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Titans: Villains For Hire Special

Allow a bold statement to begin this review: Titans Villains for Hire is the reason people read comics. Not specifically this issue, but what the issue does. It is a well organized book full of action and raw emotion.

How much do you know about Slade Wilson the Deathstroke Terminator? This issue would have you believe that you don't know anything about the man. On the other hand, it will tell you everything you need to know about Ryan Choi the Atom. Ryan ends his school day fighting a man that controls plant life. He's taught all day, fought a villain and won only to come home to Deathstroke sitting in his living room with a shot gun. Slade makes a statement that sums up the book nicely, "It's not personal, it's business."

So begins the battle between the Atom and Slade's Titans. Ryan's only hope is to get to his JLA beacon, but as he soon finds out, Slade isn't alone. He's introduced to each member of the team. Subsequently a flash back of them joining the team is revealed to the reader. Ryan amazingly holds his own against the team of: Cheshire, Tattooed Man, Cinder and Osiris. The only reason they're on the team is because Slade has promised them something in return. The thing is, it's not money, it's not power, it's something personal for each of them.                                                                                                                                                                                             https://www.entertainmentfuse.com/images/Titans Variant.jpg

For Cheshire, it's a way out of job she screwed up. Recently her daughter was killed and her way of life is in disarray. Slade gives her a reason to live again. For Tattooed Man, it's revenge on the man that killed his son. Granted Slade is offering them all something, but he's also relating to them each with his own experiences. He does what any good leader does and uses his experience to connect with his team. And all the while, Ryan is fighting for his life... until his girlfriend shows up. Amazingly, Slade tells his team to stand down and gives Ryan a choice: Send her away or involve her.

This book really is special, it's the complete package: Story and Art. Eric Wallace (Titans proper) does so many writing tricks that it's ridiculous, but they all work together effortlessly. He tells a story that both humanizes the hero and the villains, while doing an amazing job of making you care about these C-list characters. Ryan Choi was forgettable as the Atom. He quickly became a bad joke from the mind of Grant Morrison. His entire creation was based out of convenience for Morrison's Final Crisis and as such never really got a fair shake. Wallace not only makes you care for him, but like him all in one issue.

The story subtle asks one question the entire issue: Are these bad guys really that bad? Granted they're trying to kill Ryan, but the flashbacks that Wallace adds casts the team into a different light... or grey area. The strongest element of the writing is Wallace's narrative. He has Ryan narrated his thoughts throughout the entire issue. He's a man faced with defeating Deathstroke who's nearly defeated the entire JLA single handedly and he must beat him to live. Yet his thoughts are calm, he knows what he must do and he works towards his goals. Very much like the writing. Wallace knows what the issue must accomplish and he makes it so.

Often times, remarkable stories are lost in muddled or mediocre art, not the case here. A total of three artists work on the special including: Fabrizio Fiorentino (Catwoman), Mike Mayhew (Savage) and Sergio Arino (Thunderbolts). It's beautiful to see all three styles working together in harmony. Granted there are dips in the art at times, the artists focus their detail on different aspects of the panel but it's all consistently great. All of the art is united by HiFi Designs color pallet. That's a major success for this book. If the color had been different for each artist the flow of the book would have been broken up and the story telling subsequently choppy.

Wallace and company put out an impressive issue that is worthy of the Titans banner and adds interest to the Brightest Day event. The story continues in Titans #24 and if it's half as good as this story that's a win for comic readers. This book actually feels like a jumping off point for a new series, too bad it's just a special. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Secret Six didn't get some company on the shelf.

Story – 10.0

Plot – 10.0

Art – 9.8

Color – 9.8

Overall – 9.9

Once in a comic shop, when Teen Titans was launching, a girl put on her pull list "Titans". The guy behind the counter quickly shot back at her, "This is the new Titans." Which she replied, "Well, just in case they bring back the original Titans." I guess it just goes to show, the fans are always right. Follow Dustin on Twitter and ask him anything on FormSpring.



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