The concept of being a hero for hire was first taken advantage of by Luke Cage, who was looking for a way to pay his bills as a fugitive. After being exonerated of his original crimes, he joined forces with Iron Fist. First, they joined Nightwing Resotrations as enforcers. Soon after though, they would strike out as their own two-man team, Heroes For Hire. With the help of their attorney, Jeryn Hogarth, and office manager, Jennie Royce, Cage and Danny turned it into a successful business.
The Heroes for Hire were created by Ed Hannigan and Keith Pollard in Power Man and Iron Fist.
After Iron Fist's series was cancelled due to low sales, he was transferred to Power Man as a supporting character. Together, they took Luke Cage's off-the-grid hero-for-hire gimmick and made it into the legitimate business, Heroes For Hire. They took on a number of cases until Iron Fist's apparent death.
Later, in the wake of the defeat and perceived death of the Avengers and Fantastic Four by Onslaught, Iron Fist brings the team back with help from Jim Hammond and his resources at Oracle, Inc. Although Luke Cage originally turned down membership, he eventually joined when the team lost Hercules as their powerhouse. Other members include: Black Knight, White Tiger, Thena, She-Hulk, and Ant-Man (Scott Lang). The team quit over a change in management at Oracle, Inc.
The Heroes for Hire moniker wouldn't be used for awhile until Misty Knight took ownership of it. She first used it as part of The Initiative. That line up included Colleen Wing, Shang Chi, Orka, Humbug, Tarantula (Maria Vasquez), Black Cat, and Paladin. When that team dissolved, Misty Knight rebranded herself as "Control" and would hire heroes and villains as needed, although, this caused her to get burnt out and eventually fold the team yet again.
It was briefly used by Deadpool until he was served with a cease and desist from Luke Cage, thus changing his team's name to Mercs for Money.
Eventually, the Heroes for Hire brand would come back around to Luke Cage and Iron Fist after they completed multiple tenures on other teams, including leadership roles on both Avengers and Thunderbolts for Luke Cage.
Major Story Arcs
The Heroes for Hire took on a number of cases, but they ran into the most trouble with Master Khan, the archenemy of Iron Fist. He was trying to collect the Amulets of Power to reassemble the Jade Tiger. This caused him to cross paths with Bob Diamond, friend of the Heroes, who was beaten nearly to death for his amulet. Trying to bring justice to Diamond, they chase Khan to K’un-Lun, where they team with Lei-Kung to stop Khan from taking over K’un-Lun
Vengeful, Khan would put into motion a plan that would effectively end Heroes for Hire. First, he convinced Super-Skrull to pose as Captain Hero, yet another friend of the duo. As Captain Hero, he would earn their trust and almost convince himself that he was really Captain Hero. Then, when Danny got radiation poisoning and was brought to K’un-Lun for treatment, Khan had him kidnapped and replaced with a H'ylthri doppelganger.
Khan had the doppelganger beaten to death by Super-Skrull, a murder which Luke Cage was ultimately accused of. Vowing never to return to prison, Cage went on the run rather than face the courts.
Thus, Heroes for Hire was disbanded.
After Danny was saved from his captors by Misty Knight and Namor, he worked out a plan to revitalize Heroes for Hire with Jim Hammond and his resources at Oracle,Inc. Now was the time since the Avengers and Fantastic Four were seemingly killed by Onslaught. Danny quickly put a team together consisting of White Tiger, Black Knight, and Hercules, however, the roster would continue to fluctuate.
Of the many heroes Iron Fist offered membership to, his old partner, Luke Cage, was the first. He originally turned Iron Fist down, feeling his heart wasn’t in the hero gig anymore. The Master of the World tried to convince Luke to reconsider and join as his spy on this Heroes for Hire team. The Master believed he could save the world by reducing the population by 70% and saw Danny’s team as his major obstacle to success. Cage curiously humored the villain and ultimately agreed to be his spy, so that he could actually protect his good buddy, betraying The Master when the time was right.
