Hero for Hire #14 (1973)

Yeah, well, okay, I’m not always right. My wife and kids remind me about that all the time, and of courser I feel that way at work, too. I just wish I were more right in my blog.
So last week I posted an entry about Power Man in which I referred to the title as "desultory", which MSN Encarta defines as
1. passing from one thing to another: aimlessly passing from one thing to another
conversing in a desultory fashion

2. random: happening in a random, disorganized, or unmethodical way
The soldiers were subject to desultory fire from the enemy position.
That’s how I remember this series, but a read of Essential Power Man, Marvel’s nice black and white reprint of Hero for Hire 1-16 and Power Man 17-27, shows that I was wrong. Compared to many similar series, this comic had a very stable writer/artist team – only four writers (Archie Goodwin, Steve Englehart, Tony Isabella and Len Wein) and really only three artists (George Tuska, Billy Graham and Ron Wilson). Far from being desultory, this comic had a very stable creative staff that used the history of the character to create logical dilemmas for him.
Take Hero for Hire #14 as an example. Back in issue #1, the guy who would turn out to be Luke Cage was in jail at Seagate Prison, "Little Alcatraz". While at the ‘gate, Luke and his fellow prisoners were routinely tortured by a sadistic guard named Rackham. After Luke escaped, changes were afoot in the prison, and Rackham gets laid off. Now, 14 issues later, the story of Rackham, and of two other prisoners, Comanche and Shades, is revisited. That’s nice continuity: the history of the strip works as a background from which stories were created.
Comanche and Shades break out of jail and travel cross-country to try to track down Rackham. They seem to cross paths in New York, and then the story is continued. Amazingly enough, everything is handled pretty logically. But then writer Steve Englehart was always classy.

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