I picked up Heroes for Hire Vol. 1 at one of those outlet mall book stores. It was part of a mass delivery of Marvel Comics trades that were over-ordered and under-sold. The heap of Marvel stuff was pretty amazing when I wandered in there that day: X-Men, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and more … and out of all that, I picked up Heroes for Hire.
Why? Because it featured some characters I hadn’t seen too much, and in some cases, that I hadn’t seen at all.
Starring Misty Knight (cyborg), Colleen Wing (samurai), Shang-Chi (kung fu master), Black Cat (burglar), Humbug (insect guy) and Tarantula (genius killer) it seemed like a neat team. Then add in the supporting cast: Paladin (mercenary), Ricadonna (big, bad evil chick), Orka (Atlantean tank), Iron Man (jerky billionaire) and Mr. Fantastic (genius billionaire) — and you might have something pretty interesting.
But then you read it.
First off, I don’t buy that Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are the bad-asses they’re pitched as being. I can believe that Shang Chi is, but not these two simply because in my years and years of reading comics, I’ve only come across them once or twice. In this book, they’re acting like everyone in the Marvel Universe is their best friend and they’ve been fighting side-by-side with Knight and Wing for years now. That may very well be the case, but it sure hasn’t been shown much in the mainstream books since 1980.
In fact, it’s shocking how they’re treated by Spider-Man, Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man. They’re treated with such respect its almost ridiculous. Yes, you read it right. I’m annoyed that they were treated respectfully.
Why? Because these two need to earn the respect of those other guys.
On the other hand, if Black Cat and Shang Chi were leading this group with the same swagger and bravado, I’d be perfectly fine with it. They’ve proven themselves. But since they’re secondary characters in this book, they behave oddly, just so Knight and Wing can look good.
The story itself is OK as the Heroes track down a Skrull organ bank while they continue to learn more about one another. Yeah, it’s an OK plot, but the interaction just isn’t very compelling. In particular, the dialogue is repetitive (yes, we get it — Everyone is grossed out by Humbug — fine, just move on!), boring (just about everything Misty Knight says) or fortune cookie (just about everything Shang Chi says).
The art, offered by Billy Tucci and Francis Portela is decent enough, but halfway through, Humbug transforms from cadaver-thin to bloated Ethopian child. It may be something of a hint of things to come, but I doubt the storytellers are willing to let a plot-point like that slip by without incorporating it into the dialogue.
Beyond that, the action is OK, but again, nothing terribly compelling. It happens, but readers are so unattached to the characters, it’s hard to even care.
That is ultimately the same readers are sure to feel about the whole book. Yeah, it could be interesting, but somewhere along the way it just isn’t. Heroes for Hire is just overstuffed and ultimately unimportant.
HEROES FOR HIRE Vol. 1: CIVIL WAR
Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Billy Tucci & Francis Portela
Two Stars out of Four Stars (Being tough is great, but you gotta prove it too.)