This is one of the most misleading covers I’ve seen on a Marvel book. Lucky for us, Misty Knight alias Control is not reforming Heroes for Hire with villainy at its core. Point one is really a done in one, well-written plain ol’ Heroes for Hire issue.
Our story begins with Silver Sable jetting after an industrial thief. Abnett and Lanning portray Sable as a mercenary but one with a heart. She will work for the highest bidder, but only if that bidder meets her moral code. Sable’s a throwback to the gadget-happy spy era that sprang from the James Bond films. As such, she’s a lot of fun. In this story, she wears a classy jet pack that sports some fetching wings. Not helpful when she encounters the miscreant.
Oh, yeah, I/will tell you something/I think you’ll understand…
Sable’s encounter sets the stage for Misty to contact another hero. This is where I think Abnett and Lanning excel. They effectively present Heroes for Hire as a network with Control at the center of the web, unlike Charlie’s Angels or Birds of Prey where the team effort arises as a single directed force in the end.
When the villain escapes Sable, another hero, a mystery guest, picks up where she left off. His battle with the character is short and sweet, which is what you would expect from a champion comporting his experience. Still, given the surprising nature of the opposition, even he needs help . So Misty alerts yet another hero, one who can teleport and provide muscle.
Oh, Thank You, Mr. Candlestick! Thank you!
That there is the reason why men shouldn’t prance around naked, and as you can see, different heroes require different prices. Once the heroes in question have done the ground work, literally, Control contacts her core team member Paladin to put the kibosh on the opposition — an inspired choice of villainy.
So where do the Villains for Hire come into play? At the very end of the book. It turns out that Heroes for Hire was actually co-opted by Misty Knight, and the organization was intended to be Villains for Hire. Abnett and Lanning unveil the great maestro behind the concept, and frankly, I’m disappointed, but I realize my disappoint ment is subjective. I just don’t like the felon; he’s not even a C-lister as far as I’m concerned. Fortunately, the writing team soften the blow somewhat by including an obscure antagonist from the John Byrne Namor series. Her presence is just part of the fun and exemplifies the idea that anybody from the Marvel Universe can and will show up in Heroes for Hire.
Heroes for Hire benefited from excellent realistic, yet stylish comic book artwork in the past, and Arlem makes a welcome addition to the fold. I first encountered his extraordinary handling of anatomy in action in an issue of Hawkgirl I picked up from the quarter bin. I found him to be a true craftsman when it when it came to a visual narrative and presenting humor within the story. These are vital assets when illustrating a book like Heroes for Hire.
So much depends on the timing and the flow as the hot potato is passed from hero-to-hero without pause, and the subtle comedy in the reactions as well as the delivery in the dialogue adds a nuance of pleasure to the action-oriented plot. Arlem is a perfect fit for the book. Likewise for colorist Jay David Ramos. Despite the gritty clockwork, Heroes for Hire is a colorful book, perhaps not as beholden to the rainbow as Avengers Academy, but vibrant none the less. Ramos acquits himself well with a plethora of fleshtones, dark blues and purples as well as glowing reds.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better