Or – “Wanna See The Last Thing A Slow Dinosaur Sees?”

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The Savage Land is a harsh mistress. With the team separated, conflict in the air, everybody acting strangely, Colleen dipped in monkey pheromones, and more sexual tension than you could reasonably shake a stick at, things are not looking up for our favorite group of adventurers in tight pants. Big doings in the offing for the H4H, but we can at least be comforted by the lack of rapacious alien appendages…

H4H1.jpgThis seems like as good a time as any to mention the “tentacle porn” cover controversy. Joe Quesada says that he’s never heard the term before. I call Bull$#!+ on that. He’s a grown man, a comics fan, and he’s got to be as aware as anyone of Japanese comics, even if he doesn’t read them. *I* don’t read ’em, but I know of the concept. It’s disingenuous of Joe to play dumb on this one. The “Comics Should Be Good’ blog asks why they can’t just change the cover? It’s a perfectly good idea, but I don’t see it happening… We all spend a lot of time talking like we know Joey Da Q, Bendis, et al, but we really don’t. One thing I think we HAVE garnered from previous behavior is that the current editorial style at Marvel comics thrives on controversy. They love it when we talk and talk and talk about their books, because it’s free advertising. I suspect we’ll see the book come out unaltered, and that the furor will die down in about five minutes as something new comes along that we can’t believe a big company did. From the most cynical perspective, this comic book has been drawn by Billy Tucci (whose most popular character is a hot Asian girl in a thong) and Al Rio (who is best known for putting women built like porn stars in pigtails and pinafores) and tends to feature loving shots of the characters’ various body parts. In short, it’s a well-written book with a lot of cheesecake, and I suspect this cover is just an attempt to carry forth that “Oopsie! My top popped off! Tee hee!” tradition that H4H seems based on. Is it worth the uproar? Lots of people think so… Does it cheapen the book? Depends on your definition of cheapen. It certainly doesn’t do anything to ameliorate the perception that Heroes for Hire is a just a ‘girlie show.’ Should Marvel change the cover? If you ask me, yes. They should pay the woman who drew it, offer her a chance to draw another, and pay her (or someone else) to do something less inflammatory. Is Marvel being obtuse about the internet flap? Yes. But it’s what they do, and they think it works for them.

Now, getting on with it, previously, on Heroes for Hire: Prodigal jackass Paladin returned, offering the team a piece of the action to capture a very rare Homo Habilis specimen from the Savage Land. Turns out the ‘specimen’ is Moon Boy, Colleen is covered in monkey pheromones, Black Cat wounded, and Tarantula and Shang-Chi succumb to their overwhelming sexual tension and Humbug is apparently eaten… with ‘apparently’ being the operative word here.

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Gyaah… Talk about a place you don’t want to be, much less be NAKED. The giant mantises gather round, telling Humbug that he must “sustain the world-hive.” “The weak are inconsequential. The weak must serve the strong. The weak must be sacrificed.” The horrified look on Buck Mitty’s face indicates that he very clearly believes that he is among ‘the weak.’ At the same time, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are stunned to see the shredded remains of Humbug’s suit, assuming that he was eaten by the giant beetles. Colleen’s tears gain the attention of Moon-Boy, who wipes them away, and indicates that she should come with him. Misty isn’t interested, pointing out that they’re EXTRACTING him for SHIELD. “He’s protective of me… We might still be in danger,” Colleen says. “I’m sure it has nothing with the half-gallon of monkey sex hormones you spilled on yourself,” is Misty’s take. Heh. Moon-Boy grabs Colleen, and swings away, and city-girl Misty is forced to make like Tarzan… badly.

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Where Moony goes, Devil tends to follow. Misty thinks waking the pseudo-dinosaur is a bad idea, and is proven right when Devil Dinosaur awakes, sees the strange humans, and begins to growl… “Maybe it was a friendly Grr?” says Ms. Wing, but Devil is quickly up to give chase. “Holy $#!+!” screams Colleen. “That’s what *I* said!” replies Misty, as they both take off in a dead sprint. Meanwhile, some ways away under the waterfall of eternal yet somehow creepy and wrong kung-fu-lovin, Tarantula washes up after running from dinosaurs and shanging her teammates chi, if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down. She’s contently sexy, teasing him, only to get a cold response of “We must leave now, Tarantula.”

