Webcomic / Antihero for Hire
A webcomic by the creator
that takes utter joy in subverting practically every trope it gets its hands on. It is set in Triumph City
2144, and populated by an absurd number of superheroes. The titular antihero is Shadehawk, a Badass Longcoat
-wearing superhero, who has a long and angsty Back Story
involving one of the strip's MacGuffins
, the Silver Arrow. He's assisted by Wrench, the Lord God hacker in this Cyber Punk
future, and Crossroad, a fellow superhero(ine) with whom he has an unofficial alliance and a lot of UST
Can be found here.
The site has changed, rendering the below links out of date.
- Action Girl: Crossroad.
- The Vengeful Sisters also fit this trope, though some are more "actiony" than others.
- Affably Evil: Almost all of the villains are to some degree, with a few exceptions like M.A.N.T.I.S. Agents.
- The Alcatraz: OCF-1, aka "The Afterlife", aka "The Rock" since "every escape-proof prison gets called 'The Rock.'" Shadehawk comes up with an escape plan and implements it almost immediately after arriving.
- All There in the Manual: The data files page, which describe how some of the phlebotinum works and provide setting details (see below).
- An Ice Person:
King of Ice Froster The Cubinator Icicle Man Coldular The Sub-Zero Righteousness of the Frozen North.
- Anti-Hero: While the titular antihero is Shadehawk, in some ways Crossroad better fits the term.
- Arch-Enemy: Hector.
- As You Know: Lampshaded here.
- Backstory: Shadehawk's backstory is appropriately angst-ridden and a key plot point. We don't know all of it, but one important bit is that technically he's considered dead (right up to having a tombstone). Meanwhile, the setting's backstory is that Canada annexed the adjoining states of the US, using genetically engineered dinosaurs, which worked partially because no one minded, and partially because "the US was so busy protecting themselves against Weapons of Mass Destruction that they never made anything to protect against dinosaur attacks".
- Badass Longcoat: Lampshaded.
- Badass Normal: "Superhero" (and villain) is tossed around a lot, but actually quite a few of the characters who identify as such are Badass Normals, including Shadehawk himself, Crossroad, and Jack.
- Played with when Gatemaster tries to attack Shadehawk with his bare hands, but even with his teleporting technology, finds himself overpowered fairly easily because he's a "failure grad student with zero muscle tone".
- Bad Santa: Stupidly large numbers of them in the second Christmas special. Crossroad is not amused.
- Batman Gambit: Domarelli pulls one off. Knowing that Crossroad always tries to foil his plans, he hires the extralegal Vengeful Sisters to deliver supplies to an orphanage, which for all appearances is a front for drug smuggling with the sisters as unwitting patsies — but the delivery is real and the result is that Crossroad is distracted from his real objective, with the bonus of damaging her reputation.
- BFG: Shadehawk has one.
- BFS: One of the Mantis agents had one. Crossroad's sword is a little more normal-sized.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Subverted. Dr. Nefarious is so depressed that his plan didn't even require heroic intervention to foil that he decides to just shoot Shadehawk instead of using a Death Trap, as usual.
- Boobs of Steel: Crossroad's, early on.
- Brick Joke: Hey, what was Shadehawk doing before he got the bright idea to break in to TeraCorp? Oh, right...
- Buffy Speak: Used here.
Shadehawk: Wait. The Doc's here about a wormhole thingy or whatever, right?
Doctor Patrick/Gatemaster: Yes.
Shadehawk: But you [Gatemaster] use a transportery thing that takes you apart in one place and puts you together somewhere else, correct?
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Lampshaded - "It seems you can't hire someone competent without them having an embarrassing hobby."
- Cardboard Prison: Shadehawk doesn't mind this trope. After all, if the criminal he was paid to put away breaks out, then he can get another paycheck by thwarting the criminal's next scheme.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Practically every fight.
- Cerebus Syndrome: An odd case, as the syndrome started before the strip officially began. The original plan was for the strip to be comedic in the same line as Shallow's other comic, Adventurers!. Shadehawk was something of an expy of Karn, and the first preview strip featured him falling off a roof.
- Chekhov's Gun: Angelson's ring.
- The Chessmaster: Wizard, Hector.
- Christmas Episode: "A Jollybot Carol".
- Clothes Make the Superman: Power suits account for a lot of the threat posed by some characters, particularly the likes of Gatemaster.
- The Comically Serious: Crossroad tends to take things much more seriously than Dechs, making dropping her into particularly insane situations that much funnier.
- Cool Shades: Shadehawk wears them specifically because they look cool, though Wrench has made it so they amplify light, and has limited radar.
- Don't forget the flash-beams!
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Hector, as well as most of Tera Corp's execs (Charles is an exception).
- The Cracker: Neon.
- Crazy-Prepared: Jack. Slightly lampshaded.
- Cult: A cult of machines.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Rose Kirkins is a bit of this.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Lampshaded
- Cyber Punk: The setting is classic Cyber Punk with a twist.
