Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, (aka Power Man) is a Marvel Comics series debuting June, 1972. Originally created as part of the 1970s blaxploitation craze. the series was created by writers Archie Goodwin and Roy Thomas, along with artists John Romita, Sr. and George Tuska.
Carl Lucas grew up on the streets of Harlem. Convicted of a crime he didn't commit, he was offered a chance at parole if he'd participate in a prison experiment on cell regeneration. The experiment was sabotaged by a prison guard with a grudge against Lucas, granting him super strength and Nigh-Invulnerability. Traumatised by the experiment, Lucas lashed out at the guard, then, fearing that his lash-out would see him losing parole, made a break for it. Returning to New York, he was inspired to become a 'hero for hire', helping out anyone who could pay his price, and adopted the pseudonym "Luke Cage".
The title was known as "Hero for Hire" for 16 issues (June, 1972-December, 1973), then as "Power Man" for issues #17-49 (February, 1974-February, 1978). In issue #50, Luke was teamed up with Iron Fist. The series continued as "Power Man and Iron Fist" for issues #50-125 (April, 1978- September, 1986).
Luke and his Hero For Hire days have inspired a number of other heroes — one has taken up Luke's old "Power-Man" name, and several others have created an entire team devoted to this way of heroism, Heroes for Hire.
See here for more info on Luke Cage in general.
Luke Cage, Hero for Hire provide examples of:
- Badbutt: This comic is the result of an angry black 70s revolutionary whose dialogue was written by comic book writers and then run through a filter to make sure it was rated G. Luke had to compensate for his inability to say bad words by putting his fists through all the background objects.Luke Cage: That's how you want to play it, Doom? You motherless son of a witch, you'll find out how Luke Cage plays it!note
- Catchphrase: "Sweet Christmas!"
- Never mind the fact he'll keep fighting, he just would not stop giving money to a coffee machine that kept screwing up his orders. Ever.
- You should never... ever... ever try to run out on a debt to Luke. As referenced in the quote under the Badbutt entry: Doctor Doom tried and it resulted in Luke bum rushing the Baxter Building to 'borrow' a Fantasticar (clobbering the Thing in the process), flying himself all the way to Latveria and beating Doom like a rented mule. This was all over a matter of $200. "Where's my money, Honey?" has on occasion been referred to as the four scariest words in the Marvel Universe.
- Disney Villain Death: Many issues of Luke Cage: Hero For Hire and Luke Cage: Power Man ended with the villains falling from great heights. Mr. Fish, Steeplejack, and Lionmane all met their end this way. It *almost* happened to Gideon Mace too.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Luke and Danny are walking in civvies, already in a bad mood after some friends of theirs have been attacked. A group of thugs decide to mug them, one slashing open Danny's shirt.Thug 1: Wait, that dragon brand... That's...that's the mark of...Iron Fist!Thug 2: A-and if he's the Fist...then the other dude's gotta be...Thug 3: Oh, no...(cue Luke and Danny trashing the gang to within an inch of their lives)
- Mythology Gag: Mr. Fish's real name (Mortimer Norris) combines the names of Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, the creators of Aquaman.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Shades, Comanche, Discus, and Stiletto. The former two were usually Those Two Bad Guys, with the latter two as Bash Brothers. Eventually, all four of them were recruited into Nightshade's Flashmob and played this trope straight.
- Rogues Gallery Transplant: Nightshade (originally a Captain America villain), Purple Man (previously a Daredevil villain but now Jessica's Arch-Enemy), and Man Mountain Marko (originally a stock henchman fought by Spider-Man).
- Thematic Rogues Gallery: At a glance, it seems like a lot of Luke's villains are themed around either cold-blooded animals (Diamondback, Cottonmouth, Mr. Fish, Piranha Jones, Cockroach Hamilton, etc.) or weapons (Spear, Discus, Stiletto, Gideon Mace, etc.)
- Vengeful Vending Machine:
- Luke Cage, Power Man, had a Running Gag feud with the coffee machine at the local police station based on its supposedly hostile behavior.
- And the soda machine at his old office. Clearly, Luke had no luck with crazy vending machines.
- Villain Respect: From Doctor Doom, during the above-mentioned quest for the $200. In Doom's own words:Doctor Doom: You have amply earned my respect this day, and it is more difficult to obtain than my funds - which are not easy to obtain! Take what you say I owe you - and then go!
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: "Jingle Bombs" was a more cynical take on the story, where a villain named Marley tested Luke Cage to see if humanity was worth him not nuking New York. He decided that Luke was all right, but humanity needed to go, and it was only through a robber's unwitting interference that Luke saved the day. The narration box says that while the world has survived, it hasn't changed a bit.