Hero For Hire #2-3
Issue(s): Hero For Hire #2, Hero For Hire #3
There's Claire Temple, a doctor that runs a store-front clinic.
Noah Burstein, the doctor whose experiment gave Cage his powers, also now works at the clinic, having dedicated himself to helping others after the seeming death of Luke.
There's even an explanation for Cage's costume; it was part of an escape artist's kit, believe it or not (note also the jokey Shazam reference; we're only a few months from the revival of that character at DC).
Beyond that, Cage gets his vengeance on the man that killed his girlfriend and framed him for drug possession.
Willis Stryker, aka Diamondback had been working for the Maggia...
...and he has his geeky underling Gadget design him some trick throwing daggers...
...but he's ultimately no match for Luke Cage.
Burstein is not fooled by Cage's new name, and he initially considers turning Cage in, but eventually decides against it.
The bad guy for issue #3 is the interesting if goofy-looking character Gideon Mace...
...who literally has a mace for a hand that shoots (chemical) mace.
Silly as that sounds, his scheme is to take advantage of disaffected veterans, turn them into an army, and use the chaos of an attack on Manhattan to steal money so that he can fund an even larger army. It's fairly plausible and even though Mace intends to use this initial group of soldiers as cannon fodder, he's still got a fairly unique motivation as a soldier unhappy with the way the country has treated him. Archie Goodwin is balancing political relevancy, super-heroism, and early blaxplotation (the fact that Cage is a Hero For Hire instead of a straight-forward super-hero is surely thanks to Shaft), and doing a good job of it.
Cage learns about Mace's plot from one of the veterans that escaped when he learned that the initial attack was really meant to be a distraction, with the soldiers being disposable. The veteran is killed by Mace's man. Despite the "mercenary" comments from Burstein, Cage sends the money that the veteran gave him to his widow.
Cage is shown to be bullet proof, although shots from more powerful weapons at least injure him.
We also learn that although he looks 180, he actually weighs 300 lbs.
All told, he's actually really powerful, something that is often ignored due to the fact that he tends to focus on "street level" crime.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showBertha, Claire Temple, D.W. Griffith, Gadget, Luke Cage, Mace, Noah Burstein, Willis 'Diamondback' Stryker
I was surprised how good the first three issues were. Goodwin takes this hero very seriously and none of the cheeziness that would come later.
Gideon Mace is one of my favourite villains because, like you say, he's scarily realistic (spiked ball hand aside) in that you could really see an ex-veteran trying a plot like this. (Of course he's even better in the Roger Stern masterpiece "Day of the Hero-killers).
Also, interestingly, Mace basically kicks cage's butt this issue and only loses by a fluke.
Anyway, I think Cage's origin holds up pretty well. You understand why he's embittered.
Goodwin was an under-rated writer, particularly when there was a political angle.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | March 5, 2013 4:34 PM
Well I'll be I have read something with Claire from the Daredevil television series, really forgot about Cage's supporting cast.
Posted by: david banes | May 16, 2015 3:51 AM
Speaking on that tangent of Claire, I did read somewhere that they are or were going to rerelease all of the Night Nurse issues, so it might be easier to get them all in one package.
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 16, 2015 9:42 AM
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