Luke Cage, Power Man #21: "The Killer With My Name!"

Luke Cage, Power Man #21
"The Killer With My Name!"
October, 1974

Story: Tony Isabella
Plot Assist: Len Wein
Artist: Ron Wilson
Inker: Vinnie Colletta
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: S. Goldberg
Editor: Roy Thomas

When reading the newspaper, emotions tend to run high, and tempers may be
lost.  One reader in particular has just bent a steel lamppost out of
shape with one punch.  The Daily Bugle with the headline about Power
Man's busting of a drug ring is front page news, but Luke Cage is about
to learn firsthand about "The Killer With My Name!"

After a day of rest, Luke Cage walks along Times Square, where the
streets have become a welcome sight since Cottonmouth went to prison.
Seeing some flowers for sale, Luke realizes that he and Claire Temple
have been together for a while, but he's never brought her flowers.  For
$1.50, he hopes to show her his love.  When the kids see Power Man on the
street, they gather around the hometown hero, and ask about what it was
like taking down both Morgan and Cottonmouth.  Now that he's on vacation,
Luke tells them to make sure that the street stays clean.  At the clinic,
Luke Cage learns from Doctor Noah Burnstein that Claire has gone for

The flowers are dropped as both hands grab at the doctor by his shirt
collar, but Noah lets it pass.  He had found the note for Luke on his
desk, and hands it over.  As Cage reads the letter, he sees that Claire
is heading for Los Angeles, and she may not be coming back.  The paper is
crumpled in one hand, as Luke leaves the clinic, and begins to cope with
what just happened.

It hasn't been a good week for Power Man and the end result begins to
seethe towards the surface of the troubled hero.  A matron escorting her
guard dog is unaware that the animal senses the anger coming from the
approaching figure, and reasons that this may be a danger to its owner.
The leash snaps, as the guard dog leaps towards the brightly-clad figure
before it.  Although the hokey threads yield before its fangs, Luke's
skin remains intact.  The hapless dog is sent backwards into a lamppost.

The guard dog is ready for another round, eager for the stranger's
throat, but a slap to the side of its head leaves it on the pavement.
The matron kneels beside the dog and yells after the man who attacked her
"Little Boopsie."  She can only wonder why there's never a super-hero
when you really need one.  As Luke heads for his office,  a shadowy
figure watches him from around the corner, before heading for the
theatre, and buying a ticket for the upcoming show. 

When he took on the name of Power Man, it was to be the start of a new
life for Luke Cage, but Claire Temple has left him.  In his frustration,
a steel-hard fist punches a hole in the wall, but it is the screams
coming from the theatre that catches his full attention.  Learning that a
super-strong guy in a costume is tearing up the place, Luke knows that
this doesn't necessarily narrow down the number of suspects.  With his
luck, it's probably the Hulk.

D.W. tells him about the move patron who has been calling him out and
wreaking havoc in the theatre.  He's surprised to learn that the thug
doesn't want Power Man, he wants Luke Cage.  Having a need to work off
some of his recent frustrations, Luke enters the gem, where the rowdy man
in the gaudy costume is waiting for him.  His name is Power Man and he's
determined that he will be the only one to walk out of the Gem alive.
Cage suddenly remembers this first Power Man, the super-villain who had
fought the Avengers on four separate occasions.  In his last bout with
Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the villain had kept a low profile.  When the
time came for Luke Cage to choose a name, he didn't recall the Avengers's

In his heart, Cage knows that he is Power Man, the one and only.  This
provokes a response from the super-villain, who hurls a chair at him.
Undeterred by this assault, Luke hurls it back, but the villainous Power
Man uses his brute strength to turn the steel object into a baseball.
Cage is unimpressed by this trick, and the costume brute by hurling the
ball his way.  Not needing a baseball bat, Luke bats it aside with one

He leaps onto the stage, but is knocked backwards by one punch.  It was
the Enchantress who had given the mercenary his new name, and he would
not soon lose his reputation as the man who defeated the Avengers.  The
villain's hand slices through the rope holding two sandbags, and it is
Luke Cage who is caught directly beneath them.

