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Exhibition Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, no.2. New York: Magazine Management, August 1972. Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (038.01.00) © Marvel, used with permission

Influence of Film on Comics

In the early 1970s, the popularity of “blaxploitation” films, such as Shaft, influenced comic book publishers. Debuting in 1972, Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, was the most widely recognized blaxploitation character of the time and the first self-titled African American series by Marvel. Cage, a streetwise ex-con of the ghetto, reinforced black stereotypes, but his extraordinary strength linked him to mainstream superheroes. Although Cage’s name would change to Powerman by 1974, his appeal waned and the series did not last.