Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Many Foes of Luke Cage, Power Man (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

On the other hand, I
think it's a shame when
people DON'T go out
of their way to make
Christmas festive.
#6 This Freaking Maniac
Debuting in a Steve Engelhart story delightfully titled "Jingle BOMBS", I hesitate to mention - but can't see any way around it - that this villain very likely may have been intended to have been called "The Schizo". Luke off-handedly refers to him by that moniker on two occasions, and we get no alternate sobriquet from this highly theatrical loomakick, so "Schizo" it is. My apologies to America's mental health professionals and its many full-blown street-legal wackadoos.

Schizo pops up in a story taking place on Christmas Eve - supposedly a year after Luke Cage escaped from Seagate Prison and took up the identity of Harlem's Hero for Hire - which means that our hero gets to partake in the weirdest pastiche of A Christmas Carol ever committed to paper.

Dressed like Ebeneezer Scrooge, Schizo is first encountered by Luke Cage on accounta the yuletide yobbo is taking his play acting too seriously and is beating the tar out of a little kid. Cage breaks it up, and Schizo returns later dressed as a legless vet begging on a streetcorner, and also shooting at Luke Cage with a machine gun from a street corner. And lastly, he returns as a law enforcement officer from the distant year of 1984 and threatens Cage with a laser pistol. Ta-Da!

In the end, Jingle BOMBS ends as do most Christmas stories - Schizo dresses up as a medieval executioner, is revealed to have an atomic bomb with which he plans to blow up "Manhatten" (sic, and there's clearly no excuse for that), and then a cat burglar falls down the chimney and distracts him so Luke can slap him on the face real hard. God bless us, every one!

This is amazing.
#7 Hass du geseht in deine leben? The schwartze wants I should giff him ein bische geld!
Doctor Doom - Tyrant, Genius, Anti-Hero, magical Momma's Boy, backup repository for fridge magnets, and - most importantly of all - welsher.

You've seen this one already, but just for the record, here it goes: Over the course of a two-issue story arc, Doctor Doom hires Luke Cage to beat the tar out of some rogue Latverian robots of his who've disguised themselves as black men. He specifically hires Cage because, as he says, "I needed a black, and I needed to hire him". You've just described the central premise of the book, Doom, well done!

Hilariously, Doom then defaults on Cage's $200 fee for no reason and returns to Latveria, so Cage basically jacks the Fantasticar and flies there to demand his check. There's a big throwdown, an assassination attempt on Doom which Cage stops, and a grateful Victor von Doom whipping two hundred bucks in American cash from his funky European man-purse. I'm barely kidding about that.

I was actually disappointed that there weren't more collections-based storylines in the book: Luke is hired to repossess The Wizard's Camaro. Luke is tipped off that the Red Skull is stealing cable. Luke gets a contract gig with Rent-A-Center and has to get the couches and washing machine from The Masters of Evil headquarters. The stories write themselves!

"It's a real bear to
try and rub one out,
I must confess ..."
#8 Mister Men and Little Misses
Gambling czar of New York, Ramon Garcia was known in his legitimate business as "Senor Suerte" - Mister Luck - and to the criminal underworld of which he was a part as "Senor Muerte" - Mister Death. Oh, but also he was known to the criminal underworld as Senor Suerte, because his whole gimmick was that he wore a roulette wheel on his chest and as he spun it, one of his gloves became electrified and the other didn't and if it didn't and you touched that glove then everyone was all "Oh hey Senor Suerte, 'sup?"

It's almost exactly like that old nursery rhyme: "Senor Suerte / Senor Muerte / When he spins his chest roulette / If one hand's electric his name is Senor Muerte / If one hand's not electric his name is Senor Suerte / He wasn't that smart and he electrocuted himself /  Awww Suffragette."

There is a prescient moment in the comic when, in a single panel flashback, Senor S(M)uerte regales a flunky with an anecdote about how he once scored a perfect 100% on an intelligence test - not because he was smart but because he was lucky. I've never before seen a master villain admit that he was a dunderhead, but then I've never seen a master villain who'd accidentally electrocute himself if he was trying to dig his keys out of the wrong pocket.

