Busting Villains for Fun and Profit: Palmiotti and Gray talk "Heroes for Hire."

Fri, August 11th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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A "Civil War" between the costumed heroes of the Marvel Universe means that the villains of the MU will have a lot of time to run wild and wreak havoc. However, supervillains planning their next rampage should also consider the fact that with the heroes of the Marvel Universe pre-occupied by "Civil War," a daring team of bounty hunters could make a lot of money. That daring team are the protagonists of "Heroes for Hire," a new ongoing series beginning this month by writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and featuring art by Billy Tucci. CBR News spoke to Palmiotti and Gray about the series.

"Heroes for Hire" was born out of Palmiotti and Gray's desire to do a follow up story to their "Daughters of the Dragon" mini-series which starred Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. "We were already working on 'Daughters of the Dragon' and wanted to swing a deal where we could continue working with those characters on a larger stage," Gray told CBR News. "Then came 'Civil War.'"

"We were hoping to do more 'Daughters,''" Palmiotti said, "But 'Heroes for Hire' seemed like the next natural way to go."

The natural way for Misty Knight and Colleen Wing to deal with the chaos of Civil War was to enlist more help in tracking down and busting supervillains. The team the duo assembles includes: Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu; The Black Cat; Paladin; an all new female Tarantula; and former Spider-Man foe Humbug. "New readers will be introduced to them in the first issue, but there isn't a recruitment drive," Gray explained. "They exist as a newly formed team and that allows us to jump right into the action."

Whether the team is in the thick of the action or experiencing a quiet moment in their offices, there is no question who the boss of the group is. "Misty is the boss and Colleen is her right hand woman," Gray stated. "They call the shots from top to bottom and anyone that doesn't like it can get the hell off the team."

As readers of "Heroes for Hire" #1 will see, not everyone on the newly formed team trusts each other. "There are some former villains on the team and that always makes for an uneasy alliance, but the friendship between Misty and Colleen is bulletproof," Gray stated. "Everyone else has to prove themselves with the exception of Shang Chi, who is also a long time friend."

One member of the team who is lacking in the friends department is Humbug, a former villain who was more of an annoyance than an actual threat to Spider-Man and was last seen being fed to hungry fire ants by the mercenary, Deadpool. "No one gives Humbug the proper props," Palmiotti said. "But that will change."

One team member that readers might not be sure what to think of is the new Tarantula, who has very definite feelings about the underlying ideological schism of the Superhero Registration Act that is central to "Civil War." "Tarantula is an enigmatic figure, one you're not sure about from the beginning," Gray explained. "She has very specific reasons for wanting to get the registration act passed and most especially to see costumed villains shut down for good."

Some of Tarantula's team members share her feelings on the registration act, but that doesn't mean they have chosen a side in "Civil War." "Most team members agree with the registration, but they draw the line at hunting heroes," Gray said. "As always, villains are fair game.

"The first three issues place 'Heroes for Hire' squarely in the middle of Iron Man and Captain America's arguments," Gray continued. "Tony Stark asks for Misty and Colleen's help in tracking down fugitives and in realizing the scope of that task they hire a team. It is all very logical given the 'Civil War' landscape. It's only when you start involving friends and people start dying that lines are drawn and crossed."

Gray confirmed that Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, and Reed Richards will make appearances in the opening arc of "Heroes for Hire," but it won't be just warring heroes that play a role in the opening story. "I think there are at least fifteen villains in the first issue," Gray explained. "We love the obscure characters, the losers and failed concepts. With 'Civil War' taking place, it is kind of like turning on a light switch and seeing roaches scatter through the kitchen, the real low level scummy villains are breaking from the shadows and trying to get out of the country."

The Heroes for Hire's involvement in "Civil War" ends in issue three, but subsequent issues will explore the fall out from both "Civil War" and the opening story arc. "There are plot lines that carry over," Gray explained. "The black market Skrull Organs that villains turn to as a way to escape the registration act have to be resolved by issue five."

The Heroes for Hire might receive occasional assistance from a colorful cast of supporting characters. Gray confirmed that Otis, the indestructible male secretary who appeared in "Daughters of the Dragon" will be a part of the supporting cast of "Heroes for Hire" as well.

The cast of "Heroes for Hire" are employees of Knightwing Restorations. "Knightwing Restorations handles bail bonds for super villains and the government pays them through that company," Gray said.

"Misty and colleen own the company, but I am sure it's incorporated for tax reasons," Palmiotti explained.

As the stories in "Heroes for Hire" progress, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing will stick around, but there will be some new faces among the staff at Knightwing Restorations, both on a temporary and an ongoing basis, and some of the staff will no longer be with the company. "Anyone looking for a job or extra cash is welcome to join in on a mission," Gray stated. "That includes reformed villains so you'll see a rotating cast of different characters whenever they are available."

"There are a lot of changes in store as the story progresses," Palmiotti said. "This is a book that can literally change its cast at any time, which makes it more exciting for me personally, because you never can tell what's happening next."

Palmiotti and Gray advise readers looking for an unpredictable book, featuring large doses of action and the occasional helping of hilarity to pick up "Heroes for Hire." "It's what we presented in 'Daughters of the Dragon,' but with a much wider cast and a bigger storyline," Palmiotti explained.

"The first three issues deal directly with 'MCW,' which means there's a certain level of seriousness involved," Gray stated. "The same kind of dramatic character building tone rolls on through four and five and then we'll be looking at fun, pulp exploitation comix with a humorous slant."

Palmiotti and Gray are having a blast in "Heroes for Hire" expanding on the seedy, underbelly of the Marvel Universe that they began to develop in "Daughters of the Dragon" and enjoy playing with the lower level characters, both villains and heroes, that populate it. "The idea behind 'Daughters of the Dragon' was that Misty and Colleen know just about every villain or hero in the Marvel Universe," Gray explained. "They've busted or provided bail for all the low level criminals. As a result they've formed strange relationships with people on both sides of the law. The thing about 'Heroes for Hire' is that these are not the Marvel stars; in fact most of them don't have super powers. That's what makes it interesting; somewhat normal people willing to go out and do battle with super powered lunatics as more of a choice than a responsibility. These are incredibly brave and unique people who are interested in helping ordinary New Yorkers."

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