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Joining various characters together in a team comic book has been a tradition dating back to the day DC decided to have its biggest heroes sit around a table and tell stories of their greatest adventures. Yes, the trend started with the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #3, but it continues to this very day.

It is a way for companies to give their characters a little more exposure. For characters that have their own series, it allows fans a chance to get a little bit more of their favorites. For B-list characters, it allows the company to show them off to readers in a way that might pique fresh interest. Marvel has been a master at collecting random characters together into team books. Look at The Avengers and The Defenders, two of the longest running titles in Marvel’s history, and they were composed of heroes that really had no reason to hang out with one another.

Over the last decade and a half, Marvel has used the Heroes for Hire concept to try to make a successful team book from a group of minor characters. The company is returning to that well again this week.


The concept originated in the pages of Luke Cage: Hero for Hire. In a break from the typical superhero mold, Luke Cage didn’t engage in superheroics for altruistic reasons. He wanted to get paid. He’d save your life, protect your building and a whole bunch of other heroic things, but only at a price. 


Eventually, Marvel moved Iron Fist, a character whose solo series was recently cancelled, into the book with issue #50 and the title became Power Man and Iron Fist. The rent-a-hero concept continued on for the remaining issues of the series.


In 1997, 11 years after Power Man and Iron Fist ended, Luke Cage and Iron Fist were reunited in Heroes for Hire. The series was created as a result of the Onslaught storyline, and the pair were now joined by B-list characters such as She-Hulk, Hercules, Ant-Man, and the Black Knight. The team was corporately sponsored and filled the void left by the departed Fantastic Four and Avengers. This series lasted 19 issues before it was cancelled.
Nine years later, another major crossover, Civil War, brought a new Heroes for Hire team. Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, supporting characters from the Power Man and Iron Fist series, head up a new batch of government-approved mercenaries. They were joined by C-listers such as Shang-Chi, Black Cat, Paladin, Humbug, and Orka. It lasted only 15 issues before it, too, was cancelled.


The latest attempt at getting a long-lasting Heroes for Hire series up and running arrives this week. Spinning off from the Shadowland event, it features a mix of “street” characters who have recently had their ongoing series cancelled (Black Widow, Punisher, Ghost Rider, Moon Knight), supporting characters who have had a series in their name before (Elektra, Silver Sable, Shroud, Falcon) and characters with ties to previous incarnations (Iron Fist, Paladin, Misty Knight).


It is a unique group of heroes, although not every character will be in every issue (team membership will revolve, as storyline dictates). But there are quite a few heavy hitters in the cast. The third time could be the charm for Heroes for Hire.

Also out this week:

Wolverine: The Best There Is #1:

The time of uncertainty is over. You can stop your worrying and go back and resume your everyday lives. Everything will be all right. Wolverine has more than one ongoing series in his name yet again. Everything is finally back to normal. The long, national nightmare is finally over.

I kid, but it has been a couple of months since Wolvie fans had another comic to spend their hard earned money on. This series will be the second tier Wolverine title (if only for the fact that it’s not written by Jason Aaron) and does not appear to be following the “Logan’s in Hell” storyline. So, if you have been looking for an alternative for that arc, well, here you go.

Charlie Huston (W), Juan Jose Ryp (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.


Marineman #1:

Everyone knows that Image got its start as the home of where artists can try their hand at writing their own creations. These creator–owned titles are now legendary—Spawn, Savage Dragon, Youngblood and others. Even now, almost 20 years later, that same spirit is alive and well, as another superstar artist brings his creation to the company.

British artist Ian Churchill has worked with Image co-founder Rob Liefeld in the past, but he is probably better known for his work on Supergirl, Uncanny X-Men, and Cable. He brings his own creation, Marineman, to the company. At first glance, it might seem like an Aquaman pastiche, but that might only be on the surface. Regardless, it is a returning to its roots for Image. 

Ian Churchill (W/A), Image Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.


Shadowland #5:

Here is what we know about the future. The Black Panther will be taking over the role of Daredevil and protecting Hell’s Kitchen. Someone resembling the old Daredevil will be undergoing a journey of redemption. How we get to this point and what else the future holds in store will be revealed starting with this issue.

This has been one of the most exciting stories to feature old Hornhead in a long time. The demonic possession angle is quite a break from the somber realism of Bendis and Brubaker, but still fits with the character. You can’t be faulted by being turned off by the change in direction, but if you let this series lapse you missed a real barnburner of a story.  

Andy Diggle (W), Billy Tan (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Final Issue.


Pinocchio Vampire Slayer Volume 2: The Great Puppet Theater:

This series taps into two very popular publishing trends: literary mash-ups where classic tales are joined with horror concepts and, of course, vampires. And it seems only natural that a puppet made out of wood would be the best vampire hunter around. An idea that inventive calls for a repeat visit, and that’s what we are getting this week.

Pinocchio is back and this time, he’s brought friends. The further he goes into the vampire community in search of vengeance, the more he realizes that he needs help. He allies himself with the finest puppet vampire fighters around. But will they be able to build a sturdy fighting team, or will the way they rub each other cause an inferno of conflict and dissention? Pinocchio hopes for the former, because the stakes are too high for them not to succeed.

Van Jensen & Dustin Higgins (W), Dustin Higgins (A), Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics, $10.95. Original Graphic Novel.

Lady Death #0:

The 1990s weren’t a complete morass of get rich quick, copycat characters. Some characters created in that decade survived the test of time. Most of them seemed to have several things in common—be female, have big breasts, wear an impossibly revealing costume, and carry a sword that is as big as they are. An example of this trend returns to comics this week—Lady Death.

Lady Death was created as a villainous supporting character in the pages of Brian Pulido’s Evil Ernie comic books. She was a supernatural temptress that encouraged Ernie to kill every living human being. She proved popular to get her own series where she was softened a little bit (she was given a backstory and a reason for wanting all of humanity dead). She has outlasted at least two comic companies and her most recent home, Avatar Press, is creating a special imprint just for her.

Brian Pulido & Mike Wolfer (W), Marcelo Mueller (A), Boundless Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Daredevil #512:

Shadowland has fallen. Hell’s Kitchen is in ruins. The Marvel Universe is forever changed. But the final fate of Matt Murdock and Daredevil has yet to be decided. The final destiny of the Man Without Fear begins here. Has he gone too far to be redeemed? Or does the road to salvation start in this series?

Don’t let that “final issue” blurb in the solicitation fool you. The series will continue with a new creative team and a new cast for us to follow. But this is the end of Matt Murdock’s run as Daredevil—at least for the foreseeable future. Come witness the end of an era—and one of the better storylines in Hornhead’s history—in this special issue.

Andy Diggle (W), Roberto De La Torre (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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Comments

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Nov 30, 2010 at 1:57pm

    HEROES FOR HIRE is a DnA book isn't it? For that reason I'd say it's a must-buy.

  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Dec 1, 2010 at 2:55pm

    you know WHAT is cool?
    Heroes for Hire #4 of the Civil War-era? That has ME with a cameo :D
    REALLY! :D

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