In 1972, Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr. introduced Marvel Comics readers to a new kind of hero and a new style of heroics with “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.” In the first issue of this new series, the title character acquired super powers and decided to use these powers as a way of supporting himself. To some, it may have seemed less than altruistic, but it’s also a very populist model. It was very hard for your average man to get the attention of heroes like the Avengers or the Fantastic Four, but anyone could walk through Luke Cage’s door and engage his services.
The concept of a superpowered hero marketing his services to the public proved a successful business mode, running through the duration Cage’s solo title and the subsequent title he shared with his friend Iron Fist. Over the years, it has launched two further ongoing “Heroes for Hire” series, where costumed heroes aided desperate clients and often became embroiled in epic street level crises that rock the streets of New York City. In the aftermath of “Shadowland,” a Marvel event dubbed, “The Battle for the Soul of New York,” the NYC streets will need all the heroes it can get, so this December writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – known to their fans as DnA – and artist Brad Walker will reopen the offices of “Heroes for Hire” for a new ongoing series. CBR News spoke with the writers about the book via e-mail where they collectively answered questions as DnA.
CBR News: Dan and Andy, the two of you have spent most of the last several years creating intergalactic cosmic epics at Marvel; books like “Nova,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the current “Thanos Imperative.” But in the 90s, you worked on books like “The Punisher,” “Legends of the Dark Knight” and the criminally underrated “Resurrection Man.” Longtime fans know you’re no strangers to earthbound, street level, crime/action tales. How does it feel to be able to return to this genre?
DnA: Exciting! We’ve loved working on the cosmic books, but this is a really tasty opportunity to do something completely different and explore different areas of the imagination. It’s good to be back on the streets!
Let’s start by discussing the cast of characters involved in this incarnation of “Heroes for Hire.” You’re working with pretty much a “who’s who” of street level Marvel characters: Punisher, Moon Knight, Shroud, Elektra, Paladin, Silver Sable, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, Falcon, Misty Knight and possibly several more. What do you find most interesting about this cast?
They’re some of Marvel’s coolest and most classic heroes – it’s a treat to be able to play with these toys! The other fun part is the eclectic nature of this book. This is a “team” that alters its composition as the mission demands, and often “hires” heroes who don’t realize what they’re part of. It’s very different and it will allow us to explore one of our favorite pastimes (which got such a good response on “Guardians of the Galaxy”) which is digging up and using great but minor characters you might have forgotten about, in unusual combinations.
One of the things that makes the Heroes for Hire group stand out from the many other Marvel super teams is the “for Hire” aspect. What can you tell us about that element in this incarnation of the group? How will that work? Are they all members of sort of a super powered detective agency?
No. As we mentioned above, they are like specialists or consultants who get pulled in for specific needs. Sometimes without them knowing it.
Some of these characters have no problem working for money, like Misty Knight, Elektra and Paladin. Other characters, like the Punisher and the Shroud, seem like they would not be “for hire.” Can you reveal anything about the motivations of these characters for being in a book like this?
We’re using the term “hire” in a loose way. Some of these guys work for ready cash; others will get involved because of a particular cause or principle. The HfH handler finds the right buttons to push to get someone on board. An incentive, an information trade, etc.
Speaking of motivations, how would you describe the initial dynamic of this group? It seems like things could get pretty ugly since many of the initially revealed members have wildly different philosophies on crime fighting.
A very careful eye will be kept on the operating dynamic. Warning signs will be heeded!
In terms of plot and theme, what is the opening story of “Heroes for Hire” about? Is this a “getting the band together” style tale or is the group already assembled when the story begins?
We take you straight into the first “mission” to show how the group dynamic – and the hirings -work. But there’s also a really sexy and murky back story running along under each “mission.”
What kinds of threats are you interested in throwing at your cast? It seems like you’ve got one of the most cunning and tactically experienced teams in the Marvel U.
These are, at heart, going to be violent, street crime level adventures, vigilante actions, very techno thriller – but every one of them will have some flavor of the Marvel Universe in it. These are street crimes and menaces that could only happen in the MU.
In books like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” you had individual storylines, but there was also a larger, overarcing story you built to as well. Will you be following a similar gameplan with “Heroes for Hire?”
That’s a big yes. We’ve got lots of story ideas to keep things moving and fresh, but we’ve also got that big “underplot” growing in the background that should supply lots of twists, shocks and reveals, and bring the readers back for more each time! So get ready – we start hiring soon!
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