Heroes For Hire #6

"Heroes For Hire" has its mojo back, mostly. "Heroes For Hire" #6 manages to get back to what was working before it went off the rails two issues ago, in large part thanks to strong pencils by Brad Walker.

In this issue, Misty Knight and Paladin work to get the Heroes For Hire brand back on track as Knight guides Paladin through the tracking of a truck full of Hook (the lethal Atlantean narcotic) and a fight with some ninjas, 'cause, why not? Spider-Man jumps in to lend a hand, and in the formula that worked so well initially, picks up where Paladin leaves off, which is fun. At the same time that Knight and Paladin are trying to restore the Heroes For Hire reputation, there's the suggestion that they're looking for the real mastermind behind Puppet Master's recent takeover of Knight and the Heroes For Hire operation.

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are back in fine form here for the most part, using the formula that worked so well in the first three issues, that of concise manageable missions and a strong rotating cast of guest stars anchored by Knight as "Control." Unfortunately, though I prefer this formula of small missions contained within an issue or two and with an overarching larger narrative, that overarching narrative is mostly missing here. It's suggested that Knight and Paladin are working to uncover the mastermind behind the takeover by Puppet Master, but there's little actually done here to that effect. As a result, the issue, while enjoyable and quite fun, feels less layered and complex than the first three. But the book feels as if it is making all the right moves to get back to being a great comic book.

And one of those moves is having Brad Walker back on board for the art. It's amazing the difference a masterful penciler can make on a book of this caliber. Walker brings a soul and punch to his pages not to mention wonderful consistency. There's real consideration in Walker's work for everything from pacing and panel layout to backgrounds and action.

The coloring by Jay David Ramos still skews far too dark for my tastes. The book mostly takes place at night, and thanks to the more adult tone shouldn't look like summer days in the park in every panel, but the darkness is a bit overwhelming at times.

We're still not quite back to the exceptional comic that "Heroes For Hire" was for the first three issues, but issue #6 is a marked improvement from the last two issues, and leaves me hopeful for the next one. Keeping this creative team on board and focused will be key to not losing momentum, not to mention fans, for this book.

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