is a comic series published by Marvel Comics
in the late '90s
. It all began when Norman Osborn and the Trapster framed Spider-Man
for the murder of "Joey Z", a small-time thug, who suffocated to death when his lungs were filled with web fluid identical to Spider-Man's. Unable to use his Spider-Man identity now that the cops considered him a murderer,note
Spider-Man created four new identities so he could continue to fight crime while clearing Spidey's name.
Two of the identities he created—The Hornet, created using his friend Hobie Brown's jet pack, and Prodigy, an old-fashioned "good guy"
—were heroes, while the other two—Ricochet, a fast-talking criminal for hire, and Dusk, using a costume he'd obtained in the Negative Zone—were villains, getting him closer to the the criminal underworld than ever before
. Eventually, he was able to clear his name and, having no further use for them, discarded the four identities.
Then, in December of 1998, Marvel decided to capitalize on these discarded identities by assigning them to four new characters. The costumes were picked up by a Golden Age
superhero named The Black Marvel, who gave them to four teenagers to train them to be superheroes. These kids were;
- Ritchie Gilmore, aka Prodigy, the group's leader, a cold, stubborn loner who attends Empire State University as a wrestler. His costume is mystically infused with power, giving him superstrength and the ability to fly.note
- Eddie McDonough, aka Hornet, is also an ESU student whose right arm is withered due to cerebral palsy. However, when using the Hornet suit, he has the power of flight and blasters with a sedative, and his strength is increased to superhuman levels, allowing him to use his crippled arm.
- Johnny Gallo, aka Ricochet, is a mutant whose mother was killed when he was a child, and who has an estranged relationship with his father. His powers are similar to Spider-Man's, including superhuman leaping and agility, and even a Spider-Sense-like ability
- And Cassie St. Commons, aka Dusk, is the Goth daughter of a pair of rich socialites from Connecticut with many unexplained (at least within the series) superpowers, including teleportation and shadow manipulation. She dies before the first issue. She gets better.
The series only lasted twelve issues due to lack of interest, and is generally regarded as a poorly executed good idea
. The characters remain as C-listers in the Marvel Universe, with Dusk appearing as a prisoner of the Puppet Master in a Ms. Marvel
comic, Hornet getting killed by a brainwashed Wolverine, Ricochet joining a "teenage superhero recovery group", and Prodigy actually having an impact on the events of Marvel's Civil War
. Compare Runaways
Provides examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The second issue takes place largely inside one.
- Bash Brothers: Ricochet and Hornet, remaining good friends and even becoming a Dynamic Duo in later years.
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: The series was published right up against the end of this.
- Disability Superpower: Eddie, whose right arm is crippled due to cerebral palsy.
- Flying Brick: Prodigy, almost. He can jump such long distances that it looks like he's flying.
- Genius Cripple: Eddie, one of the smartest kids in school, has cerebral palsy.
- Jerk Ass: Prodigy often comes off as this, not so much as flinching at Cassie's death and telling his teammates to get over it.
- Jerk Jock: Prodigy is also a wrestler for ESU.
- Missing Mom: Ricochet's mother died when he was little, killed by the Orphan-Maker.
- Mutants: Ricochet's powers are attributed to a mutant gene; oddly enough, he never had much of a relationship with the Marvel U's resident mutants, the X-Men.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Ricochet, at his best.
- Sacrificial Lamb: On their first outing together, Dusk falls to her death.
- Swarm of Rats: The residents of the sewer in the second issue.
- Those Two Guys: Hornet and Ricochet work as this.