‘Heroes for Hire’ #1 Hits The Streets In A Big Way [Review]
The new Heroes for Hire #1 launched this week, the newest iteration of a much-loved Marvel series that has seen a number of resurrections over the years, but never really managed to stick. Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Brad Walker, the creative team behind the late, lamented Guardians of the Galaxy, are masterminding this new relaunch set in the aftermath of Shadowland, and considering Abnett and Lanning's strength with revitalizing tired characters, this may be the revamp that finally manages to stick around longer than just a couple of years. We've got our impressions, and a 6-page preview of the series, after the jump.Heroes for Hire as a concept began in the '70s with a single hero for hire: Luke Cage. He would offer his services to those in need from his office in Times Square. Eventually, as Cage beganinteracting with the rest of the Marvel Universe, he forged a group of friendships that added new members to the team. Danny Rand, Iron Fist, joined up with him and they became the most dynamic duo in the Marvel Universe. Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, collectively known as Knightwing Restorations, joined the supporting cast, where they became defining fixtures of the team.
Misty Knight is heading up this latest Heroes for Hire venture, but this time around, rather than looking for a payday, Misty is working a different angle. She's contacting heroes and trading a favor for a favor. Scratch her back, usually by going on a mission for her with no questions asked, and she'll scratch yours by delivering some information you've been looking for or helping you get to where you need to be.
And as far as gimmicks go, it's a pretty good one. Misty runs operations from a remote location, staying out of the action, while her contracted foot soldiers do the grunt work. This sounds like a disjointed way to go about things in the first issue, with a series of faux team-ups, but it works very well. The execution of the new operation is tinged with a taste of the radio DJ from The Warriors, an absolutely fantastic and appropriate choice, and a big dose of Marvel Team-Up.
The first issue of Heroes for Hire isn't so much the introduction of a new team as a parade of street level and mission appropriate guest stars moving into and out of the action. A quick count reveals that five heroes guest in the issue, not including Misty, and only two of them actually talk to each other. Misty is the engine that pushes the book forward, and everyone else is just on for the ride. She's the one who gets to see the big picture, and through her, we do, too.
The writing in Heroes for Hire is strong. Each character gets their own moment to shine, even with limited time spent on-screen. Abnett and Lanning made Marvel's cosmic line the most interesting part of the Marvel Universe for a few years just off the strength of their skill at characterization, and they're bringing everything they learned out in space down to the street level with this series. The tone of the book shifts from light and quippy to serious to downright grim without missing a step or inducing whiplash in the reader.
The art is okay, but Walker isn't quite as sharp here as he was on Guardians of the Galaxy, due in part to some overly dark color work. Some of Walker's faces feel off or over-detailed, and end up looking more weird than realistic. His layouts and action scenes are pretty much on point, though, including something very, very creepy toward the end of the issue. I'm curious to see where his art goes as his run on Heroes for Hire continues. It's not bad, exactly, but it just feels off, not quite up to his usual level of quality.
The new Heroes for Hire concept is strong, but of course, this wouldn't be an Abnett & Lanning book without a gutpunch of a swerve somewhere in there. I won't give any details, but the twist this time around is very effective and makes me want the next issue as soon as possible, which is basically the entire point of twists. It's good.
Heroes for Hire is a good first step onto a new road. It's acknowledging the past without being beholden to it and pushing Heroes for Hire in new directions. It isn't quite an A+, knock-your-socks off opener, but it's definitely worth checking out to see where it goes. There's a strong creative team guiding the ship, one with a proven track record, so I expect big things.