Brian C. Saunders:
Power Man #41-46
Issue(s): Power Man #41, Power Man #42, Power Man #43, Power Man #44, Power Man #45, Power Man #46
Luke Cage is hired to guard a shipment of gold by Goldbug in his civilian identity. When Goldbug then attempts to steal the shipment, Cage is distracted by Thunderbolt's attempt to help. Goldbug then lamely attempts to frame Cage, but when Cage points out that it was Goldbug who hired him in the first place, the guy just goes "uhhhhhh" and the police leave.
Thunderbolt and Cage then hunt down Goldbug and defeat him, but wind up trapped in the hovercraft as it begins crashing into the streets of Manhattan. Thunderbolt and Cage manage to steer the hovercraft into a park, and then they disappear before the police show up.
Thunderbolt goes back to his day job as assistant DA.
Cage returns to his office to find the IRS agent that has been hounding him. Cage realizes that the IRS will soon learn that he's operating under a false name, and he decides to leave the state. He doesn't even say goodbye to his girlfriend Claire Temple.
This is promised as a new direction for Cage as he leaves his supporting cast behind, takes on a new name (Mark Lucas), abandons the Hero for Hire gimmick, and heads to Chicago. Unfortunately the same plot that makes this change also immediately abandons it as Cage encounters an old enemy, Gideon Mace, on the train.
Mace could be an interesting villain. He's an ex-soldier and he speaks like a soldier, which is fairly unique. I don't understand how he can survive a punch from super-strong Luke to the face, though; his only 'power' seems to be having a mace for a hand.
He wants to take over Chicago and use it as a base to take over the country. He's tired of the soft, weak, liberals running everything and he wants to bring the country back to its conservative roots.
Cage is able to defeat him, but, in an interesting epilogue to the arc, he has to spend an issue hunting down the bomb, and keeps getting interrupted dealing with smaller street-level crimes and problems instead (a similar plot to Daredevil #139). In the end, the bomb turns out to be a fake.
These stories are undermined a bit by the art, which is very shaky. Lee Elias was a Golden Age artist whose street level style should in theory have worked fairly well with a character like Luke Cage, but it is too sketchy and cartoony.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Basically two separate story arcs are tied together here (Goldbug and Mace) due to the cliffhanger of the crashing hovercraft between issues #42 and #43.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBertha, Claire Temple, D.W. Griffith, Goldbug, Luke Cage, Mace, Noah Burstein, Oliver P. Sinagle, Thunderbolt
Lee Elias was a longtime DC artist dating back to just after WWII. This, and "Human Fly" and a few other Marvel things, may have been the last comics he did before retiring, accounting for the art shakiness.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 16, 2011 5:30 PM
The title to #45 refers to the then-recent song "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace(I think; those one-hit wonder 1970s bands confuse me).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 25, 2011 1:59 PM
gideon mace was a great villian (even if that thing on his hane is really a morning star, not a mace). He seems one of the more realistic villians, a high ranked soldier who goes off and brings his blindly loyal men with him. His first appearance (cage #3) and last (PPSSM #52) are great issues.
Posted by: kveto from prague | October 2, 2011 4:43 AM
Upon leaving Marvel, Roger Slifer formed Excalibur Enterprises, a small company intending to publish collections of licensed superhero characters such as DC's Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter and the Fleisher/Ditko Shade. I think he managed to do the Manhunter collection and then gave up.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 8, 2012 6:17 PM
This is the second time now I've realized a pathetic villain I thought was created as a one-off for a Solo Avengers storyline really had previously existed. In both cases (Goldbug this time, the Orb was the other one), I think the character was so rarely used that they weren't given MU pages in the mid 80's Handbook, which is why I didn't realize it. Perhaps I should have looked closer at the Appendix. Ah, the thing you learn.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 22, 2015 12:58 PM
Sad to say but Mace seems like a very relevant character today. As relevant as someone with a giant mace for a hand can be I guess.
Posted by: Mizark | July 21, 2016 4:47 AM
A villain like Goldbug might work today if written as some far-right conspiracy theorist who swipes gold to guard against some alleged economic crisis or terrorist attack brought on by "big government" or some such monolithic entity. I would only hope he (assuming it would be a "he") wouldn't be drawn as Alex Jones in spandex.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | July 9, 2017 7:56 PM
Goldbug seems to have a lot in common with Charlton's Ditko-created Blue Beetle (Ted Kord). ( 1.) The bug theme. ( 2.) A vaguely Ditko-esque costume with Ditko-esque bug eyes. ( 3.) A flying bug ship reminiscent of Blue Beetle's flying bug ship, including a bug-eyed double windshield. ( 4.) A gold gun reminiscent of Blue Beetle's original BB gun. Just saying.
Thunderbolt's name reminds me of another Charlton title character: Peter Cannon... Thunderbolt! But his powers remind me of DC's Flash. He uses his super-speed in ways rarely if ever used by Marvel's Quicksilver, but characteristically used by the Silver Age Flash. Probably doesn't mean anything.
Posted by: Holt | March 5, 2018 6:36 PM
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