LUKE CAGE: POWER MAN #17 (1974): Who was the first black superhero?

Len Wein picks up the writer’s pen and George Tuska returns on pencils in a story where Tony Stark hires Luke Cage to break into his own factory and then charges Cage for the damages due to the break in.  Really stupid. 

But I really want to write about that cover tagline: “The First and Still the Greatest Black Superhero!”  Uh, no.  Not only is this bullshit, but Marvel isn’t even giving itself the credit it deserves.

Luke Cage first appeared in 1972, six years after Black Panther debuted in Fantastic Four #52.  Panther is recognized by most as the first super-powered black man in comics, but he wasn’t African American—he was just African.  So would the cover tagline have been accurate if it billed Cage as the “First African American Superhero?”

Sadly, no.  There are at least two other contenders.  First, “Lothar,” who was Mandrake the Magician’s sidekick and had extraordinary strength—in one issue, he lifted an elephant.  That was way, way back in 1934.

Second, “Lion Man,” who first appeared in All-Negro Comics #1.  He seemed to have enhanced physical abilities, but it wasn’t clear whether he had powers. 

Then we get to Black Panther, who certainly was the first black superhero with his own title. 

And then we get to Falcon, who first appeared in 1969, and had the ability to communicate with birds the way Aquaman does with fish (Sam Wilson’s bird-telepathy doesn’t seem to be canon anymore).

All that before Luke Cage.  Sorry, guys, but your hyperbole gets five Pinocchio noses.

In this issue, Luke fights Iron Man and kinda wins.

He also calls Iron Man “sugar.”

Until they finally “talk it out.”

Yeah, it was a trick designed to mess with Cage. Stark didn’t really hire him.

Long post for an issue that doesn’t amount to much.

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