Thursday, December 8, 2011

Villains for Hire #1

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist: Renato Arlem
Company: Marvel Comics

While it was a little sad to see Heroes for Hire slip into the ether, it's nice that the core of the title and many of the main threads essentially get to live on in another incarnation in this four issue mini-series. The focus has shifted a bit, skewing to the villains this time, but not much has changed in the actual craft of the story. DnA still approach it the same way, putting forth a collection of off the wall characters and allowing them to be cool in ways and deeds that they normally don't get the chance to be. It's almost as if these writers sorted through a toy chest filled to the brim with D and Z list action figures and then, after careful consideration, went to war with them.

From the opening page, we are assaulted with great ideas. The notion that The Purple Man has taken the bones of Misty Knight's plan of attack and made it his own in a sort of reverse Ocean's Eleven quest for money and power, is a great hook. It not only makes sense for the character, but the almost procedural element serves as a great framing device and compliments the various villains and their respective specialties as we see Purple Man's team plan and enact a rather complicated heist. As you might suspect though, when you're working with villains, the plan never goes the way you think, especially when there's another player in the game that wants to see you fail.

Really though, the main attraction here is getting to see characters that are normally used as grunts, people like Shocker and Avalanche and Crossfire, and have them be the stars of the book. Every comic fan out there has a favorite character that they wish got more screen time or that they were treated with a little more respect. This is the book where that can happen. Obscurity is on the table and even if you aren't really familiar with the people who are being used (and I wasn't in some respects in this issue), DnA make the story and the characters very accessible. You're given quick beats, in the form of dossiers, as to the nature of the character and what they're all about. It helps greatly for the narrative but it also ratchets up the cool points a few notches as well.

The art here, while skewing a bit dark in the ink department a few times, is quite nice. Like with Heroes for Hire, the action is key and Renato Arlem, and artist that has been on a host of other projects over the years that range from Annihilation Silver Surfer to Hawkgirl to X-Factor, seems up to the challenge. His movement and action pieces have weight to them and there is an almost Alex Maleev like quality to the work that gives it an edge. The level of realism that he brings to the table, especially in his backgrounds, while at the same time finding a way to not sacrifice the very larger than life qualities that make these kinds of stories great, works so well.

So yes, if you were enjoying Heroes for Hire before or if you just want a book that upholds the credo of great story and great action, then Villains for Hire is a book that fits the bill. A solid beginning to what should be a great mini.

No comments:

Post a Comment