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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I loved Cage in ASM #123 and the Defenders (well, at least his first Vs Wrecking Crew issues)...aways had a soft spot for MTIO 13 .

Jeff of Earth-J said:


  I think “my” Luke Cage (early Luke Cage, anyway) would comprise issue #1, Spider-Man #123, and Giant-Size Power Man #1.

I think I might move on to Power Man’s guest appearances in Defenders and FF next.

I didn't remember there being a Giant-Size Powerman. Now I see that it was a reprint collection, so I didn't buy it.

According to GCD, the stories in Hero for Hire #14 and #16 are nineteen pages and were reprinted in their entirety. The middle of the story, #15, was originally eleven pages (with a 1954 Sub-Mariner backup!). The eleven-page portion was cut to nine pages. It was a rush job due to deadline problems. This notation is in GCD for #15:

"Previous "Hero for Hire" writer Steve Englehart is credited as "Camp Counselor." Tony Isabella blogged on July, 5, 2013:
'Hero for Hire' #15 was running incredibly late when I was asked to script the issue’s truncated 11-page Luke Cage story. ... Roy Thomas asked me to write Hero for Hire #15 and #16. He knew I was a fan of both Luke Cage and Englehart’s writing and I knew I would have killer deadlines on both issues. When I took the job, I was given the penciled pages for issue #15. I received no plot or script, but I’m pretty sure there were some brief border notes on the pages. I’m also pretty sure I was told Billy plotted this story. I can’t recall why I (or anyone else) credited him as the co-scripter. He should’ve been credited as plotter or co-plotter. In either case, I received nothing by Englehart before I scripted these pages. I didn’t even talk to him about the story. He might not have even been in New York at the time.'"

So if something seems to be missing it's probably because Isabella had few references to work with.

Although I have the originals, I read these in Marvel Masterworks format. Steve Englehart fills in a lot of the behind the scenes details (who did what and why) in his introduction. Commanche and Shades refer to each other as "my mellow," a lot I noticed. In one of the issues, an obvious "correction" read "my fellow."

One I meant to post earlier but forgot concerns Cage's power level and the hardness of his skin. Maybe it's the phrase "...and nothing less than a bursting shell can penetrate his skin," but I always think of Lukw Cage as an updated Superman (at superman's original power level, that is), "able to leap an eighth of a mile" and so on. Well, maybe not that one, but Superman, initially, was very much a hero of the people, just like Cage is.

Of all stories to edit, why one that was only 11 pages? And why pick Sub-Mariner to run in the back of the book? Because both characters are angry a lot? There was quite a lot of Bill Everett work being reprinted back then. Giant-Size Defenders also reprinted some of his early Namor work.

I always wondered why the Hulk and the Abomination could cover miles in their leaps, but the Thing couldn't seem to get off the ground, especially since the Hulk weighed twice as much.

Luke's power levels seem to slide all over the place since he's been created. For instance, at first he's just using the strength and momentum of his new body (unbreakable skin and presumably bones as well) to generate super strength, but later he's shown to display strength of much greater proportions.

If you really want your head to hurt, figure this one out: Erik Josten's powers were created by the same process that created Wonder Man, who's supposed to be one of the top powerhouses of the Marvel universe, yet Luke mopped the floor with him in the story in which they fought over the name Power Man. So does that mean that Luke is similar in strength if not more powerful than Wonder Man? It doesn't seem that way, yet it's hard to argue that logic.

I can buy his power level increasing over time as the process of his body chemistry changing over the years, but it has seemed to be all over the place.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

One I meant to post earlier but forgot concerns Cage's power level and the hardness of his skin. Maybe it's the phrase "...and nothing less than a bursting shell can penetrate his skin," but I always think of Lukw Cage as an updated Superman (at superman's original power level, that is), "able to leap an eighth of a mile" and so on. Well, maybe not that one, but Superman, initially, was very much a hero of the people, just like Cage is.

Power Man also seemed to be all over the place strengthwise. Sure, he could beat up Captain America, but I don't remember him ever fighting anybody like Thor or Iron Man before he became Goliath. There was a story where he was fighting Wonder Man, who suddenly yelled "You can't be as strong as I am! You didn't die like I did!" It was pretty instant unlike Wonder Man's years of being dead, but I believe that happened when he first became Goliath and his eyes suddenly started glowing. Then again, Wonder Man was always saying he was just slightly weaker than Thor, but for years he didn't do anything Thor-like. He didn't seem all that powerful in Avengers#9 either.  

Who became Goliath?

The first Power Man. I think he's called Atlas now?

I hadn't heard of him becoming Goliath or Atlas, but I was only following comics from a distance between 1979 and 1989. I see he became Goliath in 1984.

I think I only heard about him becoming Atlas on this site. Surprising how many names he's gone by. Trying to give Hank Pym a run for his money?

“If you really want your head to hurt, figure this one out…”

“Good is better than evil because it’s nicer.” – Mammy Yokum

Black Mariah was the name of a song by Todd Rundgren on his double lp album Something/Anything? released in 1972 and of which I'd guess Englehart was familiar with.  

Captain Comics said:

I remember reading this and figuring "black Mariah" had a meaning aside from the villain's name, but I had no idea what. This was pre-Internet, so I had to wait a while to look it up. In the meantime I asked random adults and nobody knew. Apparently not an expression used much in the South.

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