I'm not really sure what happened to this book in the span of five issues. It went from a really snazzy concept that promised a cool and stylish rotation of Marvel's street-level vigilantes to a somewhat clumsy resolution to its first arc… although somehow it's still promising that same snazz.
It's possible Heroes for Hire #5 just felt off due to the awkward artwork from penciler Robert Atkins as compared to the livelier look in the earlier issues provided by Brad Walker, but with any luck, we'll get back to form fairly quickly.
It's a cool idea – taking DC's Oracle concept and giving it a cinematic 70s kind of groove, with the smooth voice of Misty Knight opening each issue with a "Hello, Hero. Are you fire hire tonight?" It's a book designed to give us neat-o superhero team-ups, like Silver Sable and Ghost Rider, or pitting Moon Knight against a velociraptor, being written by the fun Marvel Cosmic team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. However, the leeway they had with writing obscure space characters isn't quite as copious with these earthbound characters, and the dissonance was noticeable with Sable's voice back in issue 2, and that crops up again in this issue when we learn that the unabashed womanizer Paladin is apparently in love with Misty – not that he admits it. But he's figured out that something's up with her, and he goes so far as to recruit Iron Fist, her ex-boyfriend, to help him suss out what's really happening.
Of course, what's really happening is that Misty's been laid up somewhere, being manipulated by the Puppet Master for some reason to hire all these heroes to do their good deeds. It was a nice bit of rising tension throughout the first issues of the series, as we're left to wonder just why old Philip Masters would want to send heroes all over town doing good deeds while constantly smiling nefariously. But now, in an overly rushed fashion, we find everything out. Ostensibly, he's setting up a network of puppet heroes for some unknown employer and testing a blend of his magic mind-control toys and some high-tech accompaniments, and that includes trying to induce the Punisher to murder Misty, who's finally awoken from her coma.
I don't quite understand how having a cybernetic arm can grant mental control over technology, but apparently that's Misty's thing now. I'm not quite sure why Masters needed to bring the Punisher in to kill a woman at his complete mercy, as he had plenty of time to figure out ways to deal with her if she woke up, but we'll chalk it up to 'supervillain flourish.' It just didn't feel like a satisfying way to resolve things.
That said, the premise is still intact. Paladin convinces Misty to start up their operation for real, without any nefarious influence, in order to find out who exactly was funding said nefarious influence. So there's a good chance we'll get back to form with #6, when we get the obligatory guest-appearance from Spider-Man.
Heroes for Hire is a property that, no matter what form it takes, never seems to perform quite as well as we all want it to. Let's hope this iteration breaks that mold.