One of the very few villains to wear a working gambling device on his outfit, and yet he bore no relation to the villain I just made up, Pachinko Pants Pat. Damn shame that.

That's not skin-colored, man.
#9 The foot-shootin'est villain of them all!
Repeat-villain (sort-of) Chemistro was super-scientist research flunky Curtis Carr - a man who somehow not only invented a gun which could turn anything it hit into another element, but also made it so simple that he'd later on be able to just describe the process to a cellmate and that uneducated slob could build one of his own. Yet, did he realize that he'd invented a thing which could make gold out of loose gravel and coffee grounds and so he had no real incentive to become a super-villain? No, he did not.
Chemistro and Cage tumble in an battle which ends with Chemistro wisely deciding to give himself an advantage over Cage's terrific strength and steel-hard skin by transmuting his own foot into solid steel. And then it disintegrates, which even if it didn't, it was still not smart to turn one's own foot to solid steel.

Unrelatedly, the first appearance of Chemistro was reprinted a few years after it originally run in the pages of the very same magazine. This was evidence that Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, was SO poor he couldn't even afford inventory material. Snap!

"But at least I acknowledge my limitations. That
is the first step towards real emotional growth, no?"
#10 Rawr!
Easily my favorite Power Man villain, and of course he up and died at the end of his first appearance.
Dig it: Alejandro Cortez, schoolteacher, invents a machine capable of giving students the knowledge of their professors. When the educational community for some reason turns down the device, Alejandro uses it to teach a bunch of jungle cats how to speak Spanish and to kill on command,and then he dresses himself up in an admirably crazy-ass costume and also has gloves that shoot electricity because he loves the circus. Which is why he wears leopard-print undies.

Oh, and he can do trapeze stuff. Guys, this is the greatest comic book villain ever. I'll trade you two Magnetos and all my spare Red Skulls if we can just elevate Lionfang back to the peak of Marvel's villain heap.

Stay tuned for The Many Foes of Luke Cage, Power Man parts three through whatever, I still haven't counted all these guys.

I think that might be Will Elder's mom.


Calamity Jon said...

I feel so ucomfortable about the "schwartze" up there, but (A) the lady up there in the last panel started it and (B) it really is amusing to imagine Doc Doom speaking Yiddish. "Richards? That meshugenah, always with the interefering in Doom's schemes! For this I went to college?"

-Your Humble Editor

Kazekage said...

I would pay huge amounts of money to read Yiddish Dr. Doom. I would.

So glad Chemistro made the list. I think he got his other foot taken off by the second Chemistro in an utterly ghastly Acts of Vengeance crossover somewhere.

I don't really know what the bigger tragedy is. That the guy is footless now or that there were two people dumb enough to be Chemitsro.

Brad said...

I have maintained for years that Luke dunning Dr. Doom for $200 was the smartest business investment he ever made, because that is the kind of shit you only have to do once.

To this day in New York, you hear this conversation:

"I dunno, I still owe Luke a few bucks, but there's that Visa bill, too, and I can't pay both."

"Motherfucker, when did Visa ever invade Latveria? Pay Luke before you get a hospital bill too!"

Wooly Rupert said...

Lionfang shoulda teamed up with that blind seeing eye leopard guy that tangled with Daredevil, taught his Leopard Spanish and then gone after El Aguila. Suck on that Bendis! Syung Myung Me said...


Paul S. said...

You'll be happy to know that Lionfang made a return in last year's "New Avengers: Luke Cage" mini-series. It turns out he actually survived the fall but ended up wheelchair bound.

He ended up becoming something of a mob enforcer sending his giant cats to nom-nom-nom people.

Paul S. said...

You'll be happy to know that Lionfang made a return in last year's "New Avengers: Luke Cage" mini-series. It turns out he actually survived the fall but ended up wheelchair bound.

He ended up becoming something of a mob enforcer sending his giant cats to nom-nom-nom people.

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