Villains for Hire #2 (of 4)

A comic review article by: Ray Tate

How can you hate a book that actually makes Tiger Shark look competent?

The Truth Hurts

It turns out that Misty Knight stole her Heroes for Hire idea from the Purple Man. I'm snickering as well. Could this Heliotrope Hamfist be any more of a loser?

Last issue, the Purple Man, freed from the Raft through basically luck, attempted to reclaim his plan. He put together a crew consisting of such big names as Headhunter, the new but not really improved Deathstalker, the Bushmaster and Scourge. Misty Knight formed a new crew of outright villains: Stilt-Woman, Tiger Shark, Bombshell, Crossfire, and as we see this issue Speed Demon. Minor villains just like those that work for the Purple Man, but Misty, the Jim Phelps of the Marvel Universe, is the superior tactician.

Your Mission Should You Decide to Accept It...

There's so much to enjoy in this latest issue of Villains for Hire. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning celebrate the stupidity of the Purple Man. How dumb? Let me count the ways. Whereas Lex Luthor had every reason to deny Clark Kent and Superman were one in the same, the Purple Man doesn't have the excuse of unmitigated arrogance. Headhunter tells him that it's Misty Knight behind this latest wave of obstacles to empire. Purple Man refuses to believe.

Thistle Thickie

Misty Knight is a good guy. Misty, however, was also a cop, and she's a licensed private eye. A bionic arm doesn't make her a super-hero. She's willing to work with lesser criminals if such collusion brings down a criminal empire in its fetal stages. She's also willing to kill in order to preserve the peace, but it hasn't yet come to that. The Purple Man underestimates this law enforcer, and this chapter of Villains for Hire is all about his refusal to believe Misty Knight is the brain behind the new crew of villains.

A fete of the Purple Man's lack of gray, cells that is, Villains for Hire also revels in the bad behavior that you expect from villains. However, most of Marvel's villains are punks with gimmicks. So, they act that way. There's a hilarious scene with Tiger Shark and Bombshell, where she suggests that Tiger Shark is going to put the moves on her, and she will rebuff explosively. Headhunter basically pays them off to betray their boss, whose identity they don't know. Now, I'm betting that they're really going according to script while picking up extra funds, which Misty probably included in their contracts. Misty's too good of a strategist not to prepare for a higher payout. 

Speaking of script, Abnett and Lanning include a scene where the Paladin confronts Misty Knight about her using a crew of villains to do her dirty work. The dialogue is forced. The results of the confrontation outrageously silly, and I suspect they're supposed to be because anybody with half a wit can tell that Paladin and Misty playact for the benefit of the Purple Man's eyes. Surely, Misty would also anticipate surveillance techniques. At a guess, this little skit is designed to distract the Purple Man from the Paladin, who will no doubt be working behind the scenes to track him down.

And the award goes to...

Renato Arlem and Jay David Ramos provide numerous enjoyable scenes, but the moment that stands out for me occurs in the so-called Bar with No Name. Headhunter, a minor Namor villain, busts out some cool steps, which of course can be attributed to the illusion of movement that Arlem imbues. It's a pity she's not hero, because those actions are really worthy of applause.


Shall We Dance?



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, where he 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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