Siege of Wundagore
H4H member, White Tiger, was called back to her brethren, The New Men. High Evolutionary had been forcibly evicted from Wundagore Mountain by Exodus. The New Men were to lay siege on Wundagore to reinstate the High Evolutionary. White Tiger suggested that her new allies would be of use. Unfortunately, when New Men rivalries caused White Tiger to be attacked, H4H jumped to her defense and were turned into unstable apes by the High Evolutionary’s Isotope E for their trouble.
Quicksilver, who had been working with the New Men, showed up in time to race White Tiger to Oracle, Inc and have her wounds tended to. By the time he had returned to the team’s side, they temporarily evolved back to themselves. He convinced them to join him in defending Wundagore from both teams and stopping the High Evolutionary’s Isotope E from falling into Exodus’ hands.
By the time they made it to Wundagore, Exodus had already bested the Evolutionary, and H4H were now forced to confront the combined power of the Acolytes and The New Men. Quicksilver stole the isotope, curing the H4H and upgrading himself to reach even greater speeds. With his new power upgrade, Quicksilver defeats Exodus and tries taking leadership of the Acolytes, and, with the isotope, stabilizes Evolutionary back into a mortal man.
With guilt over his actions, The High Evolutionary used the isotope on White Tiger, reverting her to her animal form and releasing her into the wild.
Soon after, the Oracle Inc was merged with Stark-Fujikawa. They fired Cage and Ant-Man for being ex-cons, and the rest of the team quit in protest.
After the passing of the Superhero Registration Act, Misty Knight brought the Heroes for Hire back as a government subsidized team. She was approached by Iron Man to pivot her bounty hunting and bail bonds business into a marshal service for anti-registration superhumans, including Captain America.
However, they were side-tracked by a black market organ operation, run by The Corporation. They sought to augment superhumans with shapeshifting abilities by grafting them with Skrull anatomy. The Corporation blew up the H4H office and sent professional hitmen after individual members of the team. Using Humbug’s insects, they track and raid The Corporation’s headquarters before they could attack again. After successfully shutting them down, Stark paid for a new office and allowed them to return to their “for hire” duties.
World War Hulk
While on a mission in the Savage Land, Hulk returned to Earth with a team of aliens, called the Warbound. He demanded to see the members of the Illuminati that exiled him off Earth or else he would destroy New York. After being nursed back to health by Savage Land insects, Humbug was granted new abilities and could sense the danger. The insect-like members of The Warbound had their own plans to takeover the world beyond Hulk's plans.
Humbug covered the team in the remains of one of the hiveling drones so that they could sneak on to the enemy ship undetected. However, the ruse did not work on the leader of the hivelings, Miek. He calls in reinforcements from the Warbound to fight the H4H. Using the fight as a diversion, Humbug went after the Queen Brood only to be overwhelmed by his new insect instincts, kneeling before the Brood. He betrayed his team and blamed his murder of a hiveling on Tarantula and Colleen Wing. The rest were allowed to leave.
The freed H4H didn’t stay away though. They re-grouped and commandeered a SHIELD tank. They drove back to the site of the Brood’s birth to save their teammates and put a stop to the this new alien hive. After freeing Colleen and Tarantula, they find what is left of Humbug.
The Savage Land bugs had tricked Humbug into becoming the Brood’s incubator. The upgrades they made to his body have been killing the larvae as well as Humbug himself. Meanwhile his armor sterilized the Queen, ensuring she’ll never be able to breed again. Shang-Chi showed him mercy through a quick death.
The trauma of this incident was the final straw, and Misty was abandoned by her teammates.
Banded together during Shadowland: Misty Knight, Paladin, Shroud and Silver Sable formed the basis of what would come to be the new Heroes for Hire. The team's only constant members are Misty Knight and Paladin with the roster alternating depending on who is available. However, Moon Knight, Elektra, Shroud, Silver Sable and Black Cat have all proven to be mainstays to the new team since its inception.
