Look! It’s Big John Romita doing the cover! But not the interior…
On March 21, 1972, Marvel debuted a different kind of hero.
A tribute to the black power movement and a clumsy attempt at diversity.
Luke Cage: Hero for Hire was created by these guys:
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being white…But it did produce a comic that took place in an all-black neighborhood, starring a black superhero (one of the first), that felt a little…Stereotypical.
Despite all this, Hero for Hire was a good comic.
The first three issues were spent introducing the supporting cast and offering a general theme for the book, after which Goodwin and Tuska relinquished the reins.
Issue #1 started in jail.
Unfair treatment. Racist oppressors…He gets out of prison and we’re on to #2.
Issue #2 introduces Claire Temple, best known to modern audiences as “Night Nurse” on Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the Netflix series. But in the comics, she wasn’t night nurse. She was Luke Cage’s main squeeze.
But yes, she was also a nurse.
Luke gets the idea to be a neighborhood mercenary when he foils a robbery, gets a reward, and decides to get a costume.
Ever wonder why he wore a yellow shirt, tiara, and ridiculously large chain? Because Luke Cage got his outfit…
From a white guy! There’s a funny little shout out to the Flash too…
Back then, writers often worked for both companies at the same time and the publishers had a better sense of humor about each other.
Then, in #3, we meet the villain Gideon Mace.
And Cage’s landlord, DW Griffith, who owns a movie theater (yes, it’s an obvious tribute the famous film director).
DW would stay on as a side character all the way into the years the title became Power Man and Iron Fist, and even still pops up from time to time.
This issue also introduces Shades and Comanche, who appear in several Luke Cage comics in the future.
Lots of action.