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Black History Month Day 9: Luke Cage

Written by Greg Anderson-Elysee on Monday, February 15 2010 and posted in Features
Sweet Christmas! It’s Luke Cage’s turn now!

Many people know this character as the tough as nails, bad-ass, out spoken big black man standing tall along with the Avengers, but Luke Cage was actually Marvel’s very first black character to helm his own on-going series! That has to get some cool props for this character. The Blaxploitation craze had just occur and Marvel wanted to quickly capitalize on it, thus the creation of Luke Cage, a street-jive talker with a bright yellow shirt that opened up to his navel and of course a tiara on his head! Okay, I’ll stop that fake excitement, I hated the freakin’ tiara and can’t stand when I hear fans say they want Cage with a tiara again. Ugh! Talk about emasculating the black man. C’mon, people!

Luke Cage’s story started off with him as a young kid named Carl Lucas in Harlem. He and his best friend, Willis Stryker, were members of the gang, Rivals. Eventually, Lucas realized the strain being in a gang caused his family, so he left the gang to actually better himself as an adult and got a job while Stryker continued being a gang banger as he rose in crime. Despite all this, Stryker and Lucas continued to be good friends. It wasn’t until Stryker’s girlfriend broke up with him due to his life style that the relationship between the two friends caused a riff. Stryker’s girlfriend went to confide in Lucas, which caused Stryker to suspect that Lucas was behind him and his girlfriend breaking up. In revenge, Stryker planted heroin in Lucas’ apartment and set the cops out for him. Wrongfully accused for a crime he had no part of, Lucas is eventually sent to Seagate Prison where he becomes the target of ridicule to security guard Albert "Billy Bob" Rackham. Due to Rackham’s constant brutality, he is eventually fired from his job. At the same time, Lucas’ is volunteered to a science experience by Dr. Noah Burstein, a research scientist hoping to find a way of creating a cell regeneration formula modeled after the Super Soldier serum. Rackham, blaming Lucas for his job termination, returns and sabotages the experiment in hopes of killing Lucas causing an explosion. During this accident, Lucas realizes that he’s still alive, the experiment giving him accelerated durability and super strength. Seeing this as an opportunity brought up by the explosion, Lucas punches a hole in the wall and escapes the prison.

After coming to shore, Lucas decides to legally change his name to Luke Cage and becomes a hero for hire, becoming a superhero for the right price. The problem though was that Cage constantly found himself working for clients in need who couldn’t always pay or Cage himself feeling just doing the job was enough. Though of course that didn’t stop Cage from flying all the way to Doom’s castle to collect his $200 from the super villain. As the Hero for Hire, Cage came across various enemies and superheroes who he eventually befriends. He took down Stryker and befriended Spider-Man after being hired by J. Jonah Jameson to take him down. He eventually became best friends with Iron Fist, the two of them sharing the offices of Heroes for Hire. The partnership of Iron Fist and Luke Cage has been cited by many comic readers to be the essential hero team-up/partnership/friendship within comic-lore.

Over the years, Cage has modified his appearances, no longer wearing the flamboyant yellow shirt, chain as a belt, and ridiculous tiara, but instead regular attire of pants and a T-shirt. This recent appearance has been a subject of debate for specific fans, those who praise the low-key look for the hero who feels it fits with his every man presentation while others prefer him with a superhero costume. In recent years, the character’s popularity had grown due to writer Brian Michael Bendis including him in a few of his works from Alias where he became the love interest and father to main character Jessica Jones' child to Daredevil, becoming Matt Murdock’s friend and body guard to eventually a member and eventual leader of the New Avengers. The popularity of the character continues to grow as he’s recently appeared in a few Marvel video games, as a member of Marvel Age’s Avengers, and I have even spotted him on a few T-shirts spotlighting characters such as Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk and a few others. There’s also rumors of a Luke Cage movie in talks.

Luke Cage will eventually be leading the Thunderbolts in a few months. Me, I'm still waiting for that Genndy Tartakovsky mini!!!

Luke Cage Adventures can be found:

Essential Luke Cage/Power Man Vol. 1 and 2
Essential Luke Cage/Iron Fist Vol. 1 and 2
New Avengers #1 - current
Cage (1992) #1-20
Cage MAX
House of Avengers
Black Panther: Bad Mutha
Luke Cage Noir
New Avengers: Luke Cage

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