- Dark Action Girl: Malvagia, possibly Airmistress. The Vengeful Sisters fall somewhere in between this and regular Action Girl.
- Deadpan Snarker: If it talks, it snarks. No exceptions.
- Description Cut: A few times. Example here.
- Determinator: M.A.N.T.I.S. Agents.
- Didn't See That Coming: Hector v. Wizard, in what is almost certainly foreshadowing.
- Double Entendre: Airmistress loves these, probably unintentionally. Example: "I'm gonna blow you so hard!", "He once did me in a men's bathroom!".
- Dragon with an Agenda: Angelson, who is manipulating Hector at the behest of a nebulous evil agenda of which he's a member.
- Dramatic Wind: Wizard. He openly admits in one of the earlier strips that he does it on purpose.
Wizard: See how my coat blows in the wind?
Shadehawk: Yes, and?
Wizard: Yet, there is no wind. Now, isn't that odd?
- Dressing as the Enemy: Shadehawk dresses up as a M.A.N.T.I.S. It doesn't fool the minion, but it does give Shady a chance to detonate an explosive.
- Later, he dresses up as the Crimson Boomerang, only to be detected by Wizard.
- He tries it again and is found out within minutes.
- Elite Mooks: Although M.A.N.T.I.S. agents are already pretty dangerous on their own, however if one fails to complete their mission, they have the option to undergo genetic engineering so that they can do it right the next time. Explained here.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Dr. Albert Charious Airious Nefarious-Smith
- Embarrassing Rescue: Crossroad rescuing Shadehawk from a severe state of James Bondage.
- Enemy Mine: Has happened with Neon and Coldular (or Frozen North or whatever he's calling himself this week) both. They were both somewhat surprisingly amiable about it. Neon even seemed on the verge of a Heel–Face Turn.
- Considering who he's working with now, maybe Shadehawk should have given some thought to accepting his help and not thrown him back in jail on an unrelated charge.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Occurs throughout the coffee arc, reaching ridiculous extremes in this strip.
- Face Doodling: "if she wanted to have a say on people writing on her face she wouldn't be still asleep at 2 PM."
- Flaw Exploitation: Subverted, then immediately Double Subverted.
- Five-Man Band / 5 Bad Band: The Vengeful Sisters fit the 5 Band dynamic, although since they're more like Tweeners than anything else, it's hard to say whether they're good or bad...
- Flat "What.": , 
- Four-Star Badass: General Lumberdon provides the page quote.
- Freudian Excuse: The Vengeful Sisters.
- Mocked. "Can you skip to the part that explains why you're robbing a jewelry store?"
- Friendly Enemy: Okay, but Enemy Mine or no Enemy Mine, Shadehawk and "Frozen North" have been downright chatty lately.
- Also Hector and Wizard, two villains who are only interested in their own goals. And also meet to play chess once a month.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Wrench.
- Genius Ditz: Rose (the green haired girl working for TeraCorp) may be ditzy enough to wear a fake earpiece to look more officious, but when it comes to computer ability she's good enough to prevent Wrench from hacking TeraCorp's computer system.
- Go Through Me: Frozen North, of all people.
- The Gunslinger: Shadehawk.
- Hand Cannon: Silver Arrow, the data page even uses those words to describe it.
- Heel–Face Turn: The Vengeful Sisters.
- Highly Visible Ninja: Crossroad, lampshaded.
- Hired Guns
- I Did What I Had to Do: Hector.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Subverted with Crossroad. Averted with Shadehawk who doesn't kill simply because live criminals bring in more money.
- Also, live criminals often escape and come up with new schemes, so you can get more money when you thwart them again.
- I Know Mortal Kombat
- Implacable Man: Golem and Simile.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: About half the Card Carrying Villains.
- Indy Ploy: Shadehawk lives off this, and he is very, very good at it... most of the time.
- Insane Troll Logic: Even Shadehawk, far from the most tech-savvy guy, can tell that Gatemaster's teleportation technology is not the same as the wormhole tech Gatemaster is claiming was stolen from him.
- Insulted Awake: Sort of, a water pistol is used.
- A more traditional example happens with Crossroad.
- James Bondage: Lampshaded.
- The Juggernaut: Simile
- Kidnapped Scientist: Poor Charles...
- Kill Sat: Hacked, of course.
- Kill You Last: Wizard, to Charles. Although he still ripped his eyeballs out there and then as a part of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge for all those weeks of Cold-Blooded Torture.
- Large Ham: Shadehawk has a definite melodramatic streak: hence the Badass Longcoat, Sunglasses at Night, and love for dramatic entrances, once even involving a dry ice machine.
- Little Miss Badass: Malvagia.
- The Mad Hatter: Wizard.
Hector: You think I would actually tell you that? Are you insane?
Hector: Right. I almost forgot.
- Mad Scientist: Gatemaster.
- Mafia Princess: Crossroad, unhappily.
- Making a Splash: Waterfall.
- Manipulative Bastard: Hector and Angelson. Lampshaded by Hector himself.
