I believe this book was initially titled “The Art of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.” The change to “Season One Declassified” was a good one as it distinguishes this book from the MCU art-of books. This book is definitely more of a behind the scenes retrospective of series, rather than a focus on concept art and design – although that is included here as well. Still, the book fits perfectly in Marvel’s line of art books both in style and substance.
First, the book has the same production values and similar layout to the film art books. The book is hardcover, without dust jacket, with thick glossy pages, and is housed in a matching slipcase. The cover is printed with the simplified black SHIELD logo and book title, and the back features a photo of the cast from the promotional poster. The slipcase has wrap-around artwork, with the series’ version of the SHIELD logo on the front, and the Hydra/SHIELD logo mash-up from the final “Art of Level Seven” limited edition print on the back. The book is quite simply beautiful.
The material inside is also something special. The book opens with an introduction that tells how the show came about, with singular emphasis on Clark Gregg’s fan-favorite Phil Coulson, including the “Coulson Lives” campaign. It then goes on to highlight each cast member and their character. And, as I expected, the book then proceeds with a recap of each episode of the show in order. Depending on the episode, these sections also include concept art, designs, information on guest stars and their characters, plus information on props, location shooting and more. The pilot, and the episodes following the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, are quite lengthy. Naturally, the book is filled with fantastic photography and screen shots from the show. However, the book isn’t just for fans of the show but also for Marvel fans, with the requisite Easter eggs from each episode highlighted. Many of the characters introduced also have a shot of their comic book counter-part alongside and additional information on how the character was brought over from the comics to the live action universe.
The book is also an excellent guide for what goes into the making of a tv show – any tv show. All of the key crewmembers, from the Assistant Director to the Gaffer, are given small dossiers of who they are and what they do for the show. There are blueprints/technical designs for the sets and props, and concept art for the various costumes. The information on the plane was especially interesting. Overall, this is another fine production from Marvel that expands on the universe fans have come to love but is also accessible to newcomers. Highly recommended!