Heroes for Hire Volume 2

Written by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Zeb Wells
Illustrated by Al Rio, Clay Mann, Scott Koblish, Tom Palmer, and Terry Pallot

I don't know how or why the writing team changed on Heroes for Hire, but I do know that it's a bit odd for them to change mid-arc, especially in these days of high trade concentration. What I can tell you is that it causes this book, which seemed to just bit hitting its stride, to take a detour into serious-ville, and with the players involved, that's not a good thing.

Let's start with the fun part--while Humbug helps a child find his robot (which turns out to have a pretty powerful former owner), the rest of the gang accepts a mobster's money to stop some bad guys that are even worse.

Hilarity ensues on both counts, as Orka gets a nod to the old Batman movie, the ever-easy to ridicule Headmen try to take away a child's toy, and the Heroes end up doing more work for no pay.

I mentioned last time that this book couldn't decide to be serious or a parody. Well, when Tarantula II (or is it III?) and the Black Cat end up in a horny Marvel teen's bedroom, half-grinning at the reader, I think you know the answer.

Unfortunately, just as the book started to have that vibe of the DeMatteis-Giffen Justice League, Zeb Wells takes over and removes all the humour from the book.

Shang-Chi goes ape-shit on the Headmen and the team is reunited with Paladin, one of my least-favorite Marvel characters. They're off to hunt Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur and take the book down into a very dark place, where humbug gets the Underworld Unleashed treatment, Black Cat's issues from Kevin Smith's story are ignored, Colleen and Misty look inept, and Devil Dinosaur's gender is completely changed.

In short, what was a burgeoning fun book, given two rather silly things to do, manages to end up as a ho-hum story about how dark and gritty Wells can make the protagonists. (Yes, I know there's a few funny bits, like the spilled musk, but all in all, the feeling is just as oppressively realistic as most other books, without strong writing to carry me through it.)

On the bright side, at least all of the team members seemed necessary this time around, under both sets of writers. There's not a lot of standing around for the players involved.

It's a shame the book radically changed, because I was just warming up to this one. There's only one more trade to go, so I'll finish up if the library has it, but it's a shame this series got changed midstream, as I think the idea of a humorous merc team within the Inititive setup would have been interesting had it been allowed to continue. Unfortunately, it seems like it was a book designed only to be used for plot points in larger crossovers. A pity, because the world needs more funny comic stories.