Monday, September 21, 2015


Luke Cage: Wrongly convicted and sentenced to prison—reborn in a freak experiment there that gave him steel-hard skin and strength beyond belief—a man who hides his identity as an escaped convict in the role of a HERO FOR HIRE!

Writer: Chris Claremont | Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Annette Kawecki | Colorist: Francoise Mouly | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Luke Cage smashes into Danny Rand’s townhouse, where Colleen Wing is staying while her apartment undergoes a remodel. Cage pursues Colleen through the building, finally knocking her out in Danny’s study. But Colleen manages to place a phone call to Misty Knight first. Remorseful, Cage patches Colleen up.

Misty and Danny, dining at Misty’s apartment, head for the townhouse and Misty goes in first to investigate. She encounters Cage, who takes her out as well. Danny, in costume as Iron Fist, shows up next and knocks Cage out of the building. But he returns and Power Man duels Iron Fist until the Living Weapon gives in, hoping that in his heart, Cage is not a killer.

Cage proves Iron Fist correct and backs off before he can kill his foe. But his failure to take out Misty, his original target, leads him to reveal that he has doomed his two closest friends to death.

Continuity Notes: Colleen has a new hairdo this issue, which causes Cage not to recognize her when he barges into the townhouse. As she races to elude Cage, Colleen notes that she’s still recovering from her recent mission to Hong Kong in DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU issues 32 – 33.

As they dine together, Danny tells Misty her apartment looks good as new following his fight with the X-Men in IRON FIST #15. Misty then mentions her recent adventures, going undercover in John Bushmaster’s mob and traveling to Hong Kong with Colleen.

Cage’s mission is observed by two men named Commanche [sic] and Shades, who are apparently the ones who briefed him on Misty and forced him to go after her. Their interest in her, however, remains unrevealed.

My Thoughts: Okay, before I get started, let’s note something that made my jaw drop when I read it: on the very first panel of the second page, Colleen refers to Cage as “…that hero-for-hire buck who works out of 42nd Street.”

…Buck? Isn’t that terribly offensive? I seem to recall that a decade or so later, Mark Gruenwald would change the name of the African-American Bucky II to Battlestar after a reader informed him that “buck” was a derogatory term for a young black man. But Claremont uses it here, apparently knowing the purpose of the term. Was the word offensive in the seventies, or did it take on a negative meaning a few years later? I can’t imagine Claremont’s intention here is to paint Colleen as a racist, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume the word was either not as offensive in 1977, or, while he may have known it was a term used to describe a black man, he was unaware it was considered inappropriate.

(It should be noted that later in the issue Misty also calls Cage a “buck”, but somehow that seems acceptable to me. Double standard?)

Now, that aside, I really enjoy Claremont’s writing here. He nails Luke Cage’s bizarre “street-speak”, giving us a Power Man who rampages through the issue calling Colleen “fox” several times, addressing Misty as “mama” and referring to himself as “the dude with the steel-hard skin.” I realize he’s basically a goofy caricature of how a bunch of white guys in the seventies thought a street-smart black character should speak, but I like it anyway. This is the Luke Cage I know, and his dialogue first perfectly into the Blaxploitation genre Marvel tried to capture when they created the character.

Byrne turns in a terrific issue as well, giving us three full-page splashes in this seventeen-page story, all at completely appropriate moments, and imbuing the gigantic Cage with a real sense of heft and strength, versus Iron Fist’s speed and grace. I’m not sure I like all of Dan Green’s work here, but he’s definitely one of the better inkers Byrne has had over the long run of issues we’ve recently covered.

The first meeting of Power Man and Iron Fist is basically one long fight scene, but the script is fun and the art is exciting, so I barely noticed how little the plot advanced. Not bad!

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