Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Many Foes of Luke Cage, Power Man (Part 3)

"Fruitboots", eh? Discus: His superpowers include living in glass houses, throwing stones.

#11: Ding dong, ding dong …
Big Ben Donovan (Birth name: Bigworth Benjamin Dovetonsils) is actually a high-priced attorney who ends up as Luke Cage’s lawyer some time after their initial imbroglio. However – prior to that – he starts off as a blue-balled berserker who busts into Cage’s office at three in the ay-em, hot on the (and forgive me for this) tail of one of Cage’s foxy but hotheaded former clients.

I ... Oh dear.
After having met with Donovan to settle her late husband’s affairs, she ends up being wined and dined by the big oaf until the wee small hours of the morning, at which point it dawns on her that the meeting is anything but business and she bolts to the relative safety of Luke Cage’s apartment. After getting an earful from our hapless hero – whom she calls an “ego-tripping bear”, which is honestly an act I’d love to see at the circus – the would-be victim finds her spurned date at the door with a line I’m going to pretend is from Tyler Perry’s remake of The Shining.

That Big Ben was – however briefly – envisioned as a black urban Kingpin for Luke Cage to test his mettle against is fairly self-evident, particularly as the captions actually make it a point to draw comparisons between the two. To Ben’s advantage, where the Kingpin has a taser or something crammed in his walking stick, Donovan came quipped with steel-toe boots and six-inch iron heels. SIX INCHES. IRON SOLED SHOES. He cut quite a figure in the courtroom, I’m sure.

Keep talking, jive turkeys.
#12 – After you, Alphonse …
Comanche and Shades were former prison-mates of Cage’s and, having escaped with revenge on former prison guard Rackham foremost in their minds, knockoff heroes for hire muscling in on Cage’s territory.

Outfitting themselves with outlandish costumes (which makes them look “a coupla cats outta the Village”, and no one in the Village would be caught dead looking like that, thank you very much) and occupying themselves with a complicated plan of high-profile petty larceny to set themselves up as Kings of Harlem, not to mention making their presence known not only to their former cellmate Cage but also their former prison guard, I think it’s sufficient to suggest that these two strategic geniuses have really nailed down the best way to behave after an escape from prison. Next up: Skywriting their home addresses over police headquarters, pressing hams on the district attorney’s windshield, actually turning themselves in.

Comanche and Shades - while theoretically out to get Rackham and happy to mention it every other panel – spend a lot of time blowing hot balloon juice and dragging their feet on actually arranging the revenge. Story-wise, I tend to think of Comanche and Shades as the over-polite gophers from the old Looney Tunes cartoons, except at one point they both probably shivved a guy in the joint. The gophers, I mean, them cats look tough.

Ahh-ah! He'll save
every one of us!
#13 We have much to discus
Stiletto debuts a few issues before his equally buff, blow-dried playmate Discus, hot on the tail of Cage and interrupting the culmination of the aforementioned Comanche and Shades’ revenge plan against prison guard Rackham (Short version: They fell through his roof and shot at him). Stiletto’s one of those villains with a single weapon that’s been converted to function as fifteen or twenty different weapons, so all he has on him are stilettos but he’s got stilettos that shoot lightning and cryogenic stilettos that shoot cold gas and a stiletto that I think shoots sonic beams and another that shoots gas and a wrist-shooter that shoots tiny stilettos and someone ought to tell him that if you’re so into shooting, buy a gun.

By the time Discus shows up, the pair are pursuing Cage again and inadvertently and somewhat hilariously making it sound like they’re secret homosexual lovers with every third line. They’re actually brothers, so that’s just creepy, but it does underline what dopey goofs these two are. Incidentally, while Stiletto had all those awesome shooting stilettos, Discus only had the one steel discus, so sometimes he’d throw it and then have nothing else to do so he’d just stand over his brother’s shoulder and grimace. Those two ought to take this act on the road.

By the end, it’s revealed that the pair are the malicious, revenge-bent sons of former Seagate prison warden Tyler Stuart, and the news so depresses Cage that he has to go to California to beat up Black Goliath.

#14 A Guy In A Jiffy Pop Popcorn Suit
A Guy in the Jiffy Pop Popcorn Suit deserves a mention simply because his was the adventure where Luke Cage decided to change his sobriquet to Power Man. So now he’s been mentioned. Well done, me!

I can't tell if he's saying "common" or if he's one of those dumbasses
who spells "c'mon" like that alla damn time.

It's always about race with these guys ...
#15 High On The Roof Is A Lonely Goatherd …
Len Wein gets his hands on the villain I bet every New York-based comics writer wanted to create – the evil construction worker!

Steeplejack was a shirtless, hairy hulk of a man armed with a gun which shot hot rivets (so much better than a gun that shoots bullets, because … you know, hot rivets are so much less portable and you have to carry around a big heater strapped to your back to get them red-hot, and that’s very very safe). Steeplejack was also the only super-villain I’ve ever seen who was smart enough to wear a construction helmet while working, in case of falling debris or – if it’s a Mark Millar story – superheroes falling from the sky.

Other things Steeplejack was capable of doing: Shouting dishearteningly vulgar things at women, criminally not working on anything, menacingly sitting on a very high girder and eating a sandwich out of a tin pail, and exploding when he falls to his death at the end of this issue.

In closing, enjoy this scene of Luke Cage actually deciding that something is 'too ethnic' for his book. HIS book! Too ethnic! Wow!

Okay, maybe that IS too ethnic.


Kazekage said...

It boggles my mind that, even by the slipshod standards of 70's Marvel villains, there somehow ended up being two Steeplejacks.

I mean, really. The odds that two people would have the same stupid idea are frankly astronomical.

On the other hand, there were three Chemistros, so make of that what you will.

Oh yeah, and I remember Stiletto and Discus showing up in Iron Man later and learning pretty quickly that throwing sharp things at the guy in head-to-toe armour wasn't going to do them a blind bit of good. They're like the little engine that can't.

Wooly Rupert said...

I thought the two Steeplejacks were connected somehow. Like the second one stole the gear from the first one...

Calamity Jon said...

I actually need to rely on you guys to hook me up with the second Steeplejack - this is news to me!

-Your Humble Editor

Omar Karindu said...

The second Steeplejack was actually the crooked construction boss from the first one's debut/demise story.

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