Antihero for Hire is a webcomic by the creator of Adventurers! 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 Cyberpunk future, and Crossroad, a fellow superhero(ine) with whom he has an unofficial alliance and a lot of UST.
The comic resumed updating in June 2020 following a 3¾ year Series Hiatus.
Please note: The website has changed, the links below now link to the individual "issues" instead of specific pages.
- 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).
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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: Yes.Shadehawk: But you [Gatemaster] use a transportery thing that takes you apart in one place and puts you together somewhere else, correct?Gatemaster:That's a bit of a dumb way of putting it, but yes.
- Butch Lesbian: Aftershock has a boyish haircut, dresses in a man's suit in a Christmas joke episode, and has an unrequited crush on Dragon.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Later, he dresses up as the Crimson Boomerang, only to be detected by Wizard.
- 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
- Not to mention "Baron Orange Earthsmantle von Potatoflight"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Little Miss Badass: Malvagia is the 14 year old niece of mob boss Domarelli and a talented fighter and assassin. She's one of very few villains who tangled with Shadehawk and came out ahead.
- The Mad Hatter: Wizard.Hector: You think I would actually tell you that? Are you insane?
Hector: Right. I almost forgot.
- Noodle Incident: Several of Shadehawk's adventures, including stopping a gerbil from stealing a diamond.
- Also an incident with a cruiser his organization doesn't know about.
- While running to avoid being crushed by a rolling giant coin, his reaction is "Not again!"
- Not a Morning Person: Shadehawk really needs his coffee if he's to get up in the morning.
- Painting the Medium: Panel border colors have changed hue based on the character focused on.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Wizard always has them. After being possessed by Excalibur, Crossroads has them as well.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Shadehawk blocks Jack's mace with the Silver Arrow and it isn't damaged but tones in a way that surprises them both, Jack politely decides the bounty no longer worth it and simply leaves. He prefers to think of it as a draw rather than a loss.
- 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."
- Superpowered 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 has to do with rather cold-blooded economics — Nefarious is an easy source of income. His henchmen aren't worth much, and tend to be more dangerous besides.