Randy Jackson Re-Reads Luke Cage Hero For Hire/Luke Cage Power Man

Yup, I threatened to do this, now it's going to happen.  I'd thought about waiting until I was finished with Howard the Duck but I decided to go ahead and get started.

For this discussion, I'll be covering Luke Cage: Hero For Hire #1-16, Luke Cage: Power Man #17-27 and Power Man @28-48.

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According to DC Indexes, the issue came out the same month Luke was hired by JJJ to go after Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #123.

Yup, there's a footnote to that effect on the splash page.

Luke Blanchard said:

According to DC Indexes, the issue came out the same month Luke was hired by JJJ to go after Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #123.

Why are Marvel comics listed on a DC Index?

Ron M. said:

Why are Marvel comics listed on a DC Index?

The website "Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics" contains the "Time Machine" function that we all use to identify which comics from individual or all publishers came out in a given month between 1935 and today, either by cover month or release month. Mike's initial interest was in DC comics but he lists all publishers. The web address is:

http://www.dcindexes.com/index.php?site=dc

I don't think he explains why it is called DC Indexes. Possibly he saw no reason to change it.

Probably didn't plan on posting Marvel then, until fans started suggesting it. Must be difficult getting very old information. The GCD says there are some issues where there's no information. I believe one or two years in the 70s DC printed no statements of ownership.

Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #13 - "The Claws of Lionfang!"
Cover Date: August 1973
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Billy Graham

As the story begins, an accountant for the city of New York named Clark Seacrest is attacked by a tiger as he works late in his office (really late, like 3:30 AM). Seacrest is killed. Armed guards try to shoot the tiger, but it turns out the lights(!) and escapes. Apparently, the Mayor wants to hire Luke to track down the killer. Luke is incredulous, and asks the Mayor why he doesn't try to get the Avengers to investigate.  The Mayor tells him that he doesn't want to use people that aren't answerable to law enforcement, but Luke tells him that his terms are the same--no interference. The Mayor reluctantly agrees.

Cage begins by talking with Seacrest's secretary.  She says that there was no reason to attack Seacrest for his job, as he only audited Education and Sanitation.

Luke is getting nowhere with his investigation. He's walking down the street pondering when he's attacked by several big cats--a lion, a tiger and a puma. As the cats are attacking, they speak a patois of Spanish and English. Of course, our man Cage has unbreakable skin, so the attack doesn't do much to slow him down.  He fights with them, then they suddenly retreat. Luke wants to pursue them, but the attack has taken more out of him than he thought. He stumbles to Dr. Burstein's clinic and falls through the storefront window (because, you know, who uses doors?).  Apparently the cats' claws were tipped with poison, but couldn't get it under his skin.

Dr. Burstein and Claire Temple tend to Luke's wounds. Phil Fox walks in and Cage wants to throw him right out, but Fox makes noises about even though he's a poverty-stricken reporter, he thinks he'll be becoming wealthier soon. Luke realizes that Fox has sussed his secret, but he tells Fox to beat it anyway. Burstein asks what it's all about, but Luke stonewalls him and leaves.

Luke goes to visit a Mrs. Cortez about her missing husband Alejandro. He tells Mrs. Cortez that the man that was killed had urged some budget cuts in education, and that Mr. Cortez had some projects that had been funded, but the funding was rescinded. Mrs. Cortez tells Luke that her husband was furious about the cuts and had sworn revenge. Luke notices a number of circus posters on the walls of the apartment and asks if Alejandro was a circus fan.

Luke goes to investigate the circus currently ensonced at Madison Square Garden. He's given the run of the place after hours. As he explores, he's attacked by a man wearing a lion's pelt. They scuffle, and then the man surprises Luke with an electrical attack.

When Luke awakes, he's surrounded by the big cats and one Lionfang, aka Alejandro Cortez. Apparently he had created a machine that could actually transfer thoughts between two people, and he used that machine on the cats. Once Lionfang is done monologuing, the cats attack Cage again. Luke beats them. Lionfang attacks. Cage pulls off his pelt, revealing his thought transfer machine. Lionfang cannot draw on the ferocity of the cats anymore, but he blasts Luke with another electric blast. However, Cage is not downed this time, and Lionfang seeks to escape by climbing a rope to the top of the big top. Luke attempts to follow, but he's too heavy for the wires and trapezes. Lionfang boasts that nothing can stop him now. However, Cage gets an idea and knocks out the support beam holding the trapeze. Lionfang falls to his death.

