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Heroes for Hire #7

Posted: Monday, March 5, 2007
By: Shawn Hill



Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti with Zeb Wells
Artists: Al Rio (p), Tom Palmer (!?) & Terry Pallot (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Plot: Are we mired in the backwaters of Marvel Continuity here? At least thereís a strip club, full of tight leather jumpsuits in several colors for Misty, Colleen, Black Cat and the new female Tarantula. Oh yeah, Shang Chi and Orca have major roles too. Intrigued yet? You should be.

Comments: You had me at the Headmen. Man, do I love any appearance by these bizarro creations of Steve Gerberís addled 1970s brain. A team of bad guys united by one overriding factor: something bad happened to all their heads. Or their bodies. One or the other, but the point is, weíre not talking Renaissance statues of beauty here. Arthur Nagan has an apeís body. Jerrold Morgan has a tiny skull with too much flesh. Chondu the Mystic is usually without a body. And Ruby Thursday is a vivacious beauty with a big red sphere attached at the neck.

They couldnít be more ridiculous. And they couldnít be more perfect for the extreme zaniness of comics art. Too bad this book doesnít have a regular artist to call its own. Billy Tucci is still giving us fierce babes for the covers, but heís been off the interior since the third issue. Kare Evans kept a slickly consistent style for 2005ís Daughters of the Dragon, the prequel try-out of this concept, and this title is badly in need of a similarly distinctive artist who can bring the bad girl while keeping up with the slapstick funnies.

Al Rio isnít terrible this issue, and he manages to grant a fanboyís dearest wish with an acrobatic sequence involving Tarantula and Black Cat, but killing a female mercenary out-of-frame and having Ruby pick at her thong arenít exactly the height of bad girl (or good girl for that matter) art.

The musical artists are doing the book no favors, not with this many characters to juggle. For all its high concept silliness, the book is very verbose, with insults and put-downs and exposition flying liberally, and itíd be easier to follow with a reliable creative team. Palmiotti and Gray are now exclusive to DC, but it looks like Marvel has planned ahead, and is passing the title on to Zeb Wells and Clay Mann in a few issues.

Letís hope they can keep up the style of this largely successful update of Marvelís melding of old school kung fu and Blaxploitation film archetypes. So far itís been a fairly sick balance between the ridiculous and the sublime, and Iíd miss that flavor if Marvel couldnít keep it going.



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