I am going to call a spade a spade: DC’s Titans: Villains for Hire Special is low entertainment of the highest caliber. In this comic book, five super-villains band together to battle and assassinate one defenseless, disposable superhero. Slade Wilson lives up to his reputation and name; he provides the death stroke that successfully terminates his victim. Mission accomplished.

Under current circumstances in the DC Universe, the four individuals Slade approaches to join him have better choices to make regarding their respective personal lives rather than signing on to commit murder (despite Slade’s assurances that, subsequently, all will be made well for them)–but then it would not be low entertainment, would it?

Titans: Villains For Hire Special spirals into bloody, senseless violence, but it’s not shocking; it’s too familiar to be shocking. I found it very sad–“sad” in a gloomy, depressing way–because, no matter how you slice it, the best DC could do (and DC does it a lot) is take one of their superheroes and kill him–brutally, for no apparent reason other than because he doesn’t fit into their universe anymore (and not because he’s a minority, as has suggested elsewhere–shoot, if it could only be that controversial).

This comic is about as low as “low entertainment” can get–but I’m not losing sleep over it because I know there’s more than low entertainment out there in comics. Over the past few days, I have read several fine publications:

  • Wilson by Daniel Clowes,
  • Daytripper #5 by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá,
  • Luna Park by Kevin Baker and Danijel Zezelj,
  • Market Day by James Sturm,
  • And The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976 by Charles M. Schulz.

These books involve storytelling of the highest caliber. They moved me, captivated me, enlightened me, and compelled me to read them again–leaving me feeling real good about comics’ potential.

No, not potential . . . achievements as an art form. I can’t recommend the above list of books highly enough. Unfortunately, Villains for Hire is getting a lot of press (this past week, anyway, but something just as brutal will replace it next week)–and I’m certainly not helping matters with this column in which I am also giving it publicity.

Fortunately, I also want to publicize some books you should be reading instead. There is a scene of quiet tragedy at the end of Daytripper #5, light years away creatively from the desperate brutality that some will think is tragedy in Titans: Villains for Hire Special–but, for crying out loud, I sincerely hope no one is fooled into thinking that.

Daytripper #5 wrenches your heart. Villains for Hire wants to wrench your senses and, like the best low entertainment, it does so. It provides shock value, and if a ton of attention goes its way, and it sells at a specified range (and it probably will), we’ll be seeing more of its kind.

Still, that’s okay. Low entertainment has its place. It’s going to keep coming back. In that respect, Villains for Hire might as well sell, because regardless of how I feel about a comic (any comic), the fact that it’s selling well is good for the comic book shops.

However, I also want the good stuff to sell well, too–and there’s plenty of good . . . better yet . . . great comics out there being produced. Right now!

I can’t lose sight of that fact by giving the low entertainment too much time and thought. I’ll accept that low entertainment sells, give it its “due” (quickly), but then give my best critical thought to what I feel is artistically worthy so that it has the opportunity to garner the attention that will benefit it in sales.

With that call to arms, I’m on to Daytripper #6. You should be too.

About The Author

Jim Kingman

Jim Kingman is a writer for Comics Bulletin