Friday, September 30, 2016

Who's the New S.H.I.E.L.D. Director? (Part Two)

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By now hopefully you have seen this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in which we got to “Meet the New Director.”  Though we did not learn a whole lot about him in this episode, there are two very important pieces of information that were shared.  Both of these point to a very widely-held theory as to the comic book character that he is playing, but I still do not consider it conclusive enough to say that this is definitely the answer (the Marvel Wiki (semi-spoiler) does indicate that the closed-captioning for the episode gave both the character’s first and last names, so there’s that).

Going into the season this was one of the biggest questions to be answered, and I was actually expecting the answer to be drawn out at least a little more—maybe by giving him a fake name before revealing his real name.  At this point that may not be the case, but I still think it’s a possibility.

With all that being said, the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director is… (probably)…

Jeffrey Mace (a.k.a. the Patriot)

A comic book character with a 70+-year history stretching back to 1941, Mace started out as a newspaper reporter who was inspired by Captain America to begin fighting Nazi agents at work within the United States during World War II.  As a member of the “Liberty Legion,” Patriot joined a group of other second-tier heroes in stopping the brainwashed Invaders (Captain America, Human Torch, and Namor) and freeing them from the Red Skull’s control.

Following World War II, Patriot became the third Captain America after watching the second Captain America’s (the “Spirit of ’76) heroic sacrifice in attempting to assassinate John F. Kennedy.  Patriot put on a spare Captain America suit and completed the mission for him.

Mace only served as Captain America for about 4 years, retiring in 1950.

In the comics, Mace did not have any superpowers; he was simply a normal man in peak physical condition and possessing good hand-to-hand combat skills.

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Director Mace

Similar to his comic book counterpart, Jeffrey (Mace) is seems at this point to be an honest, patriotic American who wants what is best for his country.  However, we have not seen all that much of him yet, so this could easily change before too long.

What really sets Director Mace apart from his counterpart, however, is that he actually possesses superpowers.  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. revealed that Jeffrey is an Inhuman with superhuman strength and durability (considering that this is the weekend that Luke Cage comes out, I feel it appropriate to point out that this basically makes him a “discount-white-Luke-Cage”).  In fact, this is the primary reason that Jeffrey was appointed to the position in the first place:  Coulson recommended to the President that the next S.H.I.E.L.D. Director should be a powered person that the American people can trust as a way to mend some of the tensions caused by recent events such as the Civil War.  If things had gone differently, Steve Rogers would have been the obvious choice.  Steve is currently in hiding, however, so instead they are stuck with the third Captain America.

Before moving on, I need to point out that this is not the first time a World War II-era hero has been reimagined or retconned to be an Inhuman.  Toro, the Human Torch’s sidekick, was originally thought to have gotten his Torch-like powers via the same ridiculous reason everyone else got their powers—random science stuff, in this case because his mother was dying from radiation poisoning and his father was dying from asbestos exposure—but it was later “discovered” that he had in fact inherited the Inhuman gene, which was activated by contact with the Human Torch.  Another member of the Liberty Legion, Red Raven, was also later revealed to have been raised by a breakaway group of Inhumans, all of whom had birdlike wings enabling them to fly.  Amazing that so many Inhuman-related characters were around in the 1940s, when the Inhumans themselves weren’t created until the 1960s!

At this point we do not know anything about Jeffrey before he was exposed to Terrigen and gained his abilities.  I suspect that for him to be chosen as the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director he was probably connected to the government in some way beforehand, but that is little more than a guess.  Hopefully the next couple of episodes will unravel some of the mystery surrounding this character, including where his allegiances lie.  Personally, I hope that he will turn out to be exactly what he appears to be on the surface:  a Patriot who wants what is best for the agency and the nation.  That would be truest to the original character.

What do you think of this week’s revelations about the new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director?  Do you think he is on their side, or do you think he is a sleeper agent for some other nefarious organization?  Let me know in the comments!

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