Fan of Bronze: The Thing Replaced By...Power Man?!? Sweet Christmas!

Sweet Christmas, indeed, as I got this for Christmas in December 1975 when I was 10!

The previous issues of Fantastic Four, #166-167 (Ja-F'76), had the THING revert back to his human form of Ben Grimm, due to being exposed to the Hulk's gamma ray emissions. Of course, that never happened in the first ten or twelve times these tortured titans tussled nor did it happen again the multitude of times they fought afterwards.

This issue, Fantastic Four #168 (Ma'76), came courtesy of Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Rich Buckler (penciller) and Joe Sinnott (inker) and was titled, "Where Have All the Powers Gone?"

As can be expected the FF is down a member as their charter for "Fantastic Four, Inc." clearly states that there must be four super-powered heroes on their roster! Before they can deal with Ben, Johnny wants to leave, too. He was rejected by a girl (the future Frankie Raye) and now wants to try to have a "normal" life, preferably in a flame-resistant environment!

"Normal" Ben is adjusting to his new reality with a very sexy Alicia Masters. Actually it just hit me that Ben is probably too old for her. He fought in World War II so if he was twenty-five in 1945, he'd be fifty-five in 1975! Granted Alicia had been around for about ten years now but she wasn't linked with WWII and Ben was! Still Ben is starting to regret his loss of power, fame and purpose. No one seems to want or need him anymore. At least he's no longer whining about Alicia only loving him when he's the Thing!

Shockingly, Ben still thinks that he can be part of the Fantastic Four and feels betrayed that Reed has replaced him (rather quickly, it must be noted) with LUKE CAGE, POWER MAN! Luke first appeared in Hero For Hire #1 in 1972 so he was still a relatively new character. He had fought Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #123 (Au'73), held his own against Iron Man in Power Man #17 (F'74) and even traded blows with the Thing in the then-recent Marvel Two-In-One #13 (Ja'76). Luke is sympathetic to Ben's situation but Ben won't hear it. After a very brief TV interview, Ben realizes that only as the Thing was he considered "important".

Suddenly an alarm goes off and the FF monitor a bank being broken into. (They have all this set up because Reed has a safety deposit box in that bank! I wonder if the bank knew about the extra security!) The team flies off in the Fantasti-Car and Ben demands to go along. They investigate and see that the culprit is none other than The Wrecker, a longtime Thor villain who battled Power Man in The Defenders #17-19 (N'74-Ja'75). But he doesn't know why he wanted to rob that particular bank and why he was expecting to battle the FF.

Recklessly Ben tries to stop the Wrecker two times and is quickly defeated each time! But the others use teamwork to save him and stop the Wrecker. But Ben is hardly grateful and leaves depressed and dejected.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Even as a kid, I knew that Power Man was not equal to the Thing in strength as he seemed more in Spider-Man's class. But with the other powerhouses on other teams: Thor (the Avengers), the Hulk (the Defenders), Sub-Mariner (the Defenders AND the Invaders, like Reed would get him anyway!!), Hercules (the Champions), Colossus (the X-Men) and Black Bolt (the Inhumans), the choices were limited. The only one I could think of was the SILVER SURFER and he was probably too busy commiserating! And they never altered his outfit or at least put a "4" on it somewhere!

Maybe they were hoping to boost the sales of Power Man...

Ben was angry over a lot of things: being replaced, being forgotten, realizing that he could no longer be a super-hero, Cage getting paid and, most importantly, being made to feel useless.

Still I wonder why there was no interest in Ben? No offer to write his memoirs? No position in SHIELD? No speaking engagements? It wasn't that Ben needed a publicist, he needed a GOOD publicist!!

Next: You Can't Get Good Help These Days or the More Things Change...

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Absolutely Mark, it constantly annoys me when Reed is drawn old and weedy - this is the Reed I liked and remember.

Well, there was that one time...or, in the immortal words of Luke Cage, "where's my money, honey?"

Richard Willis said:

I've only read Luke Cage in his original series. It seems to me that his selling his services isn't necessarily a negative. He was never shown selling his services to bad guys and I don't remember his ever letting harm come to someone just because he wanted money.

He did sell his services to JJJ once, but gave the money back rather forcefully.

Randy Jackson said:

Well, there was that one time...or, in the immortal words of Luke Cage, "where's my money, honey?"

Richard Willis said:

I've only read Luke Cage in his original series. It seems to me that his selling his services isn't necessarily a negative. He was never shown selling his services to bad guys and I don't remember his ever letting harm come to someone just because he wanted money.

One of the points of the Hero for Hire series was that Luke's financial situation was even worse than Peter Parker's and selling his services as a superhero was his way of making a living, no worse than Peter selling photos of himself fighting villains or Matt Murdock selling his legal knowledge and abilities or Donald Blake selling his medical skills.  Or, for that matter, Sam Spade selling his detective skills.
 
Richard Willis said:

Luke Cage was the only superhero who sold his services.

I've only read Luke Cage in his original series. It seems to me that his selling his services isn't necessarily a negative. He was never shown selling his services to bad guys and I don't remember his ever letting harm come to someone just because he wanted money.

Even though the FF is a family, they are still getting paid in that they don't have to find a way to pay for their food and shelter. This also applies to Cap's Kookie Quartet.

Where is this quote from? A ret-con?

Randy Jackson said:

Well, there was that one time...or, in the immortal words of Luke Cage, "where's my money, honey?"

Richard Willis said:

I've only read Luke Cage in his original series. It seems to me that his selling his services isn't necessarily a negative. He was never shown selling his services to bad guys and I don't remember his ever letting harm come to someone just because he wanted money.

I guess you didn't know about this one. Cage hired out to Dr. Doom to do some legitimate work. When Doom stiffed him, Cage borrowed an aircraft from the FF to go to Latveria to collect.


Richard Willis said:

Where is this quote from? A ret-con?

Randy Jackson said:

Well, there was that one time...or, in the immortal words of Luke Cage, "where's my money, honey?"

Richard Willis said:

I've only read Luke Cage in his original series. It seems to me that his selling his services isn't necessarily a negative. He was never shown selling his services to bad guys and I don't remember his ever letting harm come to someone just because he wanted money.

Randy Jackson said:

Well, there was that one time...or, in the immortal words of Luke Cage, "where's my money, honey?"

Richard Willis said:

Where is this quote from? A ret-con?

No, it's from the (in)famous tale where Luke Cage went all the way to Latveria to collect payment for services from Dr. Doom! From Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #9 (May 1973). Details here, from Comic Book Resources: "I Love Ya But You're Strange: 'Where's My Money, Honey?'"

I'm thinking my next reading project, once I'm finished with Howard, may well be Luke Cage: Hero For Hire.

And since Clark ninja'd me...

"Every day of the week and twice on Sunday!"

By the way, there was a second look at that story in Damage Control #2 (June 1989). Details here from Comic Book Resources: "The Abandoned an' Forsaked: So Is Dr. Doom a Deadbeat or What?"

Randy Jackson said:

And since Clark ninja'd me...

"Every day of the week and twice on Sunday!"

That's right. My guy is so tough he can handle Batman AND Superman.

Bleah.  He can't even handle the stupidest super-villain this side of the Guardians and Odin.

Oh, and I think this is the link you meant: So is Doom a Deadbeat or What? Or not.  CBR seems to be doing something odd with redirection. 

Richard Willis, if you can get through to that link, that's the sequence in reference between Luke Cage and Dr. Doom.

ClarkKent_DC said:

That's right. My guy is so tough he can handle Batman AND Superman.

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