Monday, August 4, 2008

Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #2 (August, 1972)

"Vengeance is Mine!" is less a second issue and more a continuation of what should probably have been an extra-length debut. There's a long flashback to the first issue, as well as the filling-in of some gaps. For instance, Cage couldn't afford a custom costume, and turned down the shop proprietor's offer to sell him the Fawcett Captain Marvel's union suit. "Turned back to us when the original owner got involved in a lawsuit." Red wasn't Cage's color, but he spotted a silver headband he liked, and most of the rest of his gear came from an escape artist who "sold it to the shop when his act folded." I wonder if that ever came up again? Cage could dig it, and even though the shopkeeper chided, "at these prizes... don't sweat the best costume prize," Luke even made use of the chains at the bottom of the trunk. "Yeah, man... It WORKS!"

Cage had tried to rely strictly on an answering service, but couldn't reliably catch new clients for jobs. When thugs tried to force him to visit Diamond-Back, he mangled them and the pay phone he'd been using. This attracted the attention ghetto relief doctor Claire Temple, one hot mamma who'd worked her Afro into a near perfect circle. Temple's practice was routinely sacked by delinquents, tonight being no exception, as Cage lifted a filing cabinet off her partner... Dr. Noah Burstein! The prison scientist responsible for creating Power Man only hinted that Cage's new name and look hadn't passed muster, but allowed Cage his leave regardless. "He knows, baby... Believe anything else an' you're jivin'. But why didn't he say somethin'? Probably means to do his talkin' to the Man."

At Willis Stryker's office, a Syndicate lawyer politely demanded Diamond-Back get his house in order. Stryker, now sporting a snakeskin bodysuit, demonstrated his souped-up knife collection as he plotted Cage's demise.

Meanwhile, the Hero for Hire found a shithole office on 42nd Street to rent out, over a movie theater that ran westerns audible through the floorboards. "'Least I'll know any client who comes this far must want me bad." Dave "D.W." Griffith, the owner's nephew, was happy to finally get someone up in there. Almost immediately, Cage's service forwarded a frantic call from Doc Burstein informing him Diamondback had kidnapped Dr. Temple. By the way, the various spellings for Stryker's nom de mal aren't typos, unless you count the original scripts.

A message left by the kidnappers led Cage to a garage, where he was hit by a car. Cage played possum until he located Stryker and Temple, at which point he karate chopped a goon's fibula in two. A few panels of bitch-slapping later, Temple was free, and Diamondback was on the run. Cage's smashed a blade hilt that emitted terrific sonics, then rushed Diamondback to evade another that sprayed deadly gas. Cage crowded Diamondback so he couldn't use his explosive dagger, as the villain stepped backward through a skylight. "Unghh... This cost me my shot at Lucas--- but 'fore he can catch me, I'll be long gon--" Just then, the explosive dagger landed blade first at Stryker's side, allowing him only the chance to pull at stupid face before the big "BA-DOM!"

"It's over, Reva honey, but not quite the way I planned. Willis died by his own knife... if you can't really call that revenge-- It's sure some kind of justice."

From over the ledge, Cage spied Claire, Burstein, and the cops. Were they coming in to congratulate him, or place him under arrest...?

Sadly, while Billy Graham still provides inks, there are no breakout moments like in the debut. Also, John Romita Sr. only contributes a cover, unlike the interior tweaks from last time, leaving way more George Tuska on display than will do anyone good. While Archie Goodwin and others took heat fom some of the more "colorful" dialogue, nothing here compares with Tuska's monstrous Diamondback.

No comments:


Blog Archive


Surrender The Pink?
All books, titles, characters, character names, slogans, logos, and related indicia are trademarks and/or copyright of their respective rights holders.