This weekend’s escapist, light-hearted superhero blog post centers around Marvel’s Power Man. Last year I covered his first twenty issues HERE. Here are more of his 1970s tales.

pm 21POWER MAN Vol 1 #21 (October 1974)

Title: The Killer with My Name

Villain: The original, villainous Power Man (Erik Josten)

Synopsis: The flood of glowing headlines that Power Man has been getting after crushing Cottonmouth’s drug ring in the previous issue get soured a bit one day when Luke goes to Noah Burstein’s clinic. He has gone there to visit his girlfriend, Dr. Claire Temple, but she has left behind a note for him saying she has left New York and can never see him again.

pm vs pmThe hurt and angry Power Man returns to his Hero for Hire office above the Gem Theater. Luke gets attacked there by the original Power Man, a former operative of Baron Zemo who was given his super-strength by the Avengers foe the Enchantress.

That villain, real name Erik Josten, is demanding that Luke stop using the Power Man name since he has been using it for years. The resulting destructive battle causes the building to start collapsing, trapping a little girl inside. Naturally, Luke Cage wins the fight and saves the child.

pm 22POWER MAN Vol 1 #22 (December 1974)

Title: The Broadway Mayhem of 1974

Villains: Stiletto and Discus

Synopsis: Eventually, Luke Cage receives a letter from Claire, letting him know she is alright and she loves him, but saying that she still needs to stay away for now over an urgent private matter. Power Man decides to travel to Los Angeles, the location the letter was mailed from.

Before he and his friend D.W. Griffith (owner of the Gem Theater) can begin their trip out west, our hero is attacked by his old villain Stiletto, teamed-up this time with a new supervillain called Discus. After a lengthy battle inside and out, Luke emerges triumphant.

pm 23POWER MAN Vol 1 #23 (February 1975)

Title: Welcome to Security City

Villain: Gideon Mace

Synopsis: Power Man and D.W.’s trip to Los Angeles gets interrupted in Arizona when they run afoul of Luke’s old supervillain foe Gideon Mace in a planned community called Security City. Luke is surprised that the man survived his apparent death the last time they fought.

Mace covertly runs the city from behind the scenes, and is using the place as a model and prototype for the kind of oppressive, militaristic dictatorship he plans to one day impose on the entire United States. Power Man defeats Mace and his army, while D.W. exposes the villain’s plan.

pm 24POWER MAN Vol 1 #24 (April 1975)

Title: Among Us Walks Black Goliath

Villain: Black Goliath

Synopsis: In California, Luke and D.W. find Claire and the couple have a private talk while D.W. leaves them alone. Claire admits she left to help her ex-husband, Bill Foster, PhD, the former assistant of Dr. Henry Pym aka Ant-Man aka Giant Man aka Goliath aka Yellow Jacket.

NOTE: Bill Foster had worked with Hank Pym since the 1960s and had appeared in old issues of the Avengers with him.

Since Pym has given up his Goliath identity, Bill experimented with Pym Particles to try to gain Pym’s old growing powers. A misfire caused Dr. Foster to be unable to shrink back down to normal size, stranding him at 25 feet in height. While working on a cure, Bill has been hiding with a traveling circus.

black goliath vs power manClaire says she cannot abandon Bill during a moment of crisis like this and was afraid Luke wouldn’t understand. Dr. Foster unexpectedly finds Power Man and Claire together and misunderstands the situation. Revealing to Luke that he is now the costumed figure Black Goliath, he attacks Power Man.

After a while, their clash is interrupted when the people who run the circus that Black Goliath has been hiding with reveal that they are really the longtime supervillains the Circus of Crime.

pm 25POWER MAN Vol 1 #25 (June 1975)

Title: Crime and Circuses

Villains: The Circus of Crime

NOTE: This is the same Circus of Crime that previously fought the Hulk, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Thor and others. Eventually they became so pathetic that Howard the Duck defeated them once. (I’m not joking.) Their powers and weapons match their circus acts.

