comic book: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, no. 15, 1973

Luke Cage

June 22-29, 2018

In 1972, Luke Cage became the first black superhero to star in his own comic book: Hero for Hire. The comic book was heavily influenced by the blaxploitation film genre, which was popularized by movies like Shaft (1971). With issue 17, Hero for Hire underwent a title change, becoming Power Man.

As the popularity of blaxploitation films began to wane, so too did Luke Cage’s popularity. In an effort to regain some of that popularity, Marvel paired Luke Cage with Iron Fist. Iron Fist’s own dwindling success was tied to the martial arts film genre, which also enjoyed a period of popularity in the 1970s. Power Man and Iron Fist was canceled in 1986.

comic book: Cage, no. 1, 1992

Luke Cage was revived in 1992. The new comic book was simply titled Cage. The first issue's cover depicted Luke shredding the costume of his 1970s predecessor, signaling a departure from the blaxploitation-influenced Power Man. Cage ran for 20 issues. Luke Cage has appeared in multiple comic book series since then, including New Avengers and Thunderbolts.

Netflix adapted Luke Cage for television in 2016, pairing classic storylines and characters such as Cottonmouth with contemporary issues like the gentrification of Harlem and the Black Lives Matter movement. Season 2 of the show premieres June 22, 2018.

Issues on display included:

  • Hero for Hire (Vol. 1, No. 15, November 1973)
  • Power Man (Vol. 1, No. 18, April 1974)
  • Power Man (Vol. 1, No. 19, June 1974)
  • Power Man (Vol. 1, No. 31, May 1976)
  • Power Man (Vol. 1, No. 44, June 1977)
  • Power Man and Iron Fist (Vol. 1, No. 62, April 1980)
  • Cage (Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1992)
  • Cage (Vol. 1, No. 2, May 1992)
  • Cage (Vol. 1, No. 3, June 1992)
  • Cage (Vol. 1, No. 4, July 1992)
  • Cage (Vol. 1, No. 5, August 1992)

Display case with two comics: Cage(No. 2, August 1992) and Luke Cage, Power Man ((No. 19, 1974).Luke Cage


Exhibit curated by P.J. Nastasi

Last Updated: June 22, 2018