LUKE CAGE: HERO FOR HIRE #14-16 (1973): 1st Shades, Comanche, Stiletto

It’s been over a year, and we really haven’t had a good origin story, so it makes sense for Steve Englehart to finally get around to writing one.  These issues are Englehart’s last, and the last under this title (it would pick up in #17 as “Luke Cage: Power Man”), and Steve didn’t fully write them (Tony Isbella, in one of his first Marvel works, gets script credit for #16).  But Billy Graham got cowriter credit on #14 and 15, which I’m pretty sure was the first time a black man was a writer and artist on a comic book about a black man.


Sadly, the story itself is kinda dumb.  He goes up against a big strong guy named Big Ben and then two fellow Rackham Prison escapees, Shades and Comanche.


Then, one of the sons of a prison guard who was there when Luke was in prison appears as Stiletto.

Still, overall, Claire Temple learns that Luke Cage is really an escaped prisoner who changed his identity, a reporter also learns the truth about him, and eventually Cage is vindicated so he can become a new man when, after a one-month hiatus, the book returns.

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