April 12, 2009

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Heroes for Hire Volume 3

Written by Zeb Wells and Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Clay Mann, Alvin Lee, Leonard Kirk, Ale Garza, James Cordeiro, John Bosco, and Terry Pallot
Marvel

The ending of a low-end title is often not pretty. This one is no exception, as a plethora of pencillers, the addition of a back-up story, and feeling of forced closure hits Heroes for Hire like a brick.

It's pretty bad when this particular World War Hulk crossover kinda makes me think "Gamma Corps" wasn't so bad after all.

I'm not entirely sure this is all Zeb Wells' fault, though honestly, I'm still trying to think of a comic he's written so far that I've liked. (This is nothing personal on Wells, I just don't think he and I have the same taste. People LOVE Garth Ennis, and I'm not a fan, finding his work mildly interesting at best.) Basically, the comic reads like taking the "Avengers Disassembled" theme and applying it to this team, without the long-range plans Bendis put in place.

As a result, what we get just feels like wanton destruction of characters. Black Cat is portrayed as a helpless woman who needs a man (in this case the ever-icky Paladin). Shang Chi goes off the deep end, all because he got a little from the new Tarantula, who goes from badass to being unable to endure a little pain. I don't know Colleen well enough, but she appears to get the "What am I doing here?" role that Black Cat had under Palmiotti and Gray. Moon Boy is separated from his cooler half. Misty ends up looking way too mercenary. Ironically, the only one who ends up intact is Paladin, because he's always been a jerk.

I just don't see the point to doing this, as many of the players involved are going to see use again, at least someday. (Black Cat being registered and Peter being unregistered is a gold mine of a story just waiting to be tapped.) As others have mentioned with DC's penchant for knocking off existing heroes, it just comes off as a waste.

Perhaps it would have been better had the story not been set up in such a way as to present the heroes as being completely unheroic. (Say what you will about all the Disassembled crossovers, at least the characters were trying.) Moon Boy ends up as bargaining chip, making his plot go nowhere. The Heroes try to stop a new Brood from hatching, except that's not anywhere in the rest of the World War Hulk story, so even though this is a "crossover" book, there's nothing really crossing over. These heroes get trounced just as bad as everyone else did, and then the sexy characters get tortured a bit, showing on the page what the reader feels in his or her mind. (This was a bit of a dustup at the time, as one cover was particularly exploitative.)

By the end, people are either dead, acting extremely stupid, or deserting their best friend. Yes, everything is wrapped up by the end of the book, but at the cost of a lot of characterization and good storytelling. Sometimes it's better to just let a series end without trying to solve everything. If nothing else, this trade shows you why that's the case.

The findal volune of Heroes for Hire is a mess, possibly by editorial fiat, but regardless, not something I can recommend bothering with. Back in the day, this would have quietly ended up in the quarter bins as single issues for completists. Now it will live on in trade form, perhaps the first sign that trades aren't perfect. ;)

Heroes for Hire Volume 1 Heroes for Hire Volume 2