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Devil's Reign: Villains For Hire TPB
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire’ TPB review: Justice at a cost

With Wilson Fisk as the Mayor, it only makes sense that ‘law and order’ is corrupt. But how can U.S. Agent save us?

Now that the Devil’s Reign event is over and the trade paperback collections are out, it’s easy to get lost trying to figure out which ones to pick up. I took a risk with Villains for Hire, which also features Moon Knight. This quick read entertained me but also added to my experience with Devil’s Reign. The collection has the advantage of taking more time on the lower-tiered characters and adding to their voice. Within this trade, you will get more insights into the actions of U.S. Agent and Moon Knight. You’ll see some wild violence and character drama showcasing people in hopeless situations.

I love the Villains for Hire main covers, as they have a photo realism to them that makes them stand out. The first issue has the Thunderbolts team looking heroic, saving people; Taskmaster is holding a kid, and they’re both smiling! Issue #2 has U.S. Agent protecting a cop and deflecting bullets with his shield, which is heroic too. Then issue #3 tells a different story, with the fists of the Thunderbolts all finding their way to U.S. Agent’s face. Now, this isn’t related to the comics, but I do enjoy the variant cover by Paulo Siqueira for issue #2 and how it was reused and “mocked” for the upcoming Thunderbolts #1 that deals with the Thunderbolts after Dark Reign. Such a great marketing idea makes me want to continue the Thunderbolts’ journey in that series.

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Devil's Reign: Villains For Hire TPB
Marvel Comics

In issue #1 of Villains for Hire, we see that the team consists of Whiplash, Rhino, Electro, Agony, and Taskmaster. I found it interesting that in their opening mission of stopping the Humanity Liberation Movement from terrorizing the Met Gala event, the Thunderbolts’ first try to look like heroes and stop the bad guys. Yet, the minute someone spills blood, they all go bloodthirsty, which was interesting to see with Rhino as I’ve never really seen him be a killer. The team continues its hunt for the Movement, and it gets messy in their second bout, which is a wild scene where artist Manuel Garcia cuts loose and shows the villains’ deadly skills. Fisk is making quite the statement with his Thunderbolts.

Devil's Reign: Villains For Hire TPB
Marvel Comics

Clay McLeod Chapman’s opening to issue #2 is bold. The way he ended part 1 with U.S. Agent walking in to join and then picking up that thread was excellent. It works in this trade paperback, and I’m sure that was quite the cliffhanger as the issues were being released regularly. The way U.S. Agent handled himself with Wilson Fisk was tremendous and showed remarkable growth on John Walker’s part. I was proud of the character and felt he was thinking instead of just being there. Even when he confronts the team and announces himself in charge, it was a sizable scene where Manuel Garcia plays it lively as the characters clash. Speaking of action, we get plenty at Fisk’s campaign speech which turns into a nightmare, but that ending scene is so somber, and Garcia plays it nicely with the hurt and reactions.

Issue #3 continues with the clean-up from the campaign, and we get to see more of the mystery villain’s attack. U.S. Agent and Agony is such an odd pairing, but Agony’s interest in Agent shows a human side to her that makes her compelling. Having read the main Devil’s Reign story, I was hoping to see more of Rhino’s turn against Fisk and the Thunderbolts; there was a little hint at him not feeling the style and actions of the team, but when the big moment came, it wasn’t anything special which I think was a miss. Yet the creative team does an excellent job of showing how wild and mad Fisk has become with shutting down the heroes and getting his way.

The miniseries then drifts towards Devil’s Reign #5, leaving me wanting an issue #4 with more insights into this Thunderbolts team and their fallout.

Devil's Reign: Villains For Hire TPB
Marvel Comics

For the next part of this collected edition, we witness Moon Knight’s time in prison for being a hero. The intro to this story is funny, with 8-Ball setting himself up as a made man to his new cellmate to find out it’s Moon Knight, which pays off when the prisoners are trying to eat, and they keep rejecting 8-Ball and Marc has to save him. Then we get to see the prison fights and just how much of a dog Marc is while on the inside. There is a scene where Marc gets to see the current top fighter, and they mix words, but Marc’s comeback of breath on the glass and creation of a makeshift mask was the proper response from Moon Knight. Such a fantastic moment.

Devil's Reign: Villains For Hire TPB
Marvel Comics

I like the motivation that is revealed via flashback within the story. I remember talking with another fan about Devil’s Reign issue #1, and it felt like Moon Knight’s capture should’ve been more significant than it was. This one-shot explains why Moon Knight would allow himself to be placed in prison, and I like the idea of his Midnight Mission. While it starts as a noble, heroic effort on Moon Knight’s part, it quickly turns as mercy is offered, but the bad guy doesn’t want to play along, so Moon Knight offers his wild brand of justice. Jed MacKay, Federico Sabbatini, Lee Loughridge, and the rest of the creative team crafted a fantastic one-shot that is a perfect introduction to Moon Knight’s world.

The trade paperback collection is pretty standard, collecting these two stories with some art and variant covers. If you’re a Moon Knight fan, I would say hunt down the single issue for your collection, but if you’re a completist for Thunderbolts or the Devil’s Reign event, it is an excellent value for the issues collected. I enjoyed reading this and felt that both creative teams captured character struggles nicely. It added to my motivations as I got a more profound understanding of U.S. Agent’s place in the event and why Moon Knight went to prison. The art isn’t my style, but I did appreciate the layouts and efforts exercised to present some worthwhile story.

An entertaining quick read that adds more motivation to characters like U.S. Agent, Moon Knight, and the Thunderbolts, Villains For Hire expands the Devil’s Reign event by giving more screentime to the characters and integrating itself very nicely back into the fold.

Devil's Reign: Villains For Hire TPB
‘Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire’ TPB review: Justice at a cost
Devil's Reign: Villains For Hire TPB
An entertaining quick read that adds more motivation to characters like U.S. Agent, Moon Knight, and the Thunderbolts, Villains For Hire expands the Devil's Reign event by giving more screentime to the characters and integrating itself very nicely back into the fold.
Reader Rating1 Vote
9
This extra side story helped to give more purpose to how Fisk was using the T-Bolts and U.S. Agent's involvement in the story
The Moon Knight one-shot was excellent and a great way to introduce new readers to the character
The creative teams produced some entertaining stories and I think reading them in trade gave an extra advantage by taking out the wait time
The collection saves you some cash and hunting time in case you didn't pick them up on initial release
I feel the Thunderbolts story would've benefitted from a fourth issue that showcased the fallout from the team's actions
The art style wasn't my cup of tea
8
Good
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