First Published: August 2006
Contents: Power Man #28 (December 1975) to #49 (February 1978); and Power Man Annual #1 (1976)
Key Creator Credits: Don McGregor, Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont, George Tuska, Sal Buscema, Lee Elias, Frank Robbins, Marie Severin, John Byrne, and others
Key First Appearances: Cockroach Hamilton, Goldbug
Story Continues From: Essential Luke Cage, Power Man Vol. 1
Story Continues In: Essential Power Man & Iron Fist Vol. 1
Overview: The Hero for Hire, Luke Cage, is back for more cash in the newest Essential volume. Let’s be honest here, being a super-hero is expensive work. Not all heroes get a stipend from the Stark Foundation or live off of the royalties from the patent for unstable molecules to be used to make uniforms. Paying rent, buying food, and replacing those yellow silk shirts torn up in battle adds up quick for a struggling hero. Of course, you have to charge a fee for your services.
Luke Cage remains a hero of the people, working out of his office above a Times Square movie theater. He fights a lot of run of the mill one-and-done villains created specifically for this title. Outside of a fight against Moses Magnum in Power Man Annual #1, his villains do not make many, if any, appearances in any other books.
As the book comes to an end, Cage finds a lot of familiar faces from his past coming back to confront him. Crossing paths with the kung-fu hero, Iron Fist, Luke Cage is finally able to clear his name, making him a free man for the first time in many years. The two agree that working together benefits both of them, and a new super-hero duo is formed. But like any other story, that is a tale to be continued….
What makes this Essential?: This book is a step up from the first volume, but not nearly as good as it will become with Essential Power Man & Iron Fist Vol. 1, The second half of the book, under the direction of first Marv Wolfman and then Chris Claremont, starts to finally find it’s footing, focusing on an urban hero and not just an urban black hero. The art is serviceable, but not memorable by any means. If you are a fan of Luke Cage, this is worth the read. But I would not consider it essential to have in your collection.
Footnotes: Power Man #36 is a reprint of a story originally featured in Hero for Hire #12. The new cover for #36 is included in this Essential.
Giant-Size Power Man #1 (1975) is a reprint collection of stories originally featured in Hero for Hire #14 to #16. The cover is included in this Essential.
Power Man #48 and #49 are also reprinted in Essential Iron Fist Vol. 1.
The full review can be found at Essential Showcase.
To find the original issues, or reprints, of the Power Man, check with your local comic book store. In the Midwest, I strongly recommend Clint’s Comics in midtown Kansas City. Clint’s has been in business for nearly 50 years at the intersection of Main St. and Westport Rd. The back-issue selection is incredible, and what you see in the store is just a small fraction of their total inventory. In addition to the back issues, Clint’s stocks current issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts, and more. Check out Clint’s Comics to build your own essential collection!