Marvel Studios is unstoppable. With the television division branching out onto Netflix in 2015 with four new shows, their reaching deep into their catalog to elevate characters to A-List status. None is better suited for this treatment than Power Man himself, Luke Cage.
Luke Cage is 1970’s blacksploitation in comic book form. What makes the character better (in a cosmically funny sense) is he was created by three white guys. Writer Archie Goodwin along with artists George Tuska and John Romita, Sr. brought him into existence in 1972. Almost nothing about his original aesthetic design works today. Many comic book characters change little, if at all from their original design. Cage is currently completely different, but for the better. He wore tight jeans I guess, I don’t know, boots, a yellow shirt with the inability to close, a chain-link belt, bracelets, and a tiara. The tiara was for keeping his afro in place, because every black man in the 70’s had an afro.
Young Carl Lucas’ origin is simple; he was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit (a jealous friend planted heroin in his apartment). He did what many other fictional characters at the time did to escape; he volunteered to be a test subject for science! The experiment didn’t work as expected, resulting in gifting Lucas with dense muscles and impenetrable steel-like skin (the steel descriptor was upgraded to adamantium when that was invented). Lucas escaped, creating a new snazzy costume, and became a superhero.
Changing his name to Luke Cage, he acted as a hero for hire. Anyone who could meet his fee, he’d work for, though he often refused payment in the end or wasn’t paid at all. As a hero for hire, he often went by the name Power Man. Eventually he met renowned mystical martial artist Danny Rand, otherwise known as Iron Fist. The two continued the heroes for hire gig for many years, with Danny’s girlfriend Misty Knight often assisting on cases.
Apparently he has a catch phrase, though I’ve only ever heard, read… whatever, it in the Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance game. “Sweet Christmas!” That is dripping with 1970’s mindset. He says this instead of swearing because he promised his mother on her death bed he would stop cursing. I’m sure I’ve seen him curse in comics though.
Cage has seen a tremendous resurgence thanks to Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis brought the Avengers back to the forefront in a major way, with one of his key players being Cage. It was around here that his character design changed; a clean shaven head with a tight t-shirt and jeans. Very simple, no costume. Bendis used Cage in a variety of stories, starting with Daredevil. The New Avengers team was formed after a large scale prison break from the island jail. All the heroes present, including Cage, decided to continue working together.
Having a one night stand with former hero Jessica Jones in her amazing Alias series (nothing to do with Jennifer Garner), resulted in the couple having a baby. The two are still a couple and the baby hasn’t been retconned into oblivion. At one point the baby was kidnapped by a Skrull towards the end of Secret Invasion. Don’t worry, they got it back. I think. I stopped reading.
With Bendis off the Avengers, the lineups have shifted. Under the Marvel NOW! banner (feel free to yell that title in your head, or aloud), Cage refused membership in the Avengers and hasn’t really been seen in a few months. I’m sure we’ll see more of him soon. Considering his presence on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, his popularity is only growing. With his own television show and eventual team-up in the Defenders, he might even jump to the silver screen.
What’s your favorite Power Man story? Do you recall if he’s cursed or not? Comment below!
I think we’ll see Cage before Black Panther.