New Reviews of Old Comics
The title and cover art say The Shield, but I this issue has as much to do with Steel Sterling as it does The Shield. The Shield I’ve heard of before (not the defunct TV show, but the comic character), however Steel Sterling is new to me. Judging by the inside front cover, Steel Sterling was created in 1940 by Charles Biro (a name I know from reading The 10 Cent Plague) and appears to have hung around for close to 50 issues. What he has to do with The Shield and why he was brought back by Red Circle Comics I don’t know. If the issue is good enough I might want to do more research on it though.
The afore mentioned Steel Sterling leads off this issue with a 12 page story written by Bob Kanigher and drawn by Rudy Nebres called “Screen Test for a Tin Hero!” Actually, this is part one of that story. It opens with Steel buried up to his chin in sand with guys in a dune buggy shooting at him. How did a hero get in this situation? Glad you asked, because he spends the next 11 pages catching us up to date. Steel Sterling is a big muscle bound guy who loves animals, likes to work out in the gym and has a group of teen-agers who make up his fan club. He’s also interested in winning an audition for the title role of a new movie called “Tin Hero” so he can give the money to his teen-age fan club. Despite his muscle bound body he doesn’t fare too well against a biker gang that is harassing an old lady. And that’s all we know about Steel Sterling after 11 pages. This really is classic early 80s super-hero fare. Kanigher’s story could easily have been run by Marvel or DC at that time and not seem out of place. Nebres’ art work is slightly better than some of the higher end Small Press stuff I used to read in the late 80s and early 90s. That’s not a knock; I enjoyed a lot of those comics very much. It’s enjoyable enough that I would be happy to find The Shield #3 to read the second part.
The last half of this issue is an 18 page Shield story written by Stan Timmons and Rich Buckler with art by Michael Chen. “Dark Day of…the Red Sun!” starts off with a nod to the WWII era Shield and the Japanese effort to create a similar super-soldier for their country toward the end of the war; an effort that ended when the sub with the super solider Red Sun sank during the Hiroshima bombing. Flash forward to modern times (modern for a story published in 1983) where a new Shield is learning to use his new powers, but isn’t quite getting the hang of it. Half way across the world a Japanese scuba diver has re-discovered Red Sun and experiences something strange when he picks up Red Sun’s samurai sword. It’s not explained if the old Red Sun is brought to life, or if the scuba diver takes on Red Sun’s powers. Regardless, he makes his way to San Francisco to cause all sorts of problems and that’s where The Shield comes in. It’s also where the story leaves off. Like Steel Sterling, the story is by a known comic professional, but Michael Chen’s artwork leans more toward the amateur side. It’s good enough to not be a liability, though nothing special in and of itself.
Based on this issue I’ll probably pick up some other Red Circle Comics next time I’m at the comic story. I think I saw some Black Hood issues in dollar box last time I was there. I’d be thrilled to find the third issue of this series too.