Sure, some of our childhood favorites have fallen into obscurity over the years, but some licenses have been reborn, bigger – and better – than ever. Let’s take a look at who’s on top of the Property Ladder.
If you’re in trouble, heroes can be like cabs: you can never find one when you need one. How can you get in touch with Superman if you have Mole People in your backyard? You can’t email Captain America if Batroc the Leaper is stalking your new girlfriend. In 1972 Marvel Comics and new character Luke “Power Man” Cage came up with a solution when he became a “hero for hire.” The idea resonated with readers and has continued to be a recurring notion in the Marvel Universe ever since, with another series launching in December.
It all started with Luke Cage. After escaping prison and clearing himself of the crime he was falsely accused of committing, he used his new-found powers to help anyone who would pay, although he did occasionally waive the fee depending on the situation. He got paid to fill in for the Thing as a member of the Fantastic Four, picked up a check with the Defenders, and single-handedly invaded Latveria when Dr. Doom reneged on payment. Luke eventually teamed up with Danny Rand, the martial artist known as Iron Fist, and alongside allies Misty Knight & Colleen Wing became the best known iteration of Heroes for Hire. The company stayed together for 75 issues, but was eventually split apart when Luke was accused of killing Danny. (Both eventually recovered, of course.)
When many of Marvel’s heroes were presumed dead following the Onslaught debacle, Luke & Danny formed a new version of HfH to help fill the void. This group featured a rotating group of members, including the Black Knight, Hercules, She-Hulk, Ant-Man Scott Lang, a new White Tiger, the original Human Torch and Deadpool, and was funded by the Oracle Corporation, owned by Namor the Sub-Mariner. It didn’t last very long and was cancelled after 20 issues.
The third HfH came about in the midst of Marvel’s Civil War event. The first version not to feature Luke or Danny, it was started and run by their associates Misty & Colleen, the Daughters of the Dragon. Membership this time also included heroes Shang Chi, Black Cat and a new Tarantula, the heroic mercenary Paladin, and reforming villains Orka & Humbug. Like the previous series it didn’t catch on, lasting only 15 issues.
Now Marvel’s at it again, with cosmic scribes Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning writing and art by Brad Walker. Following up on the street-level Shadowlands event, it seems the members will vary on a case-by-case basis. So far we know of returnees Iron Fist, Misty Knight & Paladin, team newcomers Black Widow, Moon Knight, Silver Sable, Falcon & Elektra, and wild-cards Ghost Rider & the Punisher.
Will this series find the same success as the original, or end after a brief run like the previous two Heroes for Hire on-goings? Only time and sales can tell.