        Members include: the Gambonno Acrobats, Bruto the Strong Man, the Clown, Princess Python, Blackwing, Cannonball and Live Wire, their newest member. Their leader is the Ringmaster, a descendant of Captain America’s World War Two villain of that name.

bg pmSynopsis: The Ringmaster quickly uses the hypnotic device in his top hat to enthrall Power Man and Black Goliath. He and his fellow villains plan to use the pair as accomplices in their crimes from now on.

Dr. Claire Temple and D.W. manage to free Power Man from hypnotic control, and he battes the entire Circus of Crime plus the enthralled Black Goliath. Eventually Luke manages to free Bill from the Ringmaster’s control, then the two heroes work together to defeat the Circus of Crime and turn them over to the police.

Claire explains things to Bill and goes back to New York with Luke.

NOTE: Black Goliath had his own series for a short time, in the first issue of which he revealed that he had been lying to Claire about being stuck at 25 feet high. Nice. Years later he renamed himself Giant-Man, another one of Hank Pym’s former aliases.

pm 26POWER MAN Vol 1 #26 (August 1975)

Title: The Night Shocker

Villain: The Night Shocker

NOTE: The title and villain are a wry reference to the cult show The Night Stalker, which was on the air at the time.

Synopsis: The neighborhood near Power Man’s office is being plagued by what seem to be “vampire murders” in which the victims are drained of blood. One night Luke clashes with the supposed vampire but it escapes.

luke in posePower Man does some detective work and exposes the “vampire” as a human fake who was working with an accomplice to frame another person for the slayings so they could plunder his occult possessions. Cage leaves the criminals for the cops.

NOTE: Because these are just comic books with all the attendant weaknesses, this story reflects the same inconsistent strength levels that Marvel also had with Spider-Man. They both can tussle with immensely powerful superbeings one issue and then have a fit, normal human being put up a good fight against them in the next.

pm 27POWER MAN Vol 1 #27 (October 1975)

Title: Just a Guy Named X

Villain: X

Synopsis: Power Man is trying to attract some new clients, but another pro bono adventure rears its head instead.

Willie Dance, a washed-up pro wrestler, has come to associate with criminal elements. One of those crooks steals the latest serum to try creating an army of super-soldiers but Willie winds up exposed to it and gains super-powers.

He dons a costume with an X on the forehead and hits the streets, winding up in battle with Power Man, who defeats him. X is taken away by the police.

pm 28POWER MAN Vol 1 #28 (December 1975)

Title: The Man Who Killed Jiminy Cricket (despite what it says on the cover, just like last issue)

Villain: Cockroach Hamilton

Synopsis:  Charlton Grundge, the head of Adonis Chemicals, hires Power Man to investigate intelligence leaks from his company regarding especially deadly toxic chemicals which would be worth a fortune on the black market.

While investigating, Power Man sees paid hitman “Cockroach” Hamilton kill Harry Wentworth, an Adonis Chemicals employee, on a rooftop. Luke clashes with Hamilton, who wields a high-tech, custom-made, multiple barreled mega-shotgun that fires with such force that it’s able to harm even Power Man, despite his bullet-proof skin.

cockroach hamiltonOur hero gets his shoulder, dislocated by Cockroach’s shotgun “Josh”, tended to at Noah and Claire’s clinic. The next night he hits the streets again and finds Cockroach leading some armed robbers at an Adonis Chemicals loading dock.

Luke defeats the underlings, but then Hamilton takes down Power Man with a blast from his shotgun, which this time was loaded with powerful chemicals able to knock out the Hero for Hire.

Since even his fully loaded shotgun “Josh” could not fully penetrate Luke’s steely skin during their previous battle, Cockroach chains the unconscious Power Man to both parts of a drawbridge’s underside. Cage comes to just as a ship is approaching the bridge, which will soon open up to let it through, ripping Luke in half.

pm 29POWER MAN Vol 1 #29 (February 1976)

Title: No One Laughs at Mr. Fish

Villain: Mr. Fish

NOTE: Due to incomplete writing or artwork needed for this issue, an out-of-order fill-in story was printed instead. The Adonis Chemicals story will continue next issue.

Synopsis: A group of black, independent truckers hire Power Man because they are being hassled and subjected to hijackings and more by a villain called Mr. Fish. The malefactor works for the Maggia, the Marvel Comics version of the Mafia.