Cage makes a quick recovery and charges towards his foe, who again
punches him backwards into the seats.  Although this is not a fight that
he'll quit, Luke turns, and sees the little girl sobbing in the seats
behind him.

She had tried to get out with her friends when the trouble started, but
the bad man had started throwing things around.  The child hid behind the
seats, and with tears in her eyes, she asks Luke to help her.  He sees
the face of another in his mind's eye and knows that she would want him
to help the kid.  As he carries the girl in his arms, Luke wonders if his
hero for hire bit had caused some tension between them.  On the stage,
the villainous Power Man sees only that his prey is trying to escape.
The costumed brute hurls the light fixture with deadly force, sending
Luke and the girl reeling.

The child is knocked off her feet, but is okay, while Cage confronts
their attacker.  All that matters to the first Power Man is taking down
Luke Cage, not some stupid child.  Now knowing where his foe's priorities
are, Luke tells the child to wait for him outside, and that he's got some
business to take care of.  The super-villain had been pushing and pushing
until he's gotten what he's longed for.  He's gotten Luke Cage angry.
He's gotten Power Man angry.  And now, he's going to pay.

SNAP!  SNAP!  SNAP!  The man who defeated the Avengers is unimpressed by
the street hustler who has stolen his name, and is prepared to show Cage
what a real Power Man is all about.  Luke stands his ground, as his foe
pulls down the movie screen, and carries it as a battering ram in a
lethal charge.


Cage still stands, while the villainous Power Man's battering ram
splinters from the impact.  He is now ready to punch the brute's head out
from behind his mask.  Denying what he's just witnessed, the
super-villain leaps towards Cage, who grabs onto him in mid-leap, and
hurls him into the remaining seats.

The first Power Man has only himself to blame, as he has just arrived at
the end of a bad month for Luke Cage.  His punches are easily deflected
by the onetime hero for hire, who then deals out a few punches of his
own.  Fighting over a name was one thing, but nearly hurting a little
girl, and saying that she doesn't matter is another thing entirely.  Luke
hoists up Power Man to his feet, then balls up his right fist.

SPEOW!  The resulting punch sends the super-villain crashing out of the
theatre, and onto the street.

Luke Cage is the one, the only Power Man. Before the masked man gets some
shuteye, there's something he should know.  He might want to pursue this
line of reasoning once again.  He can call himself Spider-Man, he can
call himself the Invisible Girl, he can stick a flag in his navel, and
call himself the Spirit of '76.  But if he ever tries to call himself
Power Man again, he will find that name indelibly tattooed onto his rib
cage.  The crowd of people are asked to repeat the proceeding to the
unconscious creep in the costume when he wakes up.  As for the victor of
the battle, he gives the little girl a piggyback ride, and takes her out
for an ice cream.

On the cover, Luke Cage, Power Man is having a fight with the villainous
Power Man.  Either that or the two guys are doing the Bump.

The story credits are containing within the front page headline of the
Daily Bugle.

I've enjoyed the art of Ron Wilson, who I last saw in the pages of The
Thing during the mid-1980s.

A clever use of captions, as in a world filled with word balloons, the
characters are unable to read each other's thoughts.

The two features at the Gem were "Shane" and "3:10 to Yuma."  Ticket
prices were $1.50 for adults and $1.00 for children under twelve.

The villainous Power Man appeared in Avengers #21, #22, #29, #30, #78,
#79, and Special #1. -- Footnote-Friendly Steve.

After having his power stolen by Count Nefaria, Erik Josten became the
Smuggler, and battled Spider-Man.

After exposure to Doctor Pym's size-changing gas, the erstwhile Smuggler
would become the new Goliath.

After becoming one of Zemo's Masters of Evil and assaulting Avengers
Mansion, Erik Josten would adopt the new identity of Atlas in the wake of
Heroes Reborn.

There's a lot of fun with footnotes and sound effects in this issue.

Tony Isabella give Luke Cage some classic closing lines and Power Man is
able to walk into the sunset with a new friend for some ice cream.

This Review Is Dedicated To Tony Isabella and Tom Orzechowski.

Steve Chung
"The Review With My Name!"