Agents of SHIELD: Who is Daisy Johnson?

With the Agents of SHIELD season 3 premiere, let's relive last season's big reveal of Skye's comic book identity...

Agents of SHIELD season 3 kicks off tonight. Skye and Coulson will be putting together a team of Secret Warriors to help deal with the rising in Inhumans. We’ll get the aftermath to Agent Simmons being devoured by that weird space thing. Lash from the Inhuman comic series will be showing up to cause trouble. But more than anything, it’s following up on the momentum that last season gave Skye, otherwise known as Daisy Johnson.

It was in the mid-season finale of the second season where they finally dropped the bomb and showed that both Skye (Chloe Bennet) and her yet-to-be-named-at-the-time father (Kyle MacLachlan) were not just characters created for the show, but were adaptations of existing Marvel identities. The two had a tense confrontation and before they went their separate ways, dear old dad’s final words were, “I will always love you, Daisy.”

There’s been much speculation over who Skye’s father is in regards to the Marvel universe. Was he a new character? The High-Evolutionary? Maximus the Mad? Through that very above quote, we finally had confirmation: Skye is Daisy Johnson, meaning her father is Calvin Zabo, otherwise known as Mr. Hyde.

So just who are Mr. Hyde and Daisy Johnson?

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Mr. Hyde is a character who has been around since 1963, showing up in the pages of Journey into Mystery #99, as created by Stan Lee and Don Heck. Zabo is a doctor obsessed with the Robert Louis Stevenson book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He had spent years perfecting a formula similar to the one in the book and to fund it, he would constantly steal from hospitals he worked at. Dr. Donald Blake – alter-ego of the mighty Thor – turned down his offer to work together and told Zabo to get the hell out of his hospital. Zabo didn’t take it too well and decided to let Mr. Hyde do the talking from there on out.

As hinted on the show, Mr. Hyde is a monster of enhanced strength, fueled by hate. Coincidentally, one of his powers was to make Zabo’s mustache disappear in the transformation. I guess Red Hulk wasn’t so weird after all.

As you can guess, Hyde wasn’t too successful in getting his revenge. He’d try going after Donald Blake and Thor several more times, not realizing that they’re the same person. For quite a while, Hyde would work alongside the Cobra, a fellow Thor foe who figured that the two of them would be enough to take that pesky god out of the picture. Once again, no go on that.

In the many decades that followed, Hyde stopped being tethered to Thor. Much like fellow Thor villains Absorbing Man and the Wrecking Crew, Mr. Hyde went on to become a go-to nemesis for all heroes. He branched out, regularly fighting the likes of Daredevil, Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, and so on. He also became a member of the Masters of Evil for a bit. He was nothing more than a punching bag for the good guys for whenever you needed a throwaway villain.

My personal favorite instances is when he and some other bad guys tried to blackmail Norman Osborn in the pages of Thunderbolts: Reason in Madness. It didn’t work out so well.

Those are exploding data sticks, by the way. Plus he just punched Hyde in the batch.

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More recently, Zabo has been selling his experimental formulas to the streets. For a while, the Young Avengers member Patriot faked having natural superpowers by injecting himself with Mutant Growth Hormone sold by one Mr. Hyde. More recently, Zabo was the main antagonist in the All-New Ghost Rider series, where he was once again selling drugs, only he had enforcers jacked up on his special juice.

The Zabo from Agents of SHIELD was far more passionate and sympathetic than the comic character and actually shows love and dedication to his daughter. The closest thing we ever got to that in the comics was in the pages of Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers. Forced to join the Thunderbolts team, Hyde bonded with savage warrior girl Troll, one of the few members of the team he actually tolerated. While occasionally annoyed at her presence, he showed his own signs of compassion, such as when she found herself reluctantly about to kill someone.

Not only did Hyde protect her from committing murder, but he also made sure that she didn’t stick with him when he finally escaped. She was no criminal and he wanted to make sure of it. Not too many degrees away from Skye’s father not wanting her to see him commit grisly murder.

