Monday, July 16, 2012

Hero for Hire #9 (May 1973)

I bought two comics on Wednesday at Paper Heroes. One was The Mighty Marvel Western #44, discussed earlier. The other was Hero for Hire #9 (May 1973). Now, I've not really been buying so many vintage Marvel superhero books, but this one was irresistible. Perhaps you ask why?

I ask you, could you refuse a book that contains such a panel? Especially when it could be yours for a mere six dollars?

The Luke Cage character was not even a year old in terms of published output by the time Hero for Hire #9 hit the racks. With this story (and the one in the previous issue), you can see Steve Englehart trying to establish Cage as part of the larger Marvel Universe. No, not just a part, but as someone who can hold his own. The interaction with both the FF and Dr. Doom is interesting in this regard. Luke Cage is the new guy on the block, and he has to prove his mettle.

This issue has been written about a LOT, so I don't want to rehash a plot synopsis that has been written several times over. Basically, Luke Cage travels to Latveria to collect a debt of $200(!) from Doctor Doom. There's a lot more to it than that, but suffice to say, Cage gets his money...honey.

This issue was a lot of fun. Englehart's work in the first half of the decade always makes for a good read. Yes, Luke Cage sounds pretty much as if he was written by a white guy who's seen a few blaxploitation movies for research. I can't exactly fault this approach given the times, but it is forced in places (like Cage mentioning prison twice). Dr. Doom also reads a bit odd in places, but y'know, I just take that as Steve's approach to writing in those days and roll with it.

On the art front, the cover is by Billy Graham. Graham is also the inker, and could be considered Cage's primary artist during the characters formative years. I don't think I own any of his other work, but it looks intriguing. The pencils are by George Tuska, and they convey a lot of power. Graham is a nice complement to Tuska, which isn't something you can say about every combo in 1970s Marvel.

Don't really have a whole lot on the ads this time, except there are a lot of different ones for one particular trade school in several different fields (conservation, accounting, veterinary assistant, drafting, surveying). Guess they wanted to cover their bases? There's also this tiny little bit of strangeness buried in the "Market Place" ad alongside the mail stuffing jobs and antigravity device:

HELP WANTED - Vietnam combat vets or individuals willing to train for overseas employment. Send $3 (Guaranteed). Challenge Inc., [redacted], Lafayette, IN 47906.

What sort of pseudo soldier of fortune business do you suppose that was all about?

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