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10 Bronze Age Comics That Changed DC & Marvel Forever

10. Luke Cage: Hero For Hire

Marvel Comics

Luke Cage: Hero For Hire #1-#16 (January 1972-December 1973)

Marvel had featured black heroes before the ex-con with unbreakable skin. As long ago as 1963 Gabe Jones had joined Nick Fury's Howling Commandos, while a 1966 issue of Fantastic Four had introduced the high-tech African nation of Wakanda and its prince T'Challa, the Black Panther - a character widely regarded as the first proper superhero of African descent. None of them had been deemed worthy of their own title, though. That changed with Luke Cage.

By the early 70s the success of the movie Shaft had proved that there was a mainstream audience for the new blaxploitation genre and Marvel wanted a piece of that action. Cage, later dubbed Power Man, successfully tapped into that market and in so doing opened the door to a more diverse array of heroes and titles.

In the years following Cage's debut, the roster of Bronze Age Marvel black characters would expand to add Blade (in 1973), Storm and Misty Knight (both 1975), and Monica Rambeau (1982). Meanwhile at DC, Black Lightning became the first black hero with a solo title in 1977, while John Stewart was introduced as the first black Green Lantern in 1971.

Cage's world - of a hero who works out of a need for money rather than altruism - protecting the streets of a grittier, grimier New York paved the way for the street-level heroics of the later reworking of Daredevil and, ultimately, the recent Netflix Defenders universe.

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