In the denouement, we see Cage is despondent over killing Cortez. He is absolved of blame, but continues brooding. Claire catches up to him and tells him to snap out of it.

My rating: 7/10.  One of the things that hurts many of these stories is the less than enthralling villains. It seems as if the creators felt that it was necessary to create a rogues gallery for Luke that was entirely his own, but had very few decent ideas when it came to coming up with the rogues themselves. I think sometimes that it would have been good for Luke to face some of Spider-Man's villains like Electro or the Shocker.

Sure, Lionfang is dangerous, but he's not exactly Dr. Doom either. He does have an interesting power set, but one wonders why he wouldn't go to a private organization to get funding for his device.  I'm sure Tony Stark or Roxxon or some company would have helped fund his research if he could have demoed a working prototype.

I do appreciate that Luke uses his noggin to track down Cortez in the first place. However, the action is pretty lacking in excitement, and Luke seems to shrug off Lionfang's second electrical attack for no good reason other than he's the hero.

Steve Englehart was writing some great comics back then but this doesn't sound like it was one of them. Maybe he was doing too many titles. I remember the Marvel Fun Book having villains like Lionfang in it and wondering who they were. The 70s was not a good time for impressive new bad guys.

One of the things that hurts many of these stories is the less than enthralling villains. It seems as if the creators felt that it was necessary to create a rogues gallery for Luke that was entirely his own, but had very few decent ideas when it came to coming up with the rogues themselves. I think sometimes that it would have been good for Luke to face some of Spider-Man's villains like Electro or the Shocker.

Sounds like the same problem Daredevil had.

Richard Willis said:

One of the things that hurts many of these stories is the less than enthralling villains. It seems as if the creators felt that it was necessary to create a rogues gallery for Luke that was entirely his own, but had very few decent ideas when it came to coming up with the rogues themselves. I think sometimes that it would have been good for Luke to face some of Spider-Man's villains like Electro or the Shocker.

Sounds like the same problem Daredevil had.

And Ghost Rider. And Son of Satan. And Man-Thing. And ...

Plus, DC wasn't doing much better. I remember wondering around this time if I'd grown out of comics. The early Bronze Age was so boring!

Then came the All-New X-Men, and the Rogers/Austin Detective, and the Frank Miller Daredevil, and Cerebus, and I re-thunk. Whew!

Sometimes, though, it seems like everybody hits a trough at the same time.

Ghost Rider, Son of Satan, and Man-Thing's best opponents were all demons. Once they said get rid of the horror aspects and make them superheroes they just didn't work because they weren't superheroes, they were monsters.

Not just the early Bronze Age. We've recently seen the problems of early Silver Age Thor when Kirby wasn't around. Ant-Man's only recurring villains were a bald guy, a guy that thought he was a porcupine, and a guy that spun around in circles. And who did the Torch have besides the Wizard and Paste Pot Pete? The painter? The guy that found Pandora's Box? And really, who else could they have put in the next Avengers movie besides Ultron? Kang? Baron Zemo? Count Nefaria? A young comics fan said he wasn't surprised the FF were being cancelled because he felt their old villains like the Mole Man were too old-fashioned but their new villains were boring. Isn't that why the movies keep wanting to use Dr. Doom? But Doom can't be in every issue or we'll get sick of him, which is what Marvel seems to be trying to do with Norman Osborn, make us sick of him.
 Captain Comics said:

Richard Willis said:

One of the things that hurts many of these stories is the less than enthralling villains. It seems as if the creators felt that it was necessary to create a rogues gallery for Luke that was entirely his own, but had very few decent ideas when it came to coming up with the rogues themselves. I think sometimes that it would have been good for Luke to face some of Spider-Man's villains like Electro or the Shocker.

Sounds like the same problem Daredevil had.

And Ghost Rider. And Son of Satan. And Man-Thing. And ...

Plus, DC wasn't doing much better. I remember wondering around this time if I'd grown out of comics. The early Bronze Age was so boring!

I've heard it suggested that outside of Doom, Kingpin and Red Skull, Marvel has no decent villains.  I don't totally agree with that, but really it's hard to find many others that are better than average. I'd add Ultron and Doc Ock and maybe Magneto (depending on which way he's going this week), but most of the rest--even the ridiculously powerful ones--aren't that great.

And DC has Luthor, Joker, and Darkseid. Who else? Deathstroke? The Anti-Monitor may have destroyed the Multiverse but he was a boring villain.

You left out Loki before Marvel decided they wanted us to feel sorry for the screwball.

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