-ninner comes into play. DC shows use time-travel, universe hopping, and fountains of youth to return characters from the dead as unlimited mulligans. In “Space-time,” Marvel used precognition so S.H.I.E.L.D. could stage a rescue. Which storytelling method is more legitimate? Well, I used golf terms in those two scenarios, so DC shot 50-100 mulligans on the first tee and kept saying do-over, while Marvel grabbed a couple of range ball buckets and practiced, so they could hit the first shot well. I’m guilty of taking copious mulligans, but I’d say the second method is more legitimate.
“Space-time” also killed off a bit character because no one believes a primary or secondary character can ever die. Superman’s dead. Please. Deadpool died two months before Marvel was going to relaunch its books. Like we can’t see what’s going to happen in two months. Surprise! Deadpool’s back. Since the character who died on this week’s Agents was a bit character, he’s going to stay dead. Agents has had its share of characters leaving the show this season, and it’s done a good job of saying final goodbyes: Rosalind, Bobbi and Hunter were compromised so they’ll only return as guests, and Lash has also taken over Andrew this week. I’m sad to see Blair Underwood’s Dr. Garner go, but it was only a matter of time before Lash assumed complete control. The moment Andrew shares with Agent May is the episode’s best. You should watch “Space-time” if only for that moment.
There’s one character who we knew Agents wouldn’t kill, and they showed him “die” anyway: Agent Ward. Ward is one of those primary characters you know won’t stay dead. In fact he was “dead” all of five minutes before returning as “It” or It-Ward. This occurred before the mid-season break, but I’m bringing it up here again to show that Marvel shows are guilty of similar sins as DC shows. It-Ward also rubbed me the wrong way this week. His power looks too much like Whitney Frost’s in Agent Carter for it to be coincidence and yet, I don’t think they’re tied in any meaningful way. If Frost and It-Ward do have a connection, I’ll be okay with it, but if they don’t, it’s lazy.
It-Ward even called Malick’s motivation into question. I bought Malick’s desire to bring “It” back to Earth when he was doing it for the glory of Hydra. I don’t buy a multi-billionaire who needs an alien to tell him that he needs to take a man’s life with his own hands to have power. Malick has been around a lot of death and it’d be shocking if he hadn’t participated. And if he wanted to kill someone with his bare hands, why didn’t he set up an R&D lab to make his own exoskeleton suit? You’d think he’d get that idea after watching Iron Man for over a decade. That’s almost as hokey as Baron Zemo from the 1960s, when he said that he never thought of making a solvent for Adhesive-X (the glue that kept his mask on his head for decades). Really? That wasn’t your first thought.
Overall “Space-time” was a very good episode because it grounded us with the death of a family man with precognition. My biggest fear is that this week began the final shift from an earthly Marvel universe to a space-faring one. This has been the trend for a while, but Agents was grounded in S.H.I.E.L.D. versus Hydra. Once Hydra fades, the show—and the greater Marvel universe—is headed further from grounded storylines. Don’t get me wrong. I geeked out when I saw the announcement for Infinity Wars, but Thanos is a character who can snap his fingers and half of creation is gone. How can one fathom that kind of power? You’d go blind if you looked at it.
Thanks for reading.