Cage investigates and runs afoul of Mr. Fish and his armed goons. This new supervillain is a small-time criminal who got exposed to radioactive isotopes and seawater while trying to hijack the isotopes. This accident mutated him into a humanoid man-fish with superhuman strength.

Power Man eventually defeats Mr. Fish and his entire army of goons.

pm 30POWER MAN Vol 1 #30 (April 1976)

Title: Look What They’ve Done to Our Lives, Ma

Villains: Piranha Jones and Cockroach Hamilton

Synopsis: Power Man manages to escape the death-trap that Cockroach Hamilton and his troops left him in. Cockroach, in the meantime, reports to his boss – the new supervillain called Piranha Jones, who is in peak physical condition and has had pointed metal teeth surgically implanted in his mouth. He also keeps a lot of piranha fish as pets, in addition to being able to tear his opponents’ flesh with his own teeth.

piranha jones and chPiranha decides that since Cockroach and his men clearly cannot handle Power Man by themselves, he will personally accompany them on their raid coming up that night. This raid will be another attempt to steal the barrels containing Adonis Chemicals’ toxic creation, potent enough to kill everyone in Manhattan if they are opened.

That night, when the chemicals are being trucked across town by Adonis, Power Man surreptitiously follows the shipment. He is on hand to intervene when Piranha and Cockroach and their thugs try to hijack the barrels. During their battle, one of the barrels gets a hairline crack in it from the violence. All three men know that if it opens further, they and millions of others are doomed.

pm 31POWER MAN Vol 1 #31 (May 1976)

Title: Over the Years They Murdered the Stars

Villains: Piranha Jones and Cockroach Hamilton

NOTE: Sales have improved enough that Power Man is back to being published monthly instead of bi-monthly.

Synopsis: Power Man uses his super-strength and steel-hard body to save Manhattan from the leaking toxic barrel from Adonis Chemicals. Police arrive on the scene, drawn by last issue’s battle, so Piranha and Cockroach quickly knock out the weakened Luke Cage and escape with him as their prisoner.

pj pm chLater, in Piranha Jones’ plush home, the villain offers Power Man a fortune to become an employee of his like Hamilton and others. He is, after all, for hire. Luke refuses, so Piranha and Cockroach prepare to toss our hero into the huge tank of piranha fish concealed underneath Jones’ floor.

Power Man fights back and manages to destroy Cockroach’s modified shotgun Josh and defeat him. Piranha Jones is a tougher opponent and pulls Luke into the tank of piranha fish with him.

The fish have been trained not to attack Jones himself, so Power Man must deal with Piranha, who tries tearing his flesh with his metal teeth again, AND the piranha themselves, who also struggle to penetrate his skin to devour him. Naturally, Luke wins, shattering the tank and then taking down Piranha Jones, whom he turns over to the police.





Filed under Superheroes

28 responses to “LUKE CAGE: POWER MAN – MORE OF HIS 1970s STORIES

  1. Yeessssssss… this. I was a big fan of the team-up series, Power Man and Iron Fist and later went to dig up the classics. Luke Cage, of course, is now mayor of NYC in the current Marvel U of comics, with Kingpin finally taking his fall from office. If you’re still reading comics, Daredevil especially has been the high bar standard of late.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I agree, the Power Man and Iron Fist combo was great. I don’t follow recent comics, so I did not know that about Luke being the mayor now. Wow! So, Daredevil is back to the heights that Frank Miler had him it sounds like.

  2. I guess the power man has super power but sad is he can’t stop Russia and Ukraine war. Well shared 😁

  3. Charlee: “We cats would like to take a crack at Mr. Fish.”
    Chaplin: “Yes we would.”
    Charlee: “By the way, our Dada says these villain names remind him of The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight.”
    Lulu: “The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight? Yeah, THAT sounds real …”

    • Hey, your pets are brilliant! Marvel Comics should have had Power Man knock Mr. Fish into a bunch of cats and wind up attacked by them. Thanks for the laughs! Always good to hear from you guys!

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