- Mission Control: Wrench.
- Multiple-Choice Past: "Coldular" had fun with this when he was first introduced Here, here, and here.
- The Munchausen: Frozen North becomes this henever he tries to expalin hi origins.
- Baron Orange is a more straight exmple of this.
- Must Have Caffeine: The subject of an entire arc when Shadehawk had to get up in the daytime.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Jack.
- Noodle Incident: Several of Shadehawk's adventures, including stopping a gerbil from stealing a diamond.
- Also an incident with a cruiser his organisation doesn't know about.
- While running to avoid being crushed by a rolling giant coin, his reaction is "Not again!"
- No OSHA Compliance: Subverted.
- Not a Morning Person: Shadehawk really needs his coffee if he's to get up in the morning.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Could Dr. Nefarious be... competent?
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Lampshaded.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Wizard to Dechs, Dechs to Hector.
- Orgasmic Combat: Subverted as it turns out to be exactly what it sounds like.
- Painting the Medium: Panel border colors have changed hue based on the character focused on.
- Playful Hacker: Wrench.
- Psycho Prototype: Wizard.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The "Vengeful Sisters".
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Wizard.
- Rule of Cool: Chainsaw dinosaur jousting.
- Schedule Slip: Not too many when the comic first started, but there are frequent lapses now due to the author's personal life.
- Sequelitis: Invoked; when facing a character who narrates everything in the third person, Shadehawk comes up with a plan to "sequel her so hard her cousin will be assassinated by critics".
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: "Ugh, You're such a depraved monster. (beat) Insinuating that she's my girlfriend, I mean."
- Show Within a Show: Played straight with "Mechazor L", but inverted with Adventurers!
- Sophisticated as Hell:
"Elementary, my dear Jeckyll. We are going to rip his fucking
- Spanner in the Works: Practically in Shadehawk's job description.
- Stick 'em Up: It's a little less funny when you learn the guy got fired over it.
- Strapped to an Operating Table
- Sunglasses at Night: Shadehawk's light-amplifying shades.
- Super Dickery: Nicely parodied here.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Waterfall is by far the most powerful of the Vengeful Sisters, but the more power she uses the more likely she is to snap and start acting like Wizard.
- Super Registration Act: Joining up with SHAB gets you a steady paycheck based on commissions (a.k.a. how many criminals you catch and what their crimes are.) and is strictly optional. In fact, Crossroad was rejected.
- Super Soldier: MANTIS Agents, in fact the whole point of this mini-story seems to be to show how skilled and badass they are.
- Swordfight: Anytime Crossroad is involved this is likely to happen.
- Techno Babble
- Tempting Fate: Occurs on plenty of different occasions. There is also a subversion:
"I'm bored. (pause) It seems like a quiet night. (pause) I said, it seems like a quiet night. (nothing happens) Well damn, that usually works."
- Third-Person Person: Lampshaded.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: The superheroes are strongly encouraged not to kill, mostly by paying less for kills than for live capture. But they understand that these things happen, and so they do offer an "Executioner's Fee", as long as he doesn't do it too often.
- Troperrific: Dr. Nefarious. I mean, just look at that name.
- Troubling Unchildhood Behavior: Malvagia. Pretty much everything she's done so far is troubling in one way or another. And she's well aware of how it can unsettle her adversaries, too.
- Unknown Rival: Corporal Rocket can't remember who Shadehawk is, despite having met him — and run off with his perp — in the past. Although he's rather idiotic and Shadehawk doesn't seem to care too much about him, personally, he's just annoyed that people admire the guy.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Shadehawk has a new superhero uniform for each passing month. Sort of defeats the purpose of a uniform, doesn't it?
- UST: Crossroad and Shadehawk. Possible subversion, given the attitude of the comic, and that the characters personalities do NOT mesh well, particularly in Phase 5. Its implied that the same exists for their respective hacker sidekicks, and may not be unresolved at all.
- Update: It's official, Wrench and Echo are definitely an item.
- Verbal Tic: This guy.
- Viewer-Friendly Interface: Mocked.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: In the first arc with Nefarious, Shadehawk very casually kills one of Nefarious's henchmen (Alphonse), but specifically asks Crossroad not to kill Nefarious himself. However, this had less to do with Moral Dissonance on Shadehawk's part than rather cold-blooded economics — Nefarious is an easy source of income. His henchmen aren't worth much, and tend to be more dangerous besides.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Wizard (though he apparently wasn't exactly sane before he got his powers) and, temporarily, Waterfall.
- Worthy Opponent: Jack. "There but for the grace of God and about twenty-five years go I."
- "You!" Exclamation: Interrupts Shadehawk's dramatic speech.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Dragon and Crossroad. Partway through the fight they decide to stop with the fight-like-a-cow insults and acknowledge each other's skill.
- You Have Failed Me: Double-subverted repeatedly. Ironically, the one time it's merely subverted is at the end of an arc about henchmen unionizing over bad working conditions.
- You Killed My Father: Part of Shadehawk's vendetta against Hector.