Heroes For Hire #14

by

Or – “How Can A Crossover Take LONGER Than The Event Itself?”

H4H10.jpg

Y’know, I’ve been reading Heroes For Hire since the beginning, but for some reason the ‘World War Hulk’ crossover seems to have been going on since before the dawn of time. Certainly that comes partially from the fact that the Savage Land arc started way back in #9 and led directly into this crossover, and partially because they’re really trying to ratchet up the tension on this storyline. I don’t know that it’s NOT working, but it’s certainly got enough rough edges that part of me is asking “Are we THERE yet?” Events are coming to a head, and I hope that the payoff is worth the journey…

Previously, on Heroes For Hire: Paladin used to be a Hero For Hire. Then, during the Civil War, he double-crossed his teammates and nearly remanded Captain America into H4H1.jpgTony Stark’s custody, which might have allowed him to get assassinated by sheer dint of Tony’s incompetence nearly four months ahead of schedule. Then, just when the team expected to never hear from his purple double-crossing butt again, he returned with a proposition: a million dollars each to retrieve Moon Boy (believed to be a surviving member of Homo Habilis) from the Savage Land. That mission turned bad, Colleen nearly got eaten by a candy-apple red T-Rex, Black Cat and Paladin had a bonding moment, and Humbug was possessed by a group of ancient telepathic bugs that live there. Using the hivemind information, Humbug led his friends to Manhattan to try and stave off the attack of Hulk and his Warbound (specifically the Brood Queen who intends to kill all life on Earth with her offspring) but things have gone horribly awry. Humbug has seemingly turned on the team, Colleen and The Tarantula are about to be tortured for killing one of Miek’s hivelings, and they’re probably all going to be eaten by Brood grubs. Must be Thursday… We start with Misty Knight, Shang-Chi and The Black Cat getting an ‘invitation to the world’ from Korg the Stone Man…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Shang recalls Miek talking about a catacombs somewhere in the city, where they would take the girls to be tortured, and Misty says she knows who’ll have the answers. Meanwhile, in said hidden catacombs, Miek the Unhived faces the women who killed his children (or at least the ones that Humbug [who actually committed the murder] blamed for the death) and explains what happens now. “You plotted against the hive. You have murdered a hiveling and hid in its blood. I swore to protect the hivelings… and I must be responsible for your punishment.” He slings a blade (and loves him sum french fried pertatoes, mm hummm) but doesn’t even pierce Tarantula’s skin. “Is that it?” she asks, and right there, I knew she shouldn’t have asked…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

While the black and white catsuited members of the team are bitten by alien bugs (and I’m sure that’s not terribly hygenic) Misty and company enter a SHIELD compound in the abandoned New York City. Walking right through the doors, as the soldiers panic, the H4Hers confront Derek Khanata, agent of SHIELD. Misty asks about the location of “The Catacombs,” and Derek tells her that SHIELD is developing a plan of action. Hopefully it’s a plan without any Red Skull sleeper agents or Extremis-infected cancers exploding all over the place… I’m just sayin’. Misty asks again, and gets told that she’s not authorized for that information. She orders him to get Stark on the horn, but he’s currently hidden in Hulk’s arena under Madison Square Garden, and Misty gets up in Khanata’s face before Scorpion tries to interfere…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

I suspected for a moment that Misty was going to slap the taste out of Scorpion’s mouth for interfering, but it’s Black Cat who takes the shot, knocking Scorpy down and going for her throat with a cry of “You murdering $&@*!!” The agents of SHIELD swarm on her position, but Shang-Chi is in no mood. First, he tries reason…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

…and when reason fails, he is forced to resort to swift and blinding violence. The Cat smacks Scorpion’s head against the pavement and prepares to go for the kill when the SHIELD agent shit her with a net. “There is a class Omega situation going on twenty blocks from here. I cannot convey how much I don’t have time for this. You have one more chance to leave alive. I suggest you take it.” The Heroes leave the compound, and Misty reminds Black Cat that Paladin was a double-crossing putz when the Purple merc himself steps out of an alley. “Take it easy… I’m right here, you know.” Pally taunts the Cat that she was only bothered because she digs him, and when asked about the Catacombs, claims that he knows what’s going on but refuses to give up the info without payment…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Misty tells the team to leave, and Paladin smirks that she isn’t nearly cold enough to torture him, but Misty has other ideas. She tells him that if he helps her find Colleen and Tarantula, then he gets Moon Boy, and can take the whole seven million. “It’s actually closer to ten. I was trying to screw you.” She obviously holds back on the urge to crush his skull like an eggshell, and they agree to meet once he finds some transport. Paladin steals a SHIELD transport tank, and tells the team that the Catacombs is under MSG, and sets course for the Garden. As the screams from Colleen and Tarantula echo throughout the arena, Miek confronts a stranger wearing the skin of a bug…

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Before the crazy Queen can explain to her beau why she has a new boyfriend, the wall is suddenly knocked down by the SHIELD battle-tank, and the Heroes for Hire make their entrance. As the Hivelings go to protect the Queen, Misty climbs out, remarking “The Queen doesn’t have anything to worry about just yet… Not until we deal with that low-down, traitorous cockroach we used to call a friend.” Black Cat uses a bullwhip (Black Cat knows how to use a bullwhip?) to discarm Humbug, and knock away his helmet, and they all stand horrified by what is revealed beneath.

IMAGE REMOVED BY MARVEL LEGAL DEPARTMENT

Bleaah. That’s a bit on the disgusting side. And I don’t remember Buck Mitty being so blonde or square-jawed, either. Maybe that’s not him at all? I still think that Humbug is working for the Savage Land insects to destroy the Brood Queen, and is willing to sacrifice even his friends to protect his planet, but his transformation is pretty awful…

Jeb Wells manages to keep us in suspense for another issue here, and it’s nicely written, even if some of the “Who? What? Where?” feeling was undermined by having already read WWH #3 & #4, and I honestly believe that six issues may be too many for this portion of the story. Still, it’s well-plotted, and Clay Mann gives us more nice art to look at. He manages to do that “gritty, street-level” (and, boy, am I tired of hearing that stupid phrase) thing that Tom Grice likes in Leinil Yu, with a stronger sense of composition and less scratchiness. It’s a tad bit stronger overall than last ish, earning a well-done 3 out of 5 stars, but at this point, I’m looking forward to a post-WWH-H4H, PDQ.

3stars.jpg