REVIEW: Heroes For Hire #3

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Or – “Wouldja Believe, The Old “Rotating Roster” Trick?”

As much as I want to love this book, I can’t help but remember what always seems to happen to every comic with a rotating cast like this.  Eventually, we find that the team locks in membership (usually with one or two big names to anchor the group) and becomes just another super-team book.  The Defenders (both Secret and regular), Justice League Task Force, a third option that just escaped me as I was typing this sentence…  It’s the same malady that ends up striking down anthology titles, but the real question is, does it work here?

HEROES FOR HIRE #3
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Brad Walker
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Jay David Ramos & Guru eFX
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Doug Braithewait & Rob Schweiger
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Heroes For Hire:  The newest incarnation of the Heroes for Hire team has been assembled by Misty Knight (fresh off her strange phantom pregnancy scare, a vaguely bothersome retcon from the last issues of Immortal Iron Fist, if I recall) and their first mission has been to track down a series of strange weapons that have been funneling into the streets of New York.  With the help of Satana, Ghost Rider, Silver Sable, Moon Knight, Paladin and more, the H4H have successfully found the source of the possessed weaponry, and identified the mastermind as Baron Brimstone, former foe of Machine Man (who really should appear in this book sooner rather than later.)  Paladin, however, has discovered that not everything is as it seems, and that Misty’s status as Control may not be entirely self-controlled, as an unidentified old school Fantastic Four villain is floating about as well.  Who could it be?  I’m not telling, because it amuses me not to.  Now, ON WE GO!

Games Of Deceit And Death

The issue opens with something I can’t remember seeing before, a glimpse into the life of Paladin out-of-costume.  The man in purple gets the call from Misty Knight to assist her, but he refuses the mission, causing her to instead call in Moon Knight.  I haven’t read any of Moony’s solo books since Denys Cowan was drawing him with all the Egyptian frippery, but he’s acting a bit weird in this ish as Misty asks him to investigate a human trafficking ring.  Brad Walker does an amazingly bad-ass M.K. in this issue, using the cape and hood (and glowing eyes, are those new?) to make him more than just “White Batman.”  It’s much appreciated given a peculiar artistic choice later in the issue, which we’ll get to shortly.  While Misty tries to get Paladin into the field to help the not-so-dark knight, he’s survelling people close to her life, trying to find out the truth behind where she really is, having discovered last ish that she’s NOT where she claims to be…

The Plot Thickens, Then Twists, And Now We’re Cha-Cha-ing!

I have some minor issues with this book, but they’re related mostly to my extremely long nerdy memory (Moon Knight’s strange intensity, Paladin and Misty discussing how to take down a dinosaur, and she being amazed that he knows how, even though the two of them fought dinosaurs together in the last H4H title.)  Artwise, the work is strong, especially the cinematic angles used as Paladin spies on Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and one Daniel Rand, who quickly realizes that he’s being watched.  There’s a confrontation, and Paladin doesn’t come off with as short an end of the stick as many would assume, ending the issue with a plea for Iron Fist to help him help Misty.  The other art issue rears it’s head in that Iron Fist is drawn with his mask very lumpy and filled with fabric ridges (which it probably would be in real life, based on its construction.)  Much as with Alex Ross insisting on making The Flash’s mask bunch up and seam, it’s a weird and off-putting visual decision that I disagree with, as the rest of the uniform is still impossibly skin-tight, in both cases.  Still, it’s a pretty minor artistic snafu in a pretty issue…

The Verdict:  Mixed But Mostly Positive

Overall, there’s nothing in Heroes For Hire that is overtly unpleasant, and the major elements of story and art are nicely handled, but there’s still an important unknown element missing for me.  Maybe it’s the “Misty in danger” arc, or maybe it’s my leeriness of yet another Marvel attempt to launch a team book of perceived second-stringers given their track record (Young Allies, the second and third volumes of New Warriors, The Loners, S.W.O.R.D., reincarnations of The Defender & Alpha Flight, Captain Britain & MI:13, yadda yadda) and the current soft market.  I want to love a book with The Falcon, Paladin, Iron Fist and more, but there’s still a distance between me, the reader, and the narrative.  All in all, though, it’s not a bad book, with potential to be great, and I have faith in DnA’s writing prowess, at least enough to get the book past the 6 month hurdle.  Heroes For Hire #3 is an issue that shows how much potential the book has, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Can you think of ANY books with rotating casts that were successful in the long term?  (Huge ensemble books like the Legion probably don’t count…)