REVIEW: ‘Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #1 - But Why Tho (1)

Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #1 is published by Marvel Comics and is a tie-in to the Devil’s Reign event. The issue is written by Clay McLeod Chapman. The penciller is Manuel Garcia. There are five inkers involved, including Lorenzo Ruggiero, Scott Hanna, Livesay, Andy Owens and Victor Nava. The colour artists are Dono Sánchez-Almara and Fer Sifuentes-Sujo. Joe Sabino is the letterer.

With heroes outlawed, Kingpin has deputized villains to hunt them down. But they also exist to keep the peace. Mayor Fisk brings in the Thunderbolts; a team of villains tasked with looking after New York City. Taskmaster, Rhino and many other criminals must investigate a group of terrorists claiming to fight for humanity. But this team may not be easy to control.

The concept of this issue is a load of fun. The danger of setting up this group is clear from the beginning and it is evident that this will be an action-packed issue. From the opening page, there is a cavalcade of chaos. The pace moves quickly as this first issue lays out how this group is going to operate. Their actions save the day but it is done in an extremely brutal fashion. McCleod excellently demonstrates that the Thunderbolts are not stable and difficult to control. The twist at the end of Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #1 may be a slight surprise, but previous Devil’s Reign issues give it away. 

An exciting factor of this tie-in series is the use of the Thunderbolts name, but this is an all-new line-up. None the villains present in this first issue have been in the team before. This brings new blood into the group, with fresh voices and interactions. The sheer violence on display is different from other incarnations of this team, but Fisk doesn’t seem to mind. Some of the characters available seem great inclusions to a Thunderbolts team. Taskmaster is a mercenary, doing what he’s paid for. Rhino is fantastic in this issue as he shows hints of the development that Dan Slott and other writers have given him. He genuinely seems to care about innocents, not wanting people to get hurt unnecessarily. Agony is also worth mentioning. Sadistic and brilliantly written, she is a callback to McCleod’s previous contribution to Marvel. The dialogue isn’t flawless throughout, but specific characters have more distinct personalities than others.

The art may lead to some very mixed reactions inside this tie-in. This is mainly due to the quiet of inkers that are involved, meaning each page looks slightly different. There are pages that are excellent. Agony consistently looks terrific, the variety of lines making up her design giving her such a stand-out quality towards other characters. And there are some epic panels where the villains look incredible. But there are also moments where the Rhino is hideous. Garcia and the inkers appear to struggle with his head and the horns above it. It looks malformed, misshapen, and squashed. This can be noticed in normal human characters too, leading to them resembling ghouls.

What redeems the art of the comic is that there is a lot of fun to be had within the fight scenes. There is an excessively violent nature to the battles, the opening conflict just a taster of the savagery yet to come.

The colors are a part of this comic that works very well. There is a beautiful use of lighting in the background of most pages. A lovely yellow glow can be seen in the center, leaving a darker hue around the edges. But in the foreground, the colors of the characters themselves is unaffected by the lighting. The shades are still pretty, especially the green and yellow of Electro and the purple of Agony’s Symbiotic skin. 

The lettering is easy to read amid the chaos going on around it, However, the SFX could be more dynamic and exciting.

Devil’s Reign: Villains For Hire #1 is a fun tie-in with glaring issues. As a collection of villains going around murdering people, there is an exciting plot with some exhilarating action. The characters are powerful villains that are often considered C-list, but that is often the charm of comics like this. But the art can be off-putting in several instances, even if it is great in others. Using multiple inkers can be fine for adding variety to the page, but it also results in inconsistencies in the line art.

Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #1 is available where comics are sold.


Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #1
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TL;DR

Devil’s Reign: Villains For Hire #1 is a fun tie-in with glaring issues. As a collection of villains going around murdering people, there is an exciting plot with some exhilarating action. The characters are powerful villains that are often considered C-list, but that is often the charm of comics like this. But the art can be off-putting in several instances, even if it is great in others. Using multiple inkers can be fine for adding variety to the page, but it also results in inconsistencies in the line art.