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?


#8. The Man Called Mace! ("Power Man" #44 and others)

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.


#7: Power Man vs. the Renaissance Faire! ("Power Man" #39)

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...


#6. Power Man contra El Luchador! ("Power Man" #27)

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.


#5. When Danny Met Luke ("Power Man" #48)

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...


#4. Luke Cage Tells It Like It Is ("Hero For Hire" #5)

He ain't lyin'.