Bargain Comic Reviews

New Reviews of Old Comics

Luke Cage, Power Man #27 (Oct. 1975)

Purchase price: $1

Before Marvel killed off half of the duo I used to the like the Power Man & Iron Fist series.  I could say that was probably the reason I bought this issue, but really, with my current desire to try all manner of old, cheap comics I would have bought this thing anyway.

The cover is beyond cheesy, even by mid-70s Marvel standards; a masked wrestler looking guy falling out of an upper floor window as he’s pushing Cage forward, and of course there are speech and thought balloons all over the place.  In the lower left corner is the nearly illiterate phrase “Just a Doom Called X!”  What the hell does that mean?  Apparently it’s a play on words because the story title is “Just a Guy Named ‘X’!”  The credits describe it as “A simple enough tale told in a simple-minded manner by…” Bill Mantlo and George Perez.  The splash page has Luke in an action pose looking through his pile of bills being annoyed by the pounding and thumping noises coming from a gym next to his office.  The next few panels have Cage complaining about said bills when one of the gym rats, dressed in full wrestler gear, mask and all bursts through the wall.  This leads to a fight scene that has as much action as it does verbiage, which is only broken up with the wrestler’s manager shows up help cool things down, but not before Cage’s office is even more shabby than before. Meanwhile a thief has stolen a mysterious container, but the cops are following him so he ditches the container in a nearby locker room before the cops gun him down.  The washed up wrestler finds the container and drinks it, thinking it’s a milkshake, but it’s actually an attempt to re-create the Super Soldier serum.  Suddenly the washed up wrestler is ripped like no one’s business.  And what does he do with his new found strength?  Why, look for Luke Cage to settle what they started at the beginning of the issue of course!  Cue multi-page fight scene with lots of dialogue.  This goes on until the wrestler’s manager takes some ricochet debris to the face and the serum wears off.  The stop-on-a-dime ending makes Luke realize his life ain’t so bad after all.

A few observations:

  • For a dude so big and powerful, Luke Cage sure is whiny.  He’s just continuously complaining all throughout the issue.  Seriously, Luke, put on the big boy pants and take control of your life.  Good grief.
  • Which is more stupid?  A guy stashing the mysterious container he just stole in an unknown locker room, or someone finding a mysterious container in their locker and drinking the contents without a single clue as to what it is?  Real toss up there.
  • It amazes me how much property destruction there is in comic book fight scenes and yet the participant’s clothes almost never get dirty, much less torn or ripped.  The wrestler busts through a brick wall unscathed, Luke gets thrown through a window without a nick, Luke then gets a filing cabinet smashed into his chest without popping a thread (though the cabinet looks like an accordion).  Maybe Reed Richards made Luke some unstable molecule suits, it’s a stretch (no pun intended), though semi-plausible.  But the wrestler?  C’mon, this guy’s a total bum, how is he getting that stupid costume made of unstable molecules?

Snarky comments and cheesy dialogue aside I actually enjoyed this issue.  It was exactly as the credits described, a simple story told in a simple manner, beginning and ending (middle is debatable).  Give Mantlo credit for a decent story that would have been better without the pages of fight scenes (but then it wouldn’t have published by Marvel, right?).  Perez’s art was good enough, but far from the level of quality we would see from him 10 years later.  One dollar well spent.


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