Thursday, December 06, 2007

Heroes for Hire, RIP

If Marvel ever officially announced that they were cancelling Heroes for Hire, I missed it (which is entirely possible). Since they're not soliciting for new issues though, that sort of has to be what's going on. And HfH #15 certainly feels like a last issue. If it was, it was a doozy.

I've been reading HfH because of Shang Chi. I've never been a big fan of the "heroes for hire" concept, whether it's one of Marvel's versions or The Power Company (though The Power Company did a lot to make it more palatable by making the business more like a professional security firm than just a group of mercenaries), but the Master of Kung Fu will get me to check out any comic. And I'm glad he led me to this one.

The series explored the concept of paid superheroes in an interesting way. The group's leaders Misty Knight and Colleen Wing tended to take morally questionable jobs (like tracking down Superhero Registration dodgers and kidnapping innocent Monkey Boys) and then try to rationalize them. They'd occasionally work alongside Paladin who's a totally immoral mercenary and sort of made them look better by comparison, but when you pulled back and looked hard at the team, they weren't exactly good guys. Even if they did take the required case from the little kid with no money. They had good hearts -- at least Misty, Colleen, and Shang did, and Humbug at first -- but they almost always let money get in the way of what they knew was right.

And that was pretty much the point of the series. Readers weren't asked to just mindlessly root for the team because they were the "heroes" of the book. It was very covertly done, but I think we were supposed to be asking questions about the decisions these guys were making and the cases they took.

And the really interesting thing to me is that in spite of the moral ambiguity of the characters, Heroes for Hire wasn't a dark, depressing book. It wasn't an example of the recent darkening of superhero comics, because you always knew that one day Misty and Colleen would likely realize what they were doing wrong. There was always this element of hope to the series that, ironically, is missing in a lot of traditionally lighter superhero books these days.

The bittersweet thing is that the "heroes" finally figured it out in the last issue. It's sweet because they finally realized what they needed to change. It's bitter because it's too late. It's too late for them to help some people in the story who really needed helping. And it's too late for us as readers because now the story's apparently done and we don't get to see them redeem themselves. But man is it powerful.

I'm glad I stuck with the series and I'm sorry it's done.


West said...

Now, I wanna know how it "ends." Darn you.

Michael May said...

Heh heh heh. :D


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