Daisy, on the other hand… Interestingly enough, she hadn’t even met Hyde in the comics by the time Agents of SHIELD Season 2 was going on. Daisy was introduced in the pages of Secret War #2 in 2005, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Gabriele Dell’otto. She shows up as a very young SHIELD agent, loyal to Nick Fury. Her backstory is expanded upon in the issue’s back matter, where we get a transcript of her first meeting with Fury. It’s there that she discovers that she’s adopted and her mother was a prostitute who had Calvin Zabo’s baby. Because Zabo had been pumping himself with his experimental hormones way back when, Daisy herself is practically a mutant. She doesn’t have the X-gene, but she’s fully capable of creating tremors with her mind.

Also, she looks exactly like Angelina Jolie from Hackers.

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Without getting fully into it, things go really bad for Nick Fury’s PR during Secret War and he has to go underground. Daisy remains active, even teaming up with the Avengers at one point, but is still keeping an ear out for Fury. With shape-shifting aliens taking over the world and making it near impossible to know which hero to trust, Nick Fury gets Daisy to help put together a very secret team of people with powers that the public and government don’t know about. After all, why would a Skrull capture and replace the Absorbing Man’s son when nobody knows that such a guy exists?

And so, the Secret Warriors were created and it came with an ongoing series by Jonathan Hickman that lasted for 28 issues. Daisy becomes Fury’s protégé in a storyline that partially inspired Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the first season of Agents of SHIELD where Nick Fury discovers that SHIELD was Hydra all along. The series is more about Fury and his friends than the Secret Warriors themselves, but Daisy’s own character arc is very, very familiar.

A fellow member of the team is J.T., a smarmy guy with Ghost Rider powers. About halfway through the series, he lets Daisy know that he loves her and that she’s the only reason he sticks around. The two become romantically involved, but, uh oh, turns out he’s in bed with Hydra. The background of why is very different from Grant Ward’s betrayal on the TV show, but J.T. still betrays the entire team to Hydra while hoping to keep Daisy safe.

If anything, I seriously hope that Grant Ward’s eventual death is exactly like J.T.’s in the comics, only with Phil Coulson instead of Nick Fury. The only thing better would be if Ward somehow becomes the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Taskmaster and I’ve made sure to list that in my letter to Santa this year. Fingers crossed!

Daisy spends the latter half of the series in the background, but once it’s over, she becomes the new Director of SHIELD. Unfortunately, Marvel editorial was unable to get its head on straight because one hand was saying that Daisy was in charge while the other was saying that Maria Hill was in charge. It didn’t help that they look completely identical depending on the artist. Once the SHIELD-based Secret Avengers comic got off the ground, it simplified things by ousting Daisy and making it apparent that Hill is running things.

The big reveal of Skye being Daisy on the show coincided with Mark Waid’s SHIELD ongoing series, which not only brought Daisy back into the forefront, but introduced a bunch of other characters from the show into the Marvel comic universe. The nickname “Skye” came from her incomprehensible space adventures with Bucky Barnes, but that’s a whole other story.

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It wasn’t until SHIELD #7 that we finally got the first in-comic meeting between the two. To say that it was trying to tie into the TV show is an understatement. Not only was Calvin Zabo drawn to look exactly like Kyle MacLachlan, but they briefly mentioned for the first time that Daisy is in fact an Inhuman. The issue was very self-contained, but showed that despite Zabo/Hyde’s insanity and evil, he still loves his daughter and wants to save her in his own twisted way.

The show proceeded to make Zabo a bit more sympathetic and even ended his story arc on a relatively more positive (though bittersweet) note where he redeemed himself and got to live a peaceful and upbeat life, but I wouldn’t expect to see such a development in the comics. If anything, it’ll be interesting if they finally bring in Skye’s mother Jiaying and the can of worms that comes with it.

In the meantime, let’s sit back, watch Agents of SHIELD Season 3 and watch for whichever C-list Marvel character we’re going to get next.

Gavin Jasper was relieved when Grant’s brother Senator Ward wasn’t the same Senator Ward from the early 2000 Spider-Man comics because that dude sucked. Follow him on Twitter. Gavin, I mean. Not Senator Ward.