How about a comic starring a hastily assembled team of villains delivered to you as almost-protagonists? You’ve heard that one before?
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have been having some fun using the Purple Man over in “Heroes for Hire,” so it almost goes to figure that they’d try their hand at having Zebediah Killgrave pull together a team of villains that includes such luminaries as Avalanche and the Shocker. Not exactly headlining scoundrels, but certainly they have their following.
The issue opens with Shocker, Avalanche, and their “teammates” Scourge, Death Stalker, and Headhunter trying to pull off a caper. Their efforts are coordinated by the Purple Man, who is safely tucked away in a hidden locale. Abnett and Lanning do a good job with the voices of the villains, but they don’t do enough to make any of those scallywags endearing from the get-go. Shocker has a semantics debate with Purple Man regarding the term “villain.” Unfortunately, that’s one of the most entertaining parts of this story, and it can be found in the preview here on CBR.
To spice things up, though, Abnett and Lanning throw more villains in the path of the villains who are working for Purple Man. Crossfire (who appears to have completely recovered from the severe beating Hawkeye put on him a while back), Bombshell, and Tiger Shark check in for the opposition and immediately make the story more interesting. Tiger Shark is the rogue I dialed into this title to check out. Like I said, even Avalanche and Shocker have fans, right?
Tiger Shark gets a star turn in this issue, and just typing that makes me realize that this issue either exists as proof that every character has the potential to be a great character or, quite simply, this book just isn’t great when Tiger Shark carries the story.
Renato Arlem’s art is serviceable. His work is heavily detailed and he rotates between fun, dynamic poses and just anatomically bizarre poses (mostly for the female characters). He delivers odd depictions of some characters. Evidently Tiger Shark can grow. Like Giant-Man. After all, he stops a boat and dwarfs Death Stalker in doing so, appearing to be no less than ten feet tall. Sure, Tiger Shark’s a big guy, but that scene was so off that it pulled me out of the story long enough to disrupt the flow. Arlem follows that up with Tiger Shark ducking like a toddler when his team’s transportation materializes. There are odd choices all the way around, but far from terrible art.
I expected a little more from this story than it gave me. There’s nothing here for me to care enough about to come back for another issue, let alone four more. I’m sure some readers will find more in this book than I did, but if you really want an enjoyable tale with villainous leads, fun adventure, and good art, Marvel is also publishing a little title called “Thunderbolts.” Check it out. Hold the two up to each other. You’re sure to find a book that scratches that evil itch for you.