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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s mid-season break left the series moving into new, uncharted territory; the "Ghost Rider" arc was over, and the "LMD" arc was about to begin. We were left with Ming-Na Wen's Agent May unconscious, replaced by an android duplicate — just as Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson finally decided to take the first step in a potential relationship between the two!
But what will happen next? Our wait is almost over; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return on January 10th with an episode entitled "Patriot", and a focus on the mysterious background of Jason O'Mara's Jeffrey Mace. #Marvel Television is clearly planning a season with a wide range of complex overarching plots; in support of that, they've just released a new poster advertising the "LMD" arc. Take a look!
So what hints does this poster give us for the future of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
1. A Focus on Agent May
Let's start with the obvious; this poster hints at an arc that will focus upon Ming-Na Wen's Agent May — or rather, perhaps, upon her android duplicate. Does the LMD even know that it isn't the real Agent May? Does it genuinely believe itself to be human? If so, we could be in for an emotionally powerful journey of discovery, as 'Agent May' gradually uncovers the truth.
And what will Aida do to the real Agent May in the meantime? We saw Aida protecting the unconscious body of Agent May, and willing to kill anyone who discovered May's comatose form; where will Aida store her captive? We could easily wind up with a scenario where May has broken out, and we have not one but two Agent Mays running around...
2. A Nod to Marvel History
Long-time Marvel fans will smile at the tagline "Strange Tales". Strange Tales was the title of a long-running Marvel title, launched in June 1951. Several classic Marvel characters debuted in Strange Tales — including, most famously, Doctor Strange himself. But the most amusing twist here is that Strange Tales #135 saw Marvel bring the character of Nick Fury into the present day, and even introduced the concept of LMDs.
Curiously enough, though, Strange Tales predated the Comics Code Authority. As a result, it started out as a horror anthology, but was forced to becomes rather less outré in 1954 after the CCA was formed. Is the tag a hint that Season 4 is heading towards a darker, thriller-type tone and style?
3. Is the Supernatural Really Over?
While comics-savvy viewers will pick up on this subtle nod to Marvel history, most won't. On the surface, the tag seems to hint that the thematic tie-in with Doctor Strange may not be over; the supernatural themes and ideas of the "Ghost Rider" arc may well continue into "LMD". This surface reading is certainly plausible; as I mentioned, Doctor Strange too was introduced in the Strange Tales comic.
It would make sense for the supernatural theme to continue. Aida went rogue after reading from the Darkhold, the famous Book of Sins; whatever is going on with her logically has to be linked to the mystical forces contained within the Darkhold. In an earlier post I've suggested that the Darkhold could be used to merge the concept of LMDs with the themes of Marvel's "Secret Invasion" event, and this latest poster also hints in this direction.
All in all, this is an intriguing poster. Marvel has given fans a lot to think about - all in a single photo, and a single line of text. On January 10th, we'll begin to learn the answers to our many questions!