Over the course of the weekend from April 21 through April 23, the 2006 Pittsburgh Comicon saw lots of excitement and entertainment. One of the highlights of the show was a panel that featured writer/artist/inker Jimmy Palmiotti and "Shi" creator Billy Tucci with the announcement that even the convention promoters kept under their hats until the opening of a panel on Saturday afternoon. In fact, the only word of what the announcement may be came from visitors to Tucci's booth on the convention floor, who were treated to a promo image that featured a smattering of classic Marvel characters. Those characters were named as The Daughters of the Dragon, Black Cat, Shang-Chi, Humbug and a new female character that was revealed as the newest character to bear the mantle of Tarantula.
At the start of the panel, Tucci flashed the assembled crowd the image from his laptop once again for the few that hadn't seen it, and as Palmiotti gave a brief idea about how the new Tarantula would operate (look for a Punisher type personality), it was revealed that these six characters would be featured in a new "Heroes For Hire" series from Marvel that would spin out of the company's planned summer blockbuster "Civil War." Palmiotti and writing collaborator Justin Gray would be taking over scripting chores, while Tucci has signed on to provide the art.
First off, say what? "Heroes for Hire" without Luke Cage? "Heroes for Hire" without Iron Fist? Palmiotti went on to explain that, yeah, that's the concept, and he was just as concerned about it as those in attendance. The problem, he explained, was that, since the book was to be born out of "Civil War," Cage and Iron Fist were going to be in vastly different places come the time these new heroes get together. In fact, Palmiotti said he was told by editorial that Iron Fist would be missing in action thanks to "Civil War," so he certainly couldn't be considered for use.
So why The Daughters of the Dragon, Black Cat, Shang-Chi and Humbug? Palmiotti explained that, through the process of developing the book, he and Gray submitted a list of characters they wanted to potentially use for the book, with editorial generally having final say on who could and couldn't be used. Palmiotti said they tossed about names like American Samurai and Paladin, only to finally end up with the aforementioned list. However, that is not to say that the real big guns from the Marvel stables won't show up here and there. So far, plans have been made to see Reed Richards, Iron Man and Spider-Man jump into the mix, and that's only through the course of the first issue. A rotating cast of characters was also mentioned during the course of the panel, with certain characters moving in and out as the team needs specialties or an inkling of new blood. Ideally, the concept will remain fresh during the course of the series with the introduction of different characters.
As for villains, the final word on who the new hired heroes will be taking on is still in the hands at editorial. Palmiotti said that he pitched a series of villains, but with the book being so closely tied to "Civil War," there is a serious concern that he and Gray not use any of the major villains involved in that ruckus. No matter who it is, though, Palmiotti promised that they "will be nasty." Be that as it may, Palmiotti and Gray have finished the first script, minus an end reveal of the villain, and have submitted it to Marvel.
From there, the book will fall into the hands of Billy Tucci, who for the last several years has been involved solely in independent work. For him, aside from giving the book a sense of style and flair, the biggest challenge may be to get into the groove of producing a monthly book. Though he cited some personal problems, he felt ready to get on the horse and make the book something special. For Tucci, there will be at least five issues that he will work on, while the artist for the second arc of the book has not yet been decided. If doing well, Tucci said he would like to stay with the book, but his contract with Marvel may see him move on to other projects.
With the book featuring the Daughters of the Dragon, currently handled by Palmiotti and Gray, look for "Heroes For Hire" to his the shelves sometime in August, just a month or so after "Daughters" wraps up it's current six issue mini-series.