Abnett and Lanning Place Their Bid on HEROES FOR HIRE

Marvel Teaser - HEROES FOR HIRE #1

Last week, Marvel rolled out another one of their teaser image-oriented marketing campaigns, first sharing an image of Elektra with the caption "Assassin For Hire." New Elektra series? Not quite.

The following, corresponding images — Falcon, Misty Knight and Paladin — made it look a lot more like it was promoting a new Heroes for Hire ongoing, and it was confirmed as such earlier this week. Launching in December, not only are all four of those characters in the mix, so are Ghost Rider, Punisher, classic Hero for Hire Iron Fist, Shroud, Silver Sable and current Secret Avengers Moon Knight and Black Widow.

Behind the book is the former Guardians of the Galaxy creative team of co-writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and artist Brad Walker. It represents a continued shift of the DnA team, associated in recent years with the company's cosmic books, towards working on the broader Marvel Universe.

But other than the characters and creative team, readers still don't know a ton about the new Heroes for Hire. Who is hiring these heroes? Who's offering them up for sale? Is it just a coincidence that nearly all of these characters happened to be heavily involved in current Daredevil-centric, "street-level" storyline Shadowland, which ends the month before Heroes for Hire debuts? How much does a hero cost, anyway?

Newsarama consulted Abnett and Lanning — answering collectively as "DnA" — to try and find out answers to at least some of these questions, even if we still don't know the current market price for a Shroud.

Newsarama: The two of you have written in various genres over the years, but the timing of this seems like, along with Iron Man/Thor starting the month before, Abnett and Lanning moving away from the cosmic material and towards the greater Marvel Universe as a whole. Is this an accurate way of looking at things?

DnA: Yes. Marvel is giving us a chance to stretch our legs a bit, and we’re enjoying the chance to tackle different types of stories and subjects. But there’s still a significant SF quotient: Iron Man/Thor is pretty cosmic in scope, and there’s Rocket and Groot. With Heroes, though, we’re really going for the opposite end of the spectrum - street level action.

Nrama: And it's not just the writing team — Brad Walker is providing art here, post-Guardians of the Galaxy. How is working with him again, especially on such a different project?

DnA: Brad is great and we love his art, so any opportunity to work with him, we’d take it. Though it’s not cosmic, HfH has a similar group dynamic to Guardians, a quasi-team that combines all sorts of odd character mixes (and some ‘forgotten’ or neglected characters too), so it’s got a comfortable feel for us as creators.

Nrama: It's been established that the cast of the book won't be operating as a "team" per se, but a rotating crew as the missions dictate. But it still seems like there must be a unifying factor membership-wise; a character or two that maybe serves in a supervisory, leadership position. Is that the case? Iron Fist, perhaps? Misty Knight? (I understand that the answer to that question may very well be one of the big secrets of the series, but figured I had to ask.)

DnA: You’re right. There is a ‘handler’ or two...and we won’t tell you who it is! It’s a reveal that is part of the story: this is a series about assigning (“hiring”) the right characters for the right missions, but there’s also a big, growing backstory about the whole venture and the mysteries surrounding it.

Nrama: Speaking of lineups, the cover for #1 shows Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Elektra, Punisher and Ghost Rider. Is this the "team" we'll see working together on the opening story arc? Or maybe just a group of characters that look cool together on a cover?

DnA: Bit of both. Some are in the first issue itself, others in the second etc. Our editor, Bill Rosemann, wanted to set out our stall from the start and show what sort of characters would feature heavily in this series. And just because a character’s been ‘guest hired’ for one mission, it doesn’t mean they won’t recur in the story.

Nrama: Here's something curious — in your interview over at Marvel.com, Black Widow was mentioned as a member, but was missing from the solicitations for #1. Is she going to be a part of the comic?

DnA: Yes, she is.

Nrama: Luke Cage was the original Hero for Hire — though he's already pulling double-duty in New Avengers and Thunderbolts, might he eventually play a role in here as well?

DnA: You can’t do a HfH series without at least mentioning Cage, can you?

Nrama: What about the new, Shadowland-introduced Power Man, who we know is still working with Iron Fist — in fact, starring in an upcoming miniseries with him starting in January — could we see him at some point?

DnA: These are all viable characters. Remember, it depends on the mission.

Nrama: There are plenty of characters already announced to talk about. One thing that stands out is that Shroud, Paladin, Misty Knight and Silver Sable — the Shadowland: Blood on the Streets cast — are all listed as part of the book. Is that a deliberate decision to keep those four characters together, and evolve the dynamic established by Antony Johnston in that series?

DnA: Yes, and it’s a deliberate decision to keep in play four very cool but often over-looked characters. We really want to see if we can’t raise the profile of characters like Paladin and Shroud like we did with Rocket and Groot.

Nrama: In a broader sense, nearly all of the Heroes for Hire characters played a big role in Shadowland. Given that, to what extent is Heroes for Hire a Shadowland "follow-up"? Just in the cast, or might we see more specific story elements followed up as well?

DnA: The casts connects us, and the story fits into the post-Shadowland continuity quite deliberately. if you’ve been enjoying the event, this is the natural follow up, but HfH is also its own thing, so you don’t have to have read Shadowland to understand what’s going on. It’s a jump-on point for the street characters, in other words.

Nrama: It seems like a major component of the series is bringing together characters you wouldn't expect to be working together. Are there any particularly intriguing interactions early on that readers should be looking out for?

DnA: We think the deployment of Paladin is going to please people. The rest is on a strictly need-to-know basis.


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