My comic-book series, Rob Hanes Adventures, was created in the 1970s when I was a starry-eyed junior high school student/budding adventure strip cartoonist. One of the most important element of the series—Justice International, the agency Rob works for—was a basic part of the series at the very outset. Though I understood it was artistic license, I always was a bit concerned that the idea of a “worldwide detective agency” was a bit farfetched, particularly since my series had a strong “real-world” element to it.
As I have mentioned elsewhere, history has caught up to the series. Although noted private investigation and security firms like Kroll Associates and the Control Group were founded in the ‘70s (around the same time Justice International popped into my head), it’s not really until the 1990s that such companies have broadened their reach and become a more visible part of the landscape. The Iraq War has particularly brought the idea of security contractors (many of them simply private mercenaries) to the forefront.
What perhaps first brought such specialists to the forefront was several incidents in which contractors were killed in firefights in Iraq. More recently, a report in March/April 2008 issue of Foreign Policy magazine reports that 70% of the U.S.’s intelligence budgets for spying went to private contractors. Tellingly, the title of the article is “Spies for Hire.”
As I said, while I always viewed Justice International as a necessary piece of artistic license to make Rob a modern-day globetrotting private eye, it appears that I needn’t have been concerned about the credibility of such an agency!