Little Tidbit That Goes On For Too Long: This is the third incarnation of the Heroes for Hire title. Though Luke Cage and Iron Fist were operating as the Heroes for Hire back in the ‘70s, an actual comic titled Heroes for Hire (with both on the roster) would appear in 1996 following the fallout of the Onslaught saga (say, weren’t we just talking about Onslaught?). It was cancelled after 19 issues.
Vol. 2, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, was published following the Civil War event and was more in the vain of the writers’ previous work, The Daugthers of the Shadow mini, starring Misty Knight and Colleen Wing. Then Zeb Wells took over and everything went down the drain.
Following the Daredevil event Shadowland, which reunited many of the former Heroes for Hire, Vol. 3 was launched, following the format of the original series with a rotating roster but with Misty Knight back at the helm. Or at least she appeared to be, as the Puppet Master is revealed to be pulling the strings at the end of the first issue.
So anyway, Spider-Man is in this issue.
Heroes for Hire #6
“Neighborhood, Part One”
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Brad Walker
Inker: Drew Hennessy
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Doug Braithwaite & Rob Schwager
Variant Cover Artists: Harvey Tolibao & Morry Hollowell
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
The Plot: After the situation with Puppet Master secretly pulling the strings of the Heroes for Hire organization, Misty Knight aka Control is trying to build its reputation back up with the help of Paladin (no one else will work for her). Paladin is trying to intercept a cargo of narcotics, but he is attacked by ninjas. Before he’s taken down, Spider-Man intervenes and saves his life. When Spidey keeps asking questions, Paladin hands him off an ear piece, and Misty introduces Heroes for Hire to him. Paladin continues to give chase to the truck but is confronted by Batroc the Leaper. Batroc successfully kicks him off the truck, breaking his ribs. With him down, Control calls Spider-Man to ask him if he’s for hire, to which he responds, “Start the clock,” and springs into action.
The Good: I like the concept of Heroes for Hire, that is, calling on the help of specific heroes depending on the mission at hand. Issue #1 was reprinted in Avengers #10 (taking the place of that annoying oral history), and I was hooked with it (or at least I would’ve been; I’m not buying many books these days). At any rate, I really enjoyed the story here. The beginning was quite humorous, with Misty not getting any feedback from anybody at her control room. It sets the tone for this arc, that both Misty and Paladin are REALLY down on their luck and working hard to rebuild their lost reputation.
Let’s talk about Spider-Man. Abnett and Lanning understand perfectly what Spidey is all about. He’s agile. He’s quick-witted. He’s a big deal. He’s proactive. He’s strong in his convictions. All of that you see just in this one issue. Because of his status as an Avenger, Misty is interested in Spidey getting involved with Heroes for Hire. He makes a great entrance, swifly dispatching a ninja and saving Paladin in style. His banter with Control is funny. He is actually doing something about stopping drugs on the streets! If you want to see the Spidey you know and love, you’ll find him right here.
That is not to say Misty and Paladin are not getting any development here. The conversation between the two is really interesting, revealing that Paladin is basically jealous of Spider-Man and tries his best to get the job done and impress Misty, but unfortunately for him he fails. Misty, on the other hand, is very rough on Paladin, but even she realizes this and tried to apologize for it. We see great character work by the writers as well as loads of action.
I don’t know much about Batroc. Despite his appearance and reputation, he looks like a legitmate threat here.
Also, if this is your first time getting into Heroes for Hire, then you are in luck. The conversation between Control and Spidey perfectly describes what HfH is all about, so you won’t feel lost with the story. And you didn’t even need a .1 issue now, did you?
The art, combining the talents of Walker, Hennesey, and Ramos, is very good. You get a good sense of dynamic action (which you should, since fights take place on top of moving vehicles), and the designs work well. Since the story takes place in New York at night, you should expect to see lights everywhere. The artists do a good job conveying this fact. Regular cover art is nothing special but looks good regardless, and the variant cover is nice.
The Bad: There really wasn’t anything bad with this issue, to be honest. The only “weird” thing was the way Misty looked in some scenes.
The Ugly: Let me quote the scene where Spidey and Misty discuss Paladin’s mission:
SPIDEY: Listen, Mist—I mean, Control. [The drug] Hook’s vile stuff. It’s been on my radar for a while.
Spider-Man is PROACTIVELY doing something about STOPPING DRUGS ON THE STREETS. That is awesome!!! Let me make this clear again: The above is not a knock on this story. This is a knock on ASM in general. Why do we not see this kind of stories in Spidey’s own book? Sigh…
Verdict: The best Spidey issue in a long time, hands down. I’m not kidding. BUY THIS BOOK! 5 Webheads out of 5
~My Two Cents