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Luke Cage: Hero For Hire, Vol. 1 Paperback – March 2, 2005

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Paperback, March 2, 2005
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Ask the Dark
"Ask the Dark"
Gripping and powerful, this masterful debut novel comes to vivid life through the unique voice of a hero as unlikely as he is unforgettable. Hardcover | Kindle

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics; Direct Ed edition (March 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785116850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785116851
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Englehart

Born in Indianapolis, he went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He studied Psychology because people fascinated him, but in getting his B.A. he learned that psychology didn't describe real people, so he became a writer.

Living the Young Creator's life in New York, he got to be drinking buddies with an editorial assistant at Marvel Comics. One night the e.a. called to say he was going on vacation for six weeks; would Steve like to fill in for him on staff? Steve would, and once in the door at what was then a very small operation, he got a shot at writing a comic. It was a failing series called Captain America -- but six months later it had become Marvel's leading seller, and Steve had all the work he could handle. He became Marvel's lead writer, adding The Hulk, The Avengers, Thor, Dr. Strange, and half a dozen other series. Then he was hired away by DC Comics to be their lead writer and revamp their core characters (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern). He did, but also wrote a solo Batman series that readers dubbed the "definitive" version and broke the long-standing barrier between comics readers and the mass market. All comics films since Batman in 1989 stem from that.

After Batman he traveled around Europe for a year and wrote his first novel, The Point Man. Since then he's designed video games for Atari, Activision, Electronic Arts, and others. He's written animation for Street Fighter and G.I. Joe. He's written mid-grade books for Avon, including the DNAgers series, and Countdown to Flight, a biography of the Wright brothers selected by NASA as the basis for their school programs on the invention of the aeroplane. And he's written more comics, like Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer, which led to the San Diego Comic-Con calling him "comics' most successful writer, having had more hits with more characters at more companies than anyone else in comics history." He created The Night Man, which became a live-action television series.

Most recently, The Point Man has engendered a series of novels from Tor, beginning with The Long Man.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Hazelwood on March 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
Let me get one thing out of the way first. I am a twenty year-old white guy living in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. I am among the least likely Americans who could actually get the point (ironic or otherwise) about the Blaxploitation era of the '70's. I mean I tried to watch Superfly once about a year ago (it was on AMC, I think), but I turned it off after about 40 minutes, feeling ashamed with mankind in general.

Thus when I entered my local comic shop two weeks ago and noticed the arrival of the Essential Luke Cage Volume 1, starring the comics world's poster boy for that era, I was a bit skeptical. I didn't think I could really get excited about such stories, but I was committed to the Essentials line and I wanted to pick up on the beginnings of the excellent tale that capped off the Essential Iron Fist (starring Cage's future partner) so I took it home. Did I learn to enjoy it after all? Just shut yo' mouth and I'll tell you.

The saga begins as Carl Lucas, a Harlem-raised street tough framed for drug possession and incarcerated, gets a chance at early parole by becoming a guinea pig in Dr. Burstein's medical experiment. During the process, a racist hick guard sabotages the machine hoping to kill Lucas but instead grants him superhuman strength and durability (whoops!). Lucas escapes, adopts the cover identity of Luke Cage and returns to the Big Apple to use his newfound powers to clear his name and clean up the mean streets (and make some scratch on the side) as a Hero for Hire.

Cage's adventures and adversaries seemed to walk the line between Silver Age Spider-Man and modern Daredevil.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Matthew S. Walls on November 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Big Bad Luke Cage with his jive talking Ebonics and fresh flavour is a blast right out of the seventies....Really.

I was very surprised at how good this essential really was. It handles 70's rascism issues well and is often very well written. After thirty years of reading Marvel comics I found out things about this character I never knew.

- Luke Cage was a career criminal before he became Power Man!

-There was a lot of history and back story long before the Power Man and Iron Fist stories!

- There is quite a lot of seriously ancient marvel history dug up to establish continuity.

- Power Man actually causes the deaths of a large ammount of villains or people he knows in these stories!

This is one of the best of the "early" Marvel 70's comics that I've read.

However be warned, there is a lot of is an example:

BAD GUY: "Ha Ha! Take that Power Man!"

POWER MAN: "Jive Turkey, you may have knocked me down but Luke Cage don't ever stay down 'cos he gots STEEL SKIN!"

BAD GUY: "My electro gun will finish you! BANG BANG"

POWER MAN: "Honky, ain't nothing can penetrate my righteous black skin because I's the man with STEEL SKIN!"

BAD GUY: "What's that boy? You got STEEL SKIN or sumtin'?"

And on and on through a multitude of variations along this theme.

For a book that really does take a stand on the whole Black Power issue of the 70s it fails to get past the big issue of sexism which is hugely aparent in all these 70s Marvel comics.

Take it with a grain of salt. I did.

I love it for what it is...well written, unique and thoroughly enthralling.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Mcgraw on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've been reading comics for over 30 years and have always been aware of Luke Cage but had never read much he was in. Sometime last fall I got a hold of several issues of Christopher Priest's excellent Black Panther series. I was hooked and ended up buying all 68 issues online. That led me to an intrest in Power Man. So I started with this collection, and have since aquired almost every issue he's been in in the last 30+ years (except for 5 or 6 cameo appereances). That said this volume collects his earliest work and some of his best. Having been a true DC fan all these years I was surprised at how down to earth these stories are. Marvel has always been the "smaller, more real earth" as shown very well in the recent JLA/Avengers crossover.

But this series brought something that I had not really seen in comics before. A gritty, street level feel that took me into a darker place: Time's Square, New York City, circa the 70's. That said, know that I don't read any indepedent books, and the only Vertigo book I read is Fables. So maybe there is a lot of books out there like this, updated for today's age, but the super-hero spin made it more enjoyable for me.

Luke Cage is a man that is trying to do what is right and make a living at the same time. Who isn't? It's removed from the "Let's save the world because we have powers" vibe that pretty much defines the super-hero genre.

Prison, drug dealers, gangsters, racism, and super villians all collide with the ease of an era gone by. Some of it is remarkably simple and fun, like Luke having to order new silk shirts from the dry cleaner because bullets keep shredding his old ones, even having to wear a yellow t-shirt once because he had ran out and the others were on order.
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