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Wow. That seemed unnecessarily harsh. Don’t tell me we’re going to do the “Buffy & Angel” sex-makes-you-evil thing? Our other opposite-sexes pairing isn’t doing all that much better, as Black Cat finally awakes to find Paladin’s roast butterfly dinner. She tells him to shut up, but nearly collapses due to her injuries, only to have the purple mercenary catch her. She’s grateful for the help, and even has a little food, as Pally tries to give her the rundown on their tactical situation.

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This team is about one argument about where to eat supper away from total chaos, folks. Meanwhile, back in the secret lair of the Giant Creepy Crawlies, Humbug is force-fed a seemingly-glowing amber substance. “Join the hive-mind. Man-mind is weak. Drink. Hive-mind is our essence.” The bugs tell of their history, apparently extraterrestrial in nature. Eons ago, they crash-landed upon Earth, and were the dominant lifeform, until the arrival of the homo sapiens…

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Those are some astute bugs, not only knowing human history, but also knowing that The Hulk is coming. “The Green One” references are obviously meant to herald his return with his tentacled partners, yes? They must read ‘Previews.’ Back in the jungle, our red and white-catsuited senior partners are exercising their right to run like holy hell from the giant not-quite-a-T-Rex when, suddenly, their pursuer stops. Why would the dinosaur be that touchy about his space, then suddenly stop and turn back?

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Holy moley! Deviled Eggs! (Heh.) Colleen thinks this whole thing got much more complicated, but Misty thinks it’s simpler. “We ditch the dino, and take the monkey.” Colleen gets the big puppy dog eyes, and Misty is reminded of every time she’s found a stray kitten. “Moon-Boy,” Colleen coos, “I’ve got to go home. Back to New York. You like me, right? You wouldn’t want me to go without you, would you?” He shakes his head no, amazingly understanding her, but points to Devil. “No, Moon-Boy. He can’t come. He’s got to take care of his eggs.” A short conversation about reptiles changing sex occurs (“I’ve seen Jurassic Park, too, alright?”) and Colleen points out that there’s no use fighting each other. Cue the battle back at camp, as Black Cat and Paladin are still going at it. Shang and Tarantula arrive, and the Master of Kung-Fu stops Paladin cold, though in an uncharacteristically aggressive manner.

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Imbalanced Chi, indeed. It’s obvious that something is up with Shang, but why would sexual congress with a young Hispanic metahuman trigger your angst? I’ve been enjoying Zeb Wells’ take on Shang, but this bothers me, somewhat. Black Cat demands to know what’s going on, but any possible explanation is immediately interrupted by the new-and-improved Humbug, in his creepy chitinous armor. “Get up. It’s time to leave.” Meanwhile, Misty and Colleen try and sneak Moon-Boy away, but get a lunch-eye-view of Devil Dinosaur and what big, sharp teeth he has! Luckily, a swarm of insects drives the thunder-lizard back, and the Knight/Wing team are a bit stunned to see Humbug alive.

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See what I mean about the cheesecake? Misty has sedated Moon-Boy to make him more tractable, but he’s not quite out, and his screams are angering Devil. DD chases after them, then hesitates, looking back to his nest… Moon-Boy screams out, and Devil roars back at him, angrily returning to his eggs, and leaving the H4H in possession of a sobbing, heartbroken Homo Habilus. Misty asks what happened to ‘Bugger’s eyes, but he says there’s no time to explain. Given that the giant insects’ ancestors were coming, I suspect that their motives may not be entirely generous, thank you very much. Either way, Misty insists that he give her SOMETHING…

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Next month: Matthew probably tunes out, entirely! I’m not saying that World War Hulk will be bad, or that next issue won’t have the same H4H quality I’ve come to expect, but I don’t have a lot of interest in the next big crossover. Marvel has BARELY finished trying to shove Civil War and Cap’s assassination down our throats, and now we’re on to the next giant earth-shattering menace, but the next issue of New Avengers has giant ramifications, too, and the world will never be the same. Again.

