Thanks to an upcoming seekrit project (Spoilers: Ten Things), I’ve spent my weekend delving into the heroes of Robert Kirkman’s Invincible extended universe.  One of his more underrated books is ‘Capes‘, which takes the Hero For Hire archetype and combines it with workplace comedy to transcend the superhero genre in some very interesting ways.  (It also features one of the worst female characters in history, but that’s more of a ’90’s problem that occasionally recurs across the comics industry.)  It also reminds me of an old argument that a friend and I used to have about Luke Cage, leading to today’s for-profit query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) appreciates the need to explain where these characters get their money, but the vague handwave of “Avengers stipend” achieves the same effect, asking: In your opinion, does the concept of a hero for hire negate heroic intent?


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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Daniel Langsdale on

    If hard-boiled and/or consulting detective characters like Sam Spade, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercule Poirot can be considered heroes despite working for hire, then so can super-powered characters like Luke Cage. The “for hire” is a McGuffin for pulling the protagonist into a plot, and it’s what they do once entangled that can define them as heroic.

  2. i generally say no it doesn’t. there’s a reason why Luke Cage, Capt. Mal, Han Solo, etc. are always barely scraping by. being a mercenary (unless you’re writing a character from an explicitly amoral/antihero angle) generally lets the character have a change of heart and do the right thing anyway, usually returning the money back to the people who commissioned them. it also gives the hero a chance to be a dick to more sinister characters who might hire them to do an unsavory job that ends up hurting innocents.

  3. Jarmo Seppänen on

    It depends on where that motivation is coming from. If its to just provide a decent living for one and their family or to help their community for example, its just as heroic as anyone. If its pure greed or make a quick fortune, then its coming from a wrong place. It’s not like someone like Stark or Wayne needs anything, so money wouldn’t be even a thing. Only those who always had lots of money can afford to not think about it.

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