Heroes for Hire #9

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Misty Knight alias Control attempts to call for backup as the Paladin faces a Hammered Thing solo. Meanwhile, Misty tasks the Shroud to deal with the escaped prisoners on the Raft and hires Elektra as his partner, with a double no-kill fee. As you may have construed, Heroes for Hire is steeped in Marvel continuity, but have no fear. Abnett and Lanning still make this issue reader friendly. The Shroud is a pretty obscure character. Essentially, he's a blind, mystically enhanced Batman introduced in Super-Villain Team-Up.

Abnett and Lanning cleverly imply that the Shroud can see more than the average blind man. It's rather interesting that Elektra is teaming with another blind super-hero, but I doubt that means Abnett and Lanning intended for Daredevil to guest star. Rather, it's more likely they saw the humor in the situation.

Elektra makes a welcome return and in a less lethal capacity, which is in keeping with her own series from the mid to late nineties, where Marvel essentially took a page from Xena Warrior Princess. Abnett and Lanning neatly characterize Elektra, last seen as a Skrull, as a mercenary. However, she possesses a professional's sense of honor. If she kills anybody, her contract will be null and void, and I suspect she would apologize and accept the hit as a loss.

Another oddball hero's timely appearance guarantees the much put upon Paladin an extended lifespan. Pitting Paladin against the Hammer-possessed Ben Grimm is an odd move, and it's practically unbelievable he could last more than a brief moment, even with the timely assist. However, if the reader accepts that the Thing is resisting the possession, Paladin's longevity becomes much more plausible.

While Marvel heroes appear in Heroes for Hire, the focus is more on villainy. Kyle Hotz's abstract dark artwork becomes more refined through Bob Almond's inks and contrasted with Jay David Ramos' colors. However, all the artists are like-minded when they illustrate the birth of a new monster. Their hearts lie in '70s Marvel magazines, and this sequence could easily work in black and white. The writers also adopt a narrative style that fits the period, and only the Purple Man's appearance shakes the nostalgia.

Frankly, I don't understand the appeal of the Purple Man. His powers are similar to those of the Mandrill, but the Mandrill's funnier. The actual basis for the ability, overpowering pheromones, can be combated by nose plugs or the common cold. So, I can't really buy either as a real threat, and I have a deep suspicion, that Elektra and the Shroud indvidiually could kick either smelly goof's bright buttocks.

Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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