The Top 10 Most Awesome Moments of Luke Cage: Power Man
With this week’s release of “Shadowland: Power Man” #1, Fred Van Lente and Mahmud Asrar introduce an all-new Power Man, and while I’m actually pretty excited about the new guy, I’ve got to confess that for me…
Luke Cage is Number One!
I’m willing to give the new character a fair shot, but before I do, I think it’s only fitting to give the old guard a proper sendoff by looking back at the ten most awesome moments of the yellow-silk-shirt-and-tiara era of Luke Cage: Power Man!
Surprising no one, Luke Cage had to deal with a lot of people trying to kill him pretty much all the time, a task that was made somewhat difficult by the fact that he has impenetrable “steel-hard” skin. You’d think knowing that bullets couldn’t hurt a guy would probablymake you think that a pair of snakes wouldn’t fare much better, but when you’re a mobster named Cottonmouth, you’re pretty much consigned to working with a particular gimmick.Either way, a briefcase full of snakes doesn’t present much of a problem as Luke’s solution is to grab one in each hand, crack them like a pair of whips, tie them into a knot, and then — later — wrap them around his fist and threaten to snakepunch a thug for information. The dude has got no mercy.
A recurring theme of Power Man’s early adventures is that sketchy characters are always taking advantage of his status as a “Hero For Hire” in order to involve him in increasingly elaborate criminal schemes. The other recurring theme? It always backfires, getting the crook punched in the mouth, like R. Lambert Martinson up here.Martinson’s scheme, though, goes the extra mile for strangeness: Through a series of costumes, misinformation and complicated set pieces, he dupes Luke into thinking that Janos Trevorik, an innocent if eccentric magician, is actually a vampire, in hopes that Luke will murder him by ramming a chair leg through his chest. So how does Luke suss out the fact that it’s all an extremely bizarre con?
“Shoes, m’man!” It’s a keen eye for detail who notices a the footwear of a vampire while he is trying to eat you.
If you can judge a hero by the quality of his enemies, then Luke Cage is at a pretty big disadvantage, because his villains are pretty much terrible. There are a few that are just mind-boggling, like Cockroach, an insect-looking guy who dresses like a pimp and menaces housing projects, but others loop back around to being so stupid they’re brilliant. Gideon Maceis a good example of the latter, an ultra-right-wing nutcase and military expert who indulges in super-gentrification by building the comic book equivalent of the gated community, and also tries to blow up Chicago while shouting epithets like “By the dawn’s early light!”Also, as you may have noticed, he has an actual mace for a hand.
No less strange than Mace (okay, okay, a little less strange) was The Baron, a one-shot villain who fancied himself a medieval lord, and thus menaced Luke with a laser lance…
…until Luke launched himself from a catapult and punched him in the face.I love comic books.
In one of the stranger issues of the series, Luke ends up fighting a masked wrestler who lives next door to him who goes berserk and starts dealing out dropkicks, headscissor takedowns and flying planchas after drinking a radioactive super-serum that he thinks is a protein shake. Because, you know, comics.
Most readers have fond memories of Power Man and Iron Fist as a team (“Power Man” became “Power Man & Iron Fist” at #50 and continued for another 75 issues), but their first meeting was a little less friendly than you might expect: Luke was blackmailed into kidnapping Danny’s girlfriend, Misty Knight, but his attempt was interrupted when Iron Fist showed up and punched him so hard that he went through the wall, across the street, through anotherwall and into a building that then collapsed on him.Admittedly, that’s more of an awesome Iron Fist moment, but to be fair, Luke did manage to get up after that. And really, you’ve got to admit that he deserved it. I mean, kidnapping a guy’s girlfriend is one thing…
Ladies, if you’re ever out on a date with Luke Cage and he tells you that he wants to “get it on,” don’t get the wrong idea. In the parlance of Power Man, “it” means “punching the living hell out of lions, tigers and panthers,” a situation that arises with surprising frequency for Luke.So much, in fact, that I’m actually sure he eventually gets bored with it. Later, during “Power Man & Iron Fist” #55, he and Danny end up fighting a tiger at a car show…
…and the guy with the super-powered punch grabs it, while the guy with indestructible skin delivers the knockout. You’d think it’d be the other way around, but I’m guessing they’d done it so much by this point that they’d actually be bored if they played to their strengths.
As I mentioned before, Luke’s enemies tend to… well, let’s be honest, they tend to suck, but there is one shining example of Luke getting the bad guy he deserves: His fight with the Marvel Universe’s #1 villain, Doctor Doom! And even better? The entire fight, which involves Luke breaking into the Baxter Building to steal a Pogo Plane from the Fantastic Four, meeting a completely out-of-nowhere alien in a crashed spaceship, invading Doom’s castle and then telling him “here’s a sample of my fist!” — is based on the fact that Doom hires him, then skips town without paying his fee of $200.It’s the principle of the thing. And it also leads to this:
That is the greatest panel in the history of Luke Cage. It might be the greatest panel in the history of Dr. Doom, and I’d go so far as to say that there’s a good chance it’s the best panel in Marvel Comics history. And it should be noted that after Luke’s transcontinental pimpslap, Doom totallypaid the two hundo.And that’s real.