Or – “What Civil War Did For Ms. Marvel, World War Hulk Has Done For H4H…”


And by that I mean it’s brought character development to a complete halt, thrust the likable characters into a situation which doesn’t really do them any favors, and so far hasn’t really made a whit of difference on the overall conflict. But I’m not entirely bitter, as I suspect that the WWH sales bump is going to keep Heroes For Hire on the stands longer, and hopefully give us a chance to get back to the stories that brought me here. Either way, Misty Knight and her amazing friends are in WAY over their heads, and even the newly empowered Humbug may not be enough to push the scales back in their favor.

Previously, on Heroes For Hire: Prodigal mercenary Paladin returned to the fold after betraying the team during the events of Civil War, with an offer they can’t refuse: one H4H1.jpgMILLLION dollars (TM and Copyright Doctor Evil) each to retrieve what is believed to be a surviving specimen of Homo Habilis. While in the Savage Land, the insect-controlling Humbug was overcome and thought killed by giant bugs. Instead, he was initiated into their hivemind and given a mission: to stop the coming insectoid apocalypse, predicated by the arrival on Earth of the Hulk’s warbound allies, including giant insect Miek and his Brood queen. Returning to New York, the H4H find the city evacuated save for a few stragglers, some Hulk supporters, and a few hundred little green men looking for a good place to lay a million or so eggs and subjugate humanity. Black Cat tentatively tries to communicate with the hivelings, but is nearly discovered. Luckily, their collective fat is pulled from the fire when Humbug rips one of the creatures apart and covers himself and his allies in bug guts. Disguised by the dead hiveling’s scent, the ichor covered Heroes for Hire are able to sneak aboard a shuttle headed for The Hulk’s ship, but their added weight throws the ship off balance…


“…you mind telling us what we’re doing here?” Humbug explains what his new hive told him: the Hulk has returned from space, angrier than ever, and that by bringing the Brood with him, he has endangered every life on planet Earth. Should she give birth, everyone will end up like John Hurt in ‘Alien,’ without the cool accent. Misty appreciates the fact that lives are at stake, but is a bit taken aback that Humbug has risked the lives of all the H4H to try and save the planet.


I love the disgusted look on Colleen’s face in that last panel. It pretty much says everything you need to know about the changes in Buck Mitty. As the ship docks with Hulk’s battle-cruiser, Shang-Chi mentions that he feels that the death of the hiveling will be a black eye on their karma. Tarantula starts to tell him that the bugs don’t have any feelings, when one of them looks up at them with puppy-dog eyes and offers them something to eat. “We’re going to hell,” sighs Tarantula. Heh. As the H4H slip away down the corridors, the bug warriors report in to King Miek (whose name makes my spell-checker scream in frustration.) They report to their liege the seven “new hivelings” they find, and Miek quickly checks the shuttle, only to find one of his kids killed and partially eaten. He screeches the alarm, his inhuman voice echoing through the ship…


Humbug’s new helmet is giving me the screamin’ heebies, folks. The Warbound set out to smash the intruders, but Humbug lies to Misty that they’re okay. When the ship’s klaxon starts screaming, ‘Bug slips away to finish his own mission. The tiny hiveling who offered Shang food before reappears and somehow manages to smirk at him through his bug face. “You call me friend? Ckkkk! Share protein among us? Now you see the hivelings’ REAL friend.” Hiroim the Shamed, an alien as powerful as the Hulk steps out of the shadows, and tells them the score. “You have murdered one who was under my protection. Put down your weapons or foreit your lives. I truly hope you choose to resist me.” Shang-Chi tries the path of peace, but Hiroim isn’t interesting in talking. The big man rushes them, bulling past most of the team and taking aim at Colleen Wing and her samurai sword.


Holy… $#!+. Shang staggers back from the force of the blow, telling his teammates to run, but the path is blocked by Korg, whose people have stood toe to toe with Thor in battle. “We are so @#$@ed,” says Misty. Elsewhere in the ship, Humbug slips past the other Warboun, seeking his target when a telepathic voice speaks to him. “Why do you hunt me?” asks the Brood queen, her voice charming Humbug’s insect nature. “Y-you must be stopped… at all costs.” Shang-Chi is barely holding off the much more powerful Hiroim, and the few blows he has taken have left his entire upper body a swollen mess of bruises. “We fight to the death, then?” Shang asks, and Hiroim replies, “If that is your desire.” Tarantula leaps into try and save him, but Hiroim hits her WITH Shang, throwing them both across the room. Korg takes out Black Cat and Colleen with one punch, and tries to intimidate Misty Knight. As a former New York city cop, she doesn’t scare easily.


As the fates of the Heroes for Hire are given to the beastie whose child they killed, but at least Humbug is still out there to save the day, right? Perhaps… He isn’t quite sure that he’s up to the task, informing her in a shaky voice that “Y-you trespass on our hive.” She isn’t fooled, telling him that part of him realizes in her lair of evil, he finally feels at home. “Yes, Man-Bug,” coos the queen. “I can see into your heart. I know you dream of a planet ruled by insects. A place where you will be at peace. Fight it no more. Kneel.”


