Heroes for Hire #9 - Marvel (2007)

First off, this cover is awful. What is with their faces? Shang-Chi looks like Larry Storch and Tarantula apparently has to pee. Real bad.

In issue 8 Zeb Wells totally changed the characterizations and chemistry that Palmiotti and Gray had established among the team in order to tell the story he wanted to tell. That story was darker than the previous storyline. I have no problem with "darker". What I have a problem with is "uninteresting" and "not fun".

The previous creative team had a Kill Bill vibe going on which I really enjoyed. Issue 8 ended with the Heroes for Hire accepting a mission to the Savage Land to kidnap Moon Boy, the little ape dude who hangs out with Devil Dinosaur. That, my friends, is a recipe for cool, wacky storytelling.

Zeb Wells, however, turns it into a story about how much it would suck to be in a place with lots of man-eating prehistoric animals and throws in a lesson about lonliness or something. I shouldn't be surprised. This is the guy who screwed up The Headmen. Those guys exist to be bizarre and they weird up any comic they appear in. Wells used them to make Shang-Chi go postal because Orca died and nearly kill every bad guy in the room. Most useless death ever. A main character gets killed just so you can have another character freak out. Yeah, that was worth it.

Needless to say, I'm dropping this book.

By the way, here are a bunch of people who totally disagree with me .

I can't go into detail about why I'm dropping the comic without some spoilers so:

My chief problem with this storyline is the radical change in tone. There's enough dark stuff on the comics rack these days and I was really having fun reading something lighter. I would have less of a problem with it if it were written better. The change in tone was achieved by an even more radical change in the characters. Notably Shang-Chi. Wells obviously has some image of Shang-Chi in his head that he wants to let the world know about but I can't figure out what the hell it is. He goes from stoic to freakout in 3.6 seconds and then he refuses to kill bugs.

OK, I can understand the "all life is sacred" thing and I can even allow it to be taken so far as to not step on ants and stuff. However, I can't believe that anyone would sacrifice himself to a sabretooth-thing that is ACTIVELY TRYING TO KILL HIM. There is no way that Shang-Chi has remained alive this long if his survival instinct has been so beaten down by his sense of honor. The only reason the scene went the way it did was so Tarantula could jump in, save Shang-Chi's life and kill every last sabretooth in the room.

That is lazy storytelling. In fact, it's bad storytelling. Causing someone to act out of character just so you can get a scene from point A to point B is one of the worst things you can do.

Tarantula as written by Gray and Palmiotti was kind of a non-character with flimsy, trite motivations. Wells has managed to diminsh her even further by keeping her around just so she and Shang-Chi can enact this worn-out trope:

Oh, Christ! I hate, hate, hate scenes where people are all fighty and disagreeing with each other and then they fuck. That is lame. This is yet another example of lazy writing. It's not as bad as Meltzer's "make the bad guy a rapist" laziness but, come on! There has to be a better way to get these characters together. Oh, I know! Get them trapped in a cave or a fallout shelter.

Next up on stupid things that happen: Huge bugs show up and eat Humbug. Yeah, I don't get it either. The final image we have of the bugs implies that Humbug survives but I'll never know because the next issue won't be in my holdbox.

Wells took what should have been a cool, exciting story and turned it into a tale of primal horror, isolation and loss. If you're into that kind of thing, check it out but I'm done with it.


Chuck W. said...

Recommended temporary antidote--pick up an issue of Marvel Adventures: Avengers. The last issue had Ego the Living Planet displaying a side of himself I've never seen before (aaaand probably won't see again).

Vaklam said...

Thanks, Chuck! I'll get that. I loved the one with all the MODOKs.

The LOVING planet. hee hee