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Villain on villain action! Why has Misty Knight hired psychopaths like Tiger Shark and Speed Demon? Because the Purple Man is out to build a criminal empire with an army including Avalanche, Shocker and the all-new Scourge! Let the baddest man (or woman) win!
If something needs villain-ing, who you gonna call?
That's the question Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning posed in Villains for Hire #1, a new miniseries focusing on a clandestine group of villains led by the Purple Man. The negative to Heroes for Hire's positive, this book is basically Ocean's Eleven except that, instead of George Clooney, you've got a purple dude ordering around superpowered psychopaths. Which, in hindsight, sounds a lot cooler back in the drawing board.
The villains assembled here are certainly interesting. Guys like Shocker and Scourge and Avalanche pulling off a heist with clockwork efficiency is cool to see, and D & A hints at a deeper connection between this book and the previous Heroes for Hire series, which for this HFH newbie is a cool tidbit to know, but not necessarily needed to enjoy the book. The hairy part comes in the form of a rival group of villains muscling in on the Villains for Hire's score, people who seem to outsmart them every step of the way! Who's behind this cunning caper? The last page reveal tells you all you need to know and then some, which gives loyal Heroes for Hire readers (and even newbies like me) something to chew on.
It's unfortunate though that the book comes off as a by-the-numbers heist tale, with D & A failing (failing!) to put a more interesting spin on the concept of supervillains for hire. The characters feel like they're just going through the motions, waiting for the plot the move, and even Purple Man couldn't avoid sounding so bored in every line.
And let me just say that saying "Hello, villain. Are you for hire?" to the person you already hired is different levels of silly.
Renato Arlem's art has that gritty, detailed style that works with a book like this, though his storytelling could use some work. At one point in the book, Scourge and Crossfire slug it out, and I can't tell whether they're fighting using capoiera or they're just dancing a little jig. It's unintentionally hilarious, but ultimately that's not what the book is about.
The idea of a supervillain network for hire is cool and all, but Villains for Hire #1 just failed to sell the concept well enough. It's by no means bad, but I won't blame you if you forget to buy the next issue down the line.
Review by: TheGeek