After some concern for the future of Heroes for Hire after an awkward and lackluster conclusion to their first big arc in issue #5, it's great to see that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have bounced right back with issue #6, which brings back the joie de vivre and gets back to having a lot of fun with the premise of Misty Knight behind the scenes organizing the street-level loner-hero efforts via her sexy voice alone.
Well, she's got computers and stuff, but mainly it's the voice. Each issue opening with a simple "Hello, hero. Are you for hire tonight?" in a close-up of her lips and a microphone so cinematic that it feels like it belongs in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Makes perfect sense, since Misty's origin as a character is a throwback to those 70s Pam Grier movies like Foxy Brown. It just works.
After shaking off the Puppet Master mess, Misty's back in business with Paladin as her sole agent, handling all the field work until they can re-establish themselves as an enterprise free of nefarious supervillain influence. What better way to reboot than by recruiting the crown jewel of all street-loner heroes, the Amazing Spider-Man. Let's forget that he's on every Avengers team as well as the former Fantastic Four right now - for our purposes here, he's the same lone wolf he's always been. When he happens upon Paladin getting jumped by ninjas, he just has to stick his nose in and find out what the dilly-o is - which Paladin hates but Misty likes, since she gets to make the business pitch (read 'not necessarily for money if you're the altruistic type') to the wall-crawler and get him on board.
This is a good thing, because when Paladin gets bushwhacked by Batroc the Leaper, Spidey's on the case - and that's not going to do much to endear the purple-clad merc to him.
The dialog from DnA is crackling here, as Pal and the webhead butt heads ostensibly over the 'hero but only for the right price' sticking point that crops up between them, but with an undercurrent of Paladin's jealousy of Spider-Man's general fame and status - especially when he's trying to impress his boss, for whom he's secretly got a thing. Spider-Man requires some good banter, and DnA pull it off here, while also starting to delve into what seems to be the slow growth of a conscience on the notoriously all-business Paladin - an interesting development that should make for some good story fodder down the line. Thankfully, Brad Walker's also back on the penciling duties to make it easier for us to shake off the visually unpleasant memories of that last sub-par outing, too, with help from some great inking and coloring work from Drew Hennessy and Jay David Ramos. And they're even talking up Batroc, who far too easily falls into 'joke' status, by letting him get the drop on Paladin figuratively and literally. I'm always a sucker for building-up C-listers into credible threats.
That promise that Heroes for Hire always has as a concept seems to be back on track here, and let's hope that it stays this snazzy.