Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 diptych (detail)

ITEMS OF ANTICIPATED VALUE – Item No. 2: Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 diptych

by
in Hmm Weekly
on April 28, 2021

THE COMMERCIAL AND artistic sensation of 2021 has been the Non-Fungible Token (NFT), a one-of-a-kind digital embodiment of an artwork that is also a secure certificate of its possession. NFTs—sitting as they do at the intersection of art, technology, and finance—have drawn frenzied commercial and media attention, with some of them selling for staggering prices.

Hmm Weekly now proudly inhabits the realm of NFTs with a three-part artistic meditation on financial or technological hope, drawing on our years of experience with the rise and fall of futuristic value-propositions. Our set of NFT artworks, ITEMS OF ANTICIPATED VALUE, records this history of lost possibilities and transforms it into newborn items for this newborn artistic market to evaluate. Own a piece of the past, as it becomes the future!

Item No. 2

Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 diptych

This digital token connects the owner with a one-of-a-kind digital diptych, 9982 px x 25825 px, consisting of a framed assemblage of all pages of a personal copy of the 1972 comic book Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13, 36 pages, ungraded, above an image of the source copy of Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE, No. 13, encased in cheap plastic frame.

Purchase includes complete, ungraded, and autographed original comic book used as inspiration for the piece.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

I definitely lost some paydays thanks to the recent unpleasantness, and I’ve been looking around the house for stuff to liquidate and turn into groceries and mortgage payments and car insurance payments and beer money. My copy of the comic book Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE No. 1 has a typical gap in collector value owing to the condition of the item. According to sellmycomicbooks.com, a sealed-in-plastic appraiser-graded 9.8 (out of a now nearly impossible 10.0) went for 25 grand in 2016. My well-read—and I would say better appreciated—copy is maybe worth 50 bucks, but still, if you compare it to the cover price of 20 cents I paid, it was a great investment.

Money aside (but still, it’s kinda about the money) I have a more significant issue of Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE. It’s No. 13, “The Claws of Lion-Fang,” wherein Cage is hired by the mayor of New York City to track down a set of killer lions, tigers, and leopards running around mauling city employees, which, when confronted, then try their best, as big cats, to rip our Hero to shreds, at the service of Lion Fang, aka Alejandro Cortez, the embittered school teacher ultimately responsible for the beasts’ actions by means of his educational Thought-Transfer Helmet, which, of course, was rejected as an educational device for humans, so he used it on a a buncha apex predators. As Lion Fang exclaims in a brilliantly efficient one-panel origin story: “When rejected, I combined my work with my hobby, the circus!”

[SPOILER ALERT] Luke Cage tracks down Lion Fang for a final confrontation, damn near gets murdered again by the cats, and then by Lion Fang’s electro-shock Ray Blast, and ultimately prevails in early Luke Cage, HERO FOR HIRE fashion, which is to say he kills Lion Fang, whose last words are “Cage… You… son… of a….” In the early days of HERO FOR HIRE, anybody who was trying to off Luke Cage usually ended up dead inside of the same single one-issue story, which was why it was such a great comic book. None of that “evildoer escapes” crap, so the writers can recycle the villain for another episode! Luke Cage closes his cases! KRAK!

Also, HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 has always been one of my favorite comic books because of the cover, by the artist Billy Graham, who is also credited, somewhat unusually, for “complete art” in this issue. The cover is incredibly dynamic and colorful, a cyan sky behind a fearsome struggle for survival as Cage, crackling red from Lion-Fang’s ray blast, is overwhelmed by his bloodthirsty orange and yellow adversaries! I know tigers aren’t supposed to be yellow, but it works against the dark-green midground and pale green foreground, it’s all of the colors!

Ella the cat (RIP)

I had my copy of HERO FOR HIRE No. 13 in a Mylar storage bag, stacked up on top of a few other comics I was getting ready to responsibly care for (i.e. don’t stack them on top of each other) with a sturdy acid-free backing board for inside the bag to stand the comics up properly in a comic book storage box. Our housecat Ella, a deceptively cute and foul-tempered little tuxedo cat, had some sort of weird thing for shiny or glossy surfaces, so she pissed all over my stack of comics, and the insidious feline urine found its way inside the bags of a few books, ultimately discoloring the edges of my copy of HERO FOR HIRE No. 13, and reducing its collector value from a possible $27.60 as a grade 4.5 to probably five cents as a grade 0.0 Cat-Pissed-On-It-Kinda-Stinks, now encased in a plastic frame far more valuable than the ruined comic book hanging on the wall in my basement rumpus room.

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Items in this limited series are offered as part of The Brick House NFT Gala, in support of our journalist-owned cooperative. Please visit the Gala site for more art and artifacts.

Items of Anticipated Value: A Limited Series is a limited series.