The first of two crossovers that finished this week. Next up, a review of Incredible Hulk #111. Next week, the last of the WWH events (before Aftersmash) hits and will also be reviewed.
Title: Heroes For Hire #11-15
Author: The lead story through all five issues was written by Zeb Wells. The backup story through issues 11-13 was written by Fred Van Lente.
Illustrator(s): The backup story pencilled by John Bosco. The lead story pencilled through issue 13 by Clay Mann exclusively, issue 14 by Alvin Lee and Clay Mann, and issue 15 by Alvin Lee, Leonard Kirk, Ale Garza and James Cordeiro. All inks by Terry Pallot and all pencils by Brad Anderson.
Original Publication Date: These issues were cover dated from August to December 2007.
Cover Price: All issues cover priced $2.99 US. Issues 11-14 cover priced $3.75 Can, and issue 15 cover priced $3.05 Can.
Past comic reviews can be found here.
In the lead story, Humbug leads the Heroes For Hire into the Hulk-attacked New York, claiming that he needs to stop an invasion of territory by the last Queen of Miek’s hive, who was currently pregnant. That’s not exactly how things play out. In the backup story, the new Scorpion faces off against Paladin to obtain an item that will give her the chance to permanently take down the Hulk.
Those who recall my review of the Civil War crossover issues that launched the title know that I was really only impressed by the one character. That character lost her edge rapidly when her past was revealed in issues 4 and 5, followed by a change in writers with issue 8. With issues 4-10 being weaker than the issues involved in either crossover, it is not hard to see why issue 15 was also the last issue of the title.
The backup story between Scorpion and Paladin. Since the neutering of the new Tarantula following the Civil War arc, they have been the two most interesting characters in the title, and Scorpion isn’t even a Hero for Hire!
The entire basis of the arc and crossover was that a hive queen was going to procreate and take over the world. Yet, in Planet Hulk, Miek’s motivation for joining the Warbound was that his race was doomed and unable to procreate! Add to this the severe reaction he had to the death of a hiveling here, compared to the deaths of several hivelings at the hands of the Punisher and a member of Miek’s race in the Punisher War Journal entry, and we seem to have a few editorial inconsistencies. (One might also include the Scorpion’s retention of her memories from the House of M crossover in The Incredible Hulk to the list of such inconsistencies.) There are even inconsistencies within the issues, comparing the end of the backup story to the way Paladin describes it. (It’s possible the character was lying when he described the events in issue 14, but he’s a braggart who would have looked better describing things the way we saw them happen in issue 13.) It’s almost like they didn’t really care about this title, as they knew it was going to be cancelled anyway.
It’s original in the sense that it’s the only crossover that’s not just a great big fight, which I do appreciate. However, when it seems founded on concepts that are seemingly inconsistent with the big picture, that doesn’t help much. Still, it does things other comics aren’t doing, and will get credit for that, even if it doesn’t do them well. I give it 5 out of 6.
The artwork is generally consistent. There were a couple of inconsistencies with the Black Cat through the story, but most are in the last two issues. Given that none of the four pencillers on that issue did pencil work on the first three, that’s actually not bad. I suspect Terry Pallot’s inking is a major cause of this consistency. More importantly, the art was clear and effective. (The final page of issue 14 is genuinely creepy.) I give it 5 out of 6.
The story was weak, to say the least. Founded on inconsistencies, and propagated carelessly, it just fails to deliver. All it really accomplished was making me dislike the heroes even more than the mercenary who frequently sells them out. Had they spent more time planning missions and less time gossiping about which teammates were sleeping with each other, they might have actually accomplished something. I give it 3 out of 6.
The characterization gets a lot of time at the forefront. Sadly, few of the characters are interesting or likeable. This was pitched as a title that could showcase the strength of some of Marvel’s female characters, and we end up with female leaders who end up chasing the menfolk around when they’re not too busy gossiping. Colleen and Misty don’t even show the strength of character and determination they showed when they were written in the 1970s. The Black Cat is similarly saddled, behaving in ways that would have seemed out of character before Kevin Smith’s Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do finally finished. This title just plain fails to deliver. I hope to see Shang-Chi and Tarantula appear somewhere else down the line some day (and not necessarily together,) but frankly, I’ve lost interest in seeing the rest of the cast again. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response is frustratingly inconsistent. There can be two or three pages building up to something interesting, followed by three or four pages tearing that apart. This seems to happen often. Sadly, the bad greatly outweighs the good. I give it 3 out of 6, with most of that credit due to the backstory and the buildup in issue 14.
The flow is marred by the inconsistencies across titles and authors, which is pretty daming when we’ve effectively got two stories that crossover with each other as part of a company wide crossover event. The actual art takes you from page to page nicely, but the dialogue and plot that are being depicted seem somewhat at odds with the rest of the universe. I give it 3 out of 6.
Overall, this is a mixed bag of highs and lows. Before writing this review, I would have recommended it hesitantly to completists who want to read the entire event. After thinking it through once more while writing this review, I don’t think I’d suggest that anymore. If you’re in it for the crossover, the inconsistencies are frustrating enough that it will frustrate the World War Hulk experience, partly because a major part of this plotline is a result of what happened in the non-World War Hulk issues 6-10, which is not effectively recapped in any way, even though it is absolutely pivotal to the resolution of the story. (There is literally one vague line of dialogue in issue 11 that would probably be nonsensical and forgotten to those readers who jumped on for the crossover and need it explained in issue 15.) If you stuck it out through the first ten issues, then these last five are better than some you’ve read, but not by a wide margin. (The lackluster Civil War crossover that kicked things off is easily the best of the bunch.) If you feel compelled to own the entire crossover, buy the issues and bag them after reading only the backup story through issues 11-13. If you choose to read the rest of it, don’t blame me. I give it 2 out of 6.
In total, Heroes For Hire #11-15 receive 25 out of 42.
World War Hulk Review Checklist
- World War Hulk Prologue: World
- World War Hulk 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, complete
- Incredible Hulk #106-110,
- World War Hulk: X-Men #1-3
- World War Hulk: Frontline #1-6
- Iron Man #19-20
- Avengers: The Initiative #4-
- The Irredeemable Ant-Man #10
- Heroes For Hire #11-15
- World War Hulk: Gamma Corps #1-
- Ghost Rider #12-13
- Punisher War Journal #12
- World War Hulk: Aftersmash
- WWH Aftersmash: Warbound
- WWH Aftersmash: Damage Control