Outside of the traditional line-up, the team has also contracted former Avengers such as the Black Panther, Falcon, Black Widow and Stingray and darker supernatural heroes and vigilantes such as Ghost Rider, Daimon Hellstrom and Satana.
The team's function - to help those in need... when they can afford it.
Throughout the team's history, Misty Knight went through stressful developments from being manipulated by both the Puppet Master and Purple Man and suffering a "phantom pregnancy" caused by Iron Fist's chi abilities. The stress put upon her was reflected in her attempts to contract some questionable "heroes" - most notably an attempt to recruit the Punisher for Heroes for Hire.
Not long after the Spider-Island epidemic, Misty Knight and Paladin went on separate ways as Misty began filling the roster for a new Heroes for Hire team with mostly super-villains such as Tiger Shark, Bombshell, Nightshade and Crossfire in a bid to destroy Purple Man's growing criminal empire. When Paladin showed concern for Misty, she shot him in cold blood and not long after Misty suffered for her mistake when most of her new "Heroes for Hire" defected to Purple Man's gang. Those who didn't were shot and left for dead.
The Boys Are Back
Danny and his buddy Luke get in over their head when they do a favor for their mutual friend, Jennie Royce, upon her release from prison. She tells them that Tombstone came into possession of her grandmother’s heirloom necklace, and she wants them to get it back. It is actually the magical Supersoul Stone, and Tombstone won it fair and square. So, he sics all the neighborhood goons on them.
To get Tombstone off their case, they need to hunt down Jennie, who took the stone and ran. She teamed up with Black Mariah and was getting corrupted by the stone. Now, Jennie is targeting Tombstone, and Tombstone would rather hire Danny and Luke for protection rather than kill them.
Based on the know-how of Senor Magico, Danny and Luke needed to do more than fight demonic Jennie. They needed to reach her on an emotional level, which they accomplish with the help of her new friend Black Mariah
In the midst of the Avengers’ second civil war over a new precognitive inhuman, Ulysses, Danny and Luke get hired by some retired ex-cons they used to tangle with because they were being hunted by a gang called Preemptive Strike. That gang followed the ex-cons to Danny’s place where a fight broke out. When the cops showed up, Danny was arrested with half of the ex-cons, while Luke got away with the other half.
Desperate, Luke decided to stage a jailbreak, but Ulysses saw the whole thing. When he reported it to Captain Marvel, she decided her team was going to stop them. Danvers’ Avengers confronted Luke Cage and his makeshift team outside of Rykers’ eventually spilling into the prison causing the breakout. Danny was able to get in on the fight, but cooler heads eventually prevail. Danny and Luke walk away but not without giving Carol an earful about her preemptive actions.
The New Pride
It turned out Preemptive Strike was using a supernatural software that could use facial recognition to create criminal records for innocent people. Danny with Luke makes it their top priority, but Alex Wilder, back from Hell, steals the tablet with the software before they can do anything about it.
Alex is using it to create a new criminal network, the New Pride, by manipulating people with trumped up charges he creates. Jennie gets roped into his demonic drug that causes possession but hires Danny and Luke to help her when she gets cold feet. They find themselves in the middle of a gang war between The New Pride and former members of the Fang Gang.
Ultimately, the demon they were deriving the drug from attacks Alex, freeing everyone from his manipulation. Discouraged, Danny thinks about quitting until all the ex-cons they helped show up to pitch in cleaning up the neighborhood
In Other Media
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
Luke Cage and Iron Fist appear as partners in five episodes of the animated series, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. In their first appearance, they are hired by Hank Pym to investigate the theft of the Ant-Man suit by Scott Lang
Later, they are included on a list of emergency replacement Avengers when Kang traps the usual team members in a temporal void. They team up with War Machine, The Thing, Wolverine, and Spider-Man as the "New Avengers."
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
A new Heroes For Hire line-up appears in Iron Fist's ending in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Beyond mainstays such as Misty Knight, Colleen Wing and Luke Cage, the Capcom video game characters Ryu, Chun-Li and Batsu Ichimonji were included as well.