This comic's operating on a higher level of complexity.
The Shield's secret history advances through the centuries as Galileo repels Galactus' first attack on Earth and Isaac Newton investigates the Deviants' kingdom.
This is definitely a brainy read. It rewards you for paying attention and considering the implications of every carefully-chosen word. The best comparison I can make is to Darren Aronofsky's movie, The Fountain, in that they both address enduring philosophical issues through the lens of science fantasy in a way that's both intellectually stimulating and visually breathtaking. Weaver and Strain give the art a classical, painterly heft without falling into the traps of stiffness that similar efforts usually do - - this still has the alternating fluidity and boldness that comics art needs. There are so many great scenes to choose from, but my favorites would have to be Newton's unsettling, transgressive solution to Galactus' advance and Galileo's trials of humiliation in the Deviant's society.
Minor quibbles, but I'll say that this definitely isn't a series you can just pick up with this issue. Even though the whole experience was quite enchanting, I still felt like I was missing out on some things and that's probably on account of me missing some significant exposition in the first two issues. Also, while I know that Hickman probably didn't want to make the back-up feature of the Papal correspondence inaccessible, I couldn't help thinking that language wasn't archaic enough to fit the era. A small quibble!
The Verdict - 4.5/5
Before reading this issue, I honestly didn't know anything about S.H.I.E.L.D. outside of it having some eye-catching, atypical covers and, obviously, some relation to Nick Fury's organization. I was intrigued by how this issue's promo promised to pit Isaac "Inventor of Calculus" Newton against Galactus and I can say that Hickman and Weaver fulfill that promise impressively. I've seen a number of projects in the past trying to weave real history into that of the Marvel universe, and they've been cheesy. Much like Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man this is another example of a comic transcending its confines to tell a story that'd be compelling in any medium and in any context.