Not every hero can be independently wealthy like Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark or Charles Xavier. In fact, most of them need to have day jobs. Still, superheroes almost always seem to end up with cool jobs like reporters, litigators or architects. Sometimes, though, they do end up with odd jobs — emphasis on “odd.”
Today, in honor of the Labor Day holiday, we’ve collected some of the weirdest day jobs held by comic book superheroes.
Hal Jordan’s Hard-Traveling Resume
Traditionally, Hal Jordan has had one of the cooler jobs in comics: test pilot. But while most writers will eventually default Hal back to that gig, the longtime Green Lantern actually had a long stretch from the late 1960s through the entirety of the 1970s (he literally got his test pilot job back in the final months of 1979) where he had a string of odd jobs.
It all started when Carol Ferris, Hal Jordan’s love interest and his boss at Ferris Air, announced that she was marrying some other guy in 1966’s “Green Lantern” #49 (by John Broome, Gil Kane and Sid Greene). Hal quit his job and left Coast City. In “Green Lantern” #53 (by Broome and Kane), Hal takes a job as an insurance claims adjustor in the Pacific Northwest. Hal briefly also worked for Evergreen Insurance as a salesman in “Green Lantern” #57 (by Gardner Fox and Kane), a job made difficult by the evil Major Disaster giving people accidents specifically designed to make Evergreen Insurance pay out on unlikely claims.
Alison Blaire’s less-than-dazzling work history
Alison Blaire, the mutant hero known as Dazzler, is right up there with Hal Jordan for having the highest number of odd jobs. Like Hal, Alison has a “main” job that writers tend to eventually revert her to, which is as a singer. But building a career as a singer isn’t easy, and Alison had a number of weird jobs over the years while trying to make it big. Perhaps her oddest job was when she was a back-up dancer in Marvel’s version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video in “Dazzler” #33 (by Mike Carlin, Mark Bright and Vince Colletta).
Super villains aren’t as deadly as comic book deadlines
In “Captain America” #311 (by Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary and Dennis Janke), the real world and the fictional world collided as Steve Rogers met with Mike Carlin, the then-editor of “Captain America” (he had recently traded jobs on the book with Mark Gruenwald, with Gruenwald moving from the book’s editor to its writer and Carlin moving from writer to editor) and found himself hired as the artist on his own comic book series! Not so long after this, Steve Rogers lost his job as Captain America, was no longer able to keep up with his art deadlines, and had to leave the book. Gruenwald had some fun with the idea, though, as Steve became dismayed upon learning that kids didn’t like Captain America as much as they liked Wolverine, Punisher and similar anti-heroes.
It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…Repo Man!
Working as a collection agent makes some sense for superheroes, since they can deal with issues others might not be able to handle. This was the idea that Blue Beetle and Booster Gold came up with in “Justice League International Annual” #2 (by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Bill Willingham and Joe Rubinstein), as the two began to hire themselves out as basically “super-repo men.” Their first case is a high-powered tank — that they promptly lost to the Joker after leaving it unattended at a Justice League barbecue at Mister Miracle’s suburban home. Booster and Beetle went on a few other repo cases during their time in the League together.
Fast Food Nation
A common job for teenagers and superheroes with great powers, but not great resumes, is working in fast food.
Richard Rider, Nova, worked at a few fast food joints before having to go back to work at Marvel Burger alongside some of his high school friends in order to pay for college during his short-lived throwback second ongoing series in 1999 (by Erik Larsen, Joe Bennett and Armando Durruthy).
Beats working for J. Jonah Jameson
Finally, when Ben Reilly took over as Spider-Man from Peter Parker during the period when it seemed like “Peter” was actually a clone of the real Peter Parker, Ben was the real deal, and Peter and Mary Jane had left NYC to get away from everything due to MJ’s pregnancy, he could not very well go work for the Daily Bugle or anywhere else Peter might have once worked. Since this was the mid-1990s, though, coffee houses were hip, so Ben got a job at the Daily Grind, a coffee shop/diner, in “Sensational Spider-Man” #0 (by Dan Jurgens and Klaus Janson).
The diner came complete with a cast of wacky characters, like the kindhearted single mom owner, Shirley Washington, her precocious son, Devon Lewis (who was initially distrustful of Ben but grew to like him), and regular customers, Desiree (a beautiful model), Jessica (who became Ben’s girlfriend — she was also the daughter of the burglar who killed Uncle Ben. Drama!) and old hippie, Buzz. Alas, since Ben’s death after his short stint as Spider-Man, we haven’t seen the Daily Grind once.
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