All in all, I liked this issue. It’s good to see Humbug’s power levels upped, it’s good that Shang finally has something to do, (though Black Cat still has no reason to be in the magazine) it was good to see a couple of classic Kirby characters back in the spotlight, though I wonder how this jibes with their Fallen Angels appearances, and Devil being in nextwave, and blah blah blah continuitycakes. Still, the ending just sort of screeched to a halt, and while the art was good, for some reason it didn’t grab me the same way it did last month. It’s still a good book, but the questionable bits pull it back down to a pretty average 2.5 stars out of 5. Perhaps the crossover issues will knock my socks off, perhaps not… Either way, I think we’re going to be seeing more Master of Kung Fu in coming months, and that’s NEVER a bad thing.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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13 Comments

  1. Brent F.
    May 31, 2007 at 1:38 pm — Reply

    Can’t a superhero just enjoy sex for once?

  2. May 31, 2007 at 1:54 pm — Reply

    “Time Doesn’t Mean Much In A World Where The Sun Doesn’t Rise For Half The Year, Doesn’t Set For The Other.”

  3. Maximus Rift
    May 31, 2007 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    I’m not sure, but I think Shang was raised by monks. Don’t they have vows of celibacy? I’m not familiar with his “Hero History” but maybe he’s freaking out because he’s never felt this way or done things like this. It’s not necesarily wrong to us, but to him it might as well be “cooties”.

  4. Maximus Rift
    May 31, 2007 at 2:09 pm — Reply

    Also, the cheesecake doesn’t really bother me but I am a single male who hasn’t had female attention for a while. :p

  5. May 31, 2007 at 2:57 pm — Reply

    I’m not sure, but I think Shang was raised by monks. Don’t they have vows of celibacy? I’m not familiar with his “Hero History” but maybe he’s freaking out because he’s never felt this way or done things like this. It’s not necesarily wrong to us, but to him it might as well be “cooties”.

    Shang was actually raised by Fu Manchu’s Si Fan assassins guild, though it’s pretty much the same difference. But he had a long-running relationship with Leiko Wu that may or may not have been (it was the 70’s) sexual in nature. I’m not complaining about Shang having a plotline, I’m just not sure where it’s going.

    As for cheesecake, I’m torn. Part of me is all for attractive women in skimpy outfits, yet part of me thinks it very sexist. I think many people agree that the cover issue was a step too far, but it seems like this book has kind of skirted the line (no pun intended) with low-cut outfits, visible nipples, lovingly rendered buttshots and what have you…

  6. May 31, 2007 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    Funny…I’m a 16-year-old Britishman who has so far experienced no sexual attention, and I find that the most part that bothers me in this issue is Misty’s humongous Hairdo.

    I do think that the cover to #13 is very, very pervy, however.

  7. Brent F.
    May 31, 2007 at 4:16 pm — Reply

    Did anyone else find it odd that Black Cat asked Shang to take it easy when just before that she was trying to rip Paladin’s throat out for bandaging her wounds?

  8. May 31, 2007 at 4:27 pm — Reply

    Ooh…and yet Sensation S-Man has her going out with Puma…could she take the heat?

    Or maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions and she just didn’t want to se Paladin dead after the supposed demise of the H-Dog, sorry, Bug.

  9. May 31, 2007 at 4:29 pm — Reply

    She actually wasn’t present for (and thus, to my knowledge, not aware until after the fact) of Humbug’s demise, being unconscious the whole time.

  10. May 31, 2007 at 4:30 pm — Reply

    Funny…I’m a 16-year-old Britishman who has so far experienced no sexual attention, and I find that the most part that bothers me in this issue is Misty’s humongous Hairdo.

    Jeez, Steve. Could you get the bouncer to check the ID’s more thoroughly? I’ve been working Rated R over here. :)

    Misty’s hair is awesome in a retro-70’s-Lenny-Kravitz-drummer-Thelma kinda way

  11. davek
    May 31, 2007 at 5:55 pm — Reply

    Apparently none of you are aware that “chi” is actually an ancient term for “precious bodily fluids.”

  12. June 1, 2007 at 6:29 am — Reply

    Misty and Shang need their own Blacksploitation/Kung-Fu parody-homage book, which *must* be turned into a movie starring Jet Li and Beyonce (ala “Austin Powers: Goldmember”).

    Shazam!

  13. Baal
    June 1, 2007 at 12:01 pm — Reply

    Thank you for reading H4H so I don’t have to. Your karmic reward should be huge.

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