Thursday, August 30, 2012

Super-Hero for a Stipend


Granted that "Hero for Hire" doesn't exactly describe a selfless champion for good...


But there was one group of heroes that actually forked over a check for this guy's services.


It's no wonder that Luke Cage replaced his original name of "Hero for Hire" with "Power Man," given the stigma of the former. I mean, it was like saying, "Sure, I'll come to your rescue--if you can afford my fee, that is." I don't know of too many people who are going to look up to you as a hero for that. Unfortunately, the change in name didn't include a change in status--Cage still charged for his services. And believe it or not, the Fantastic Four once coughed up the dough.

Yes, that Fantastic Four--the same FF who, up until now, had been saving the world gratis. Writer Roy Thomas got away with it (at least on paper) by making it seem like the FF were up against a wall. Ben Grimm had recently been cured of being the Thing--and the FF's charter stated that Fantastic Four, Inc. had to maintain four super-powered members at all times. But Ben himself asks a very good question: "If they want a full-time member to replace me, why not pick a guy who don't charge by the hour?"

We didn't find out until two issues later that Cage was donating most of his salary to charity. Also, Reed's recruitment of Cage into the FF was only a stop-gap measure, until he could finish work on a Thing exo-skeleton for Ben to suit up in--which, according to their lawyers, was enough to satisfy the vague requirement of being "super-powered":


Luke, of course, went on to more prominent status as a member of the Avengers.  He didn't have much of a chance to establish a footprint in the FF, since he was almost immediately taken over by the Puppet Master in a scheme to free him from prison.  A situation the new, suited-up Thing wasn't exactly sympathetic to, at least initially:


I know things look grim here (heh heh--"things" ... "grim(m)"...), but c'mon, this is the Puppet Master we're talking about.  When was the last time you heard anyone talking how the Puppet Master whupped the FF and went on to become a world threat? His little plan here is eventually foiled, Luke becomes his old self, the PM finds his old cell in prison ready and waiting for him, and the Thing relieves Power Man and reclaims his FF membership. Which may have been just as well.  If Power Man had stayed in the FF and wanted his own Fantastic Four "4" chest symbol, he'd probably have to get it as a tattoo.


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