Well, that ain’t good… The one member of the team who isn’t about to be killed and eaten just switched sides. Might as well write off Earth, what with all the superheroes fighting each other or replaced by Skrulls. The main story leaves us there, but there’s still some action going on down on the island. Sent out by SHIELD to retrieve a mysterious piece of weaponry from their hidden storage depot, The Scorpion accidentally led Paladin with her. The purple Merc wants to loot the place and make a profit off the weapons within, but Scorpion can’t let him. Using Cockroach Hamilton’s shotgun, she blasts him back, but he grabs the nearest gun and returns fire. Suddenly, her weapon is transmuted into GOLD, and clatters to the ground…


The dollar signs in his eyes slow Paladin down, but Scorpion quickly nails him with Whiplash’s trick whip, destroying the alchemy gun. Paladin returns fire, but Scorpion quickly goes to ground. “I got new for you and your SHIELD buddies, chickstick!” calls Paladin. “You know what’s going on outside? That’s a war… between the Hulk and everybody else. And during wartime, a certain degree of looting is not only expected… it’s TRADITIONAL!” Paladin is, apparently, a worthless jackass, taunting his 16 year old opponent by threatening her life. “If you try and make me walk outta here empty handed…”


Stilt-Man’s armor has never been used this effectively… Thinking he’s out, Scorpion is ordered by her superiors to kill Pally, but as she steps towards him, he’s suddenly up, with a gun to her face. “‘Sup toots? Look what I landed on…” I’m not certain, but there’s a chance that Paladin is an Olympic-Class worthless jackass with gold filligree and a certificate of authenticity. Either way, I’m kinda hoping that Scorpion takes his head off his shoulders next issue.

Both of the stories are interesting this month, but they both suffer a little bit from being all Act Two. The first story has Clay Mann’s usual good art (especially on Shang and Tarantula) , and has a couple of great moments (including a complete “Hell, Yeah!” when Shang blocks Hiroim’s crushing blow) but I would have like a little more of a sense of suspense and claustrophobia. The Scorpion/Paladin fight was cute, and touched on lots of little bits of Marvel history, and Cockroach Hamilton alone earns the story half a star. All told, we’re looking at a solid 3.5 stars out of 5 rating. World War Hulk isn’t taking nearly as much space and energy as Civil War did last summer, and writer Zeb Wells has done his homework to keep this detour feeling like an organic portion of the regular H4H plot.


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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  1. Sanlear
    July 30, 2007 at 1:06 pm — Reply

    When will Misty learn that the ‘fro isn’t the best hairstyle for superhero hijinks?

    I’d be suprised if Humbug truly turned. Insects are usually loyal to their hive (in his case the hive being H4H).

  2. Happenstance
    July 31, 2007 at 6:24 am — Reply

    Think about it:

    Humbug killed the hiveling; Miek will want him dead.
    Humbug seems to be important to No-Name’s little plans; No-Name will want him alive.
    Welcome to your next-issue conflict.

    They’ve already announced deaths, so place your bets. I think Humbug is a goner along the lines of Sigourney Weaver in “Alien 3;” I also won’t be surprised if Shang-Chi’s obsolescence catches up with him. (Fortune-cookie-wisdom-spouting Asian martial artist? That was fresh in the 1970s. He’s also voicing responsibility for the hiveling’s murder.) Oh, and Paladin. That’s the guys, except for Moon Boy, who can fall either way.

    The ladies will probably get a pass (except for Tarantula or Scorpion) ahaving already had their share of grief with that gross H4H13 cover. I came in late here, so I missed that discussion, but it kills me that someone who can put together this site can’t discern the difference between a veined-penile tentacle dripping goo into the exposed cleavage of a helpless, chained-up Black Cat as it approaches her mouth, and Witchblade’s armor sort-of coping a feel as it activates. It’s the difference between walking your dog and being torn apart by a stray pack while a crowd cheers. In all the covers at Superdickery.com with Wonder Woman in simulated “tentacle rape bondage” situations, she never once wears that hentai-manga expression of helplessness/shame/weeping fear/horror that graces three faces on the H4H cover–I doubt Shang-Chi (quietly scooted around the pillar nearly out of view so as not to spoil the fanboys’ RAEP RAEP RAEP fappy-fun) is putting on that look as he becomes a tentacle-yaoi fantasy…

  3. July 31, 2007 at 10:47 am — Reply

    I also won’t be surprised if Shang-Chi’s obsolescence catches up with him. (Fortune-cookie-wisdom-spouting Asian martial artist? That was fresh in the 1970s. He’s also voicing responsibility for the hiveling’s murder.)

    Doubtful. In a very real way, Shang is the closest thing H4H has to a headliner, given that Humbug and Black Cat were minor Spider-villains, Misty and Colleen are best known for being supporting players in “Power Man/Iron Fist,” and Paladin is pretty much a never-was. Shang, on the other hand, was one of the best selling characters of the mid-70’s and held down his own title for nearly a decade after the kung-fu craze that birthed him died off. If they kill Shang, I wouldn’t say it’s out of obsolescence, rather than an attempt to try and make people feel strongly about the title.

  4. Sanlear
    July 31, 2007 at 12:15 pm — Reply

    Considering that there’s a Shang-Chi movie in the works, I’d be suprised if they killed him off (or if they do, he’ll get resurrected by the movie’s release date).

  5. Tremaine
    July 31, 2007 at 12:36 pm — Reply

    I came across this issue and well….it annoyed me considering all other heroes are etheir skrulls or fighting Hulk (aka big piece of crap). H4H doesnt need to be in this war, it’s not their fight and it upsets me. And I’ve decided on a pull list and reviews. Is this there any way to get them home delivered (besides buying previews) and the would-be list: BOP, Invincible, UXM, ASM (though I may drop it), Exiles, Superman/Batman, Runaways

  6. Brent F.
    July 31, 2007 at 3:16 pm — Reply

    The best way to boost the sales of an unimportant cheesecake book is to tie it in with a major event.

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