I have to admit, I grabbed this issue mostly for Sam Wilson’s sake. I’m a longtime fan of the Falcon, and knowing that Sam Wilson is more civically minded than driven by profit, I was curious why Falcon would be in a title dubbed “Heroes for Hire.” That said, I wasn’t going to buy this until I saw the preview, which prominently featured Falcon. Not only do Abnett and Lanning use Sam in a manner that doesn’t compromise the character’s integrity, but they do a great job of telling a Falcon story. Nine pages of this issue give Falcon plenty of room to spread his wings and the writing duo offers up a feasible purpose for Falcon to stick around in issues to come.
At first blush, this appears to be an average story with better than average art. “Control,” a.k.a. Misty Knight, is sending heroes out to disrupt the trafficking of Hook, a narcotic that has found its way ashore from the scattered Atlantean colonies. Sure, it’s a crime story, but it’s a flashy crime story with superheroic snippets and superpowered subplots.
Abnett and Lanning caught lightning in a bottle with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” providing the comic-reading public with a critically-acclaimed darling of a comic that starred a whole bunch of nobodies who evolved into fan favorites. It would only make sense, then, to have the prolific duo try to ply their craft at Marvel’s collection of former Knights and some other “street level” heroes. Flacon, Black Widow, Moon Knight, Elektra, and Paladin all make their presence known in this issue, with the promise of Ghost Rider, Silver Sable, Punisher, and Iron Fist in future issues. It's quite an odd assortment of characters, many of whom have tried more than once to hold onto an ongoing series of his or her own, but many of those characters have very dedicated followings. Collectively, this combination of heroes should draw in a large number of comic buyers. After all, it got a Falcon fan to pick this book up.
Joining his writers from “Guardians,” Brad Walker draws a tangible, impressive real world. Falcon glides through the skies of New Jersey with Redwing at his side, over semi-trucks and past apartment buildings, and it all seems as real as the world outside the window of my dining room where I’m typing this review. Quite simply, Walker’s art is great, and this book really gives him a chance to show what he can do with characters that are more grounded in reality.
It’s going to take me a little while to get over Misty Knight working in an Oracle-type role, but Abnett and Lanning close out this debut issue with a stunning final page surprise. The way this book ends calls the entire story into question. That, moreso than the characters or the art, is the major reason I’ll be checking out the second issue of this series. It’s rare that such an enticing book erupts from seeming mediocrity, but this is definitely a fun read, the type of read that comic books were invented for.