Sweet Christmas! Marvel has had some success lately over on Netflix, creating a new platform for heroes better suited to the streets than they are to large-scale movies which involve heroes combining forces to seal a CGI portal in the sky. We’ve already had two seasons of Daredevil, a debut hit series for Jessica Jones and Netflix will soon be home to martial arts legend Iron Fist.
But this month, the spotlight is on Luke Cage. You’ve probably heard of the hero for hire, a steel-skinned Harlem resident who protects his slice of New York from all manner of criminal scum. Or maybe you haven’t and that’s cool. So before Luke Cage arrives, here’s the 101 on Harlem’s finest hero.
It’s 1972, and Marvel Comics are on a roll lately. Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and various other new heroes are all earning a ton of love from the public. But Marvel also wanted to create heroes that represented more of America. With Luke Cage, Marvel took advantage of the mega-popular blaxploitation movies of the 1970s, creating a character who was billed as “a strangely unique superhero”.
Luke Cage’s first appearance began with him in the toughest prison around, Seagate Penitentiary. Betrayed by his best friends and left to rot in jail, the man originally known as Carl Lucas was subjected to an experimental procedure by Dr Noah Burstein who was looking to create an advanced form of cell regeneration that was based on a variant of the Super-Soldier serum that created Captain America.
The experiment itself was a success…sort of. Thanks to some carelessness and some sabotage from sadistic prison guard Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham who harboured a full-on haterection for Cage, the process created a mutagenic change in him that gifted him with super-strength and durability. Also, Cage decided to escape Seagate and clear his name as he had been wrongfully imprisoned thanks to his former best pal Willis Stryker planting heroin in his apartment because of some love triangle shenanigans.
Anyway, Cage was out and looking for revenge. Back in Harlem, Cage came up with a brilliant idea: Being a hero could be profitable. And with that thought in mind, he used his muscle to patrol Harlem as a Hero For Hire, abandoning his birth name of Carl Lucas for the Luke Cage alias as he was still a wanted man.
Powers and abilities
Luke Cage’s primary attributes are physical in nature. Thanks to the experimental procedure that gave him his abilities, Cage now possesses:
Originally able to lift up to five tons of weight, Cage trained his body and multiplied his strength even further to the point where his maximum threshold was 25 tons. As a Class 50 combatant, Cage can trade blows with various other superhumans and extra-terrestrial threats. Cage also possesses enhanced speed and stamina, which allows him to move quicker than even the greatest of human Olympian athletes for longer periods of time without having to worry about fatigue.
Cage’s real claim to fame however, is his bulletproof skin. Nigh invulnerable, Cage’s skin is harder than Titanium when struck and can easily shrug off various gun and knife attacks. To compensate for his enhanced durability and strength, Cage also has denser muscle tissue throughout his body and harder bones that can match the quality of his skin.
The only way to even cut Cage is to use weapons such as overpowered lasers, equipment that isn’t exactly easily found on the streets of Harlem. Cage’s durability also extends to explosives as he can survive up to a 150 pound blast of TNT without any side effects, is resistant to electrical shocks and can shrug off being set on fire even.
Even if Cage is injured, his healing factor operates to such a degree that he can recover from any wounds at a rate that is 2/3 quicker than a regular human.
Hand to hand combat
Raised on the rough streets of Harlem, Cage has years of street fighting experience that he has honed further from his time in prison and through lessons provided to him by his best friend Iron Fist.
Claims to fame
- Cage is one of the more public heroes of Harlem and New York City. Over the years, Cage has:
- Led his own team of Avengers
- Ran the Thunderbolts program
- Fought off an entire gang of supervillains under the command of the Hood by himself
- Directly defied Norman Osborne’s HAMMER initiative during the Dark Reign saga
And much, much more. But no single act of action has defined Luke Cage more than his legendary encounter with Doctor Doom. When several Doombots ran rampant throughout New York City disguised as local residents, the monarch of Latveria hired Cage for a $200 fee to dispose of them. Completing the job easily, Cage discovered that Doom had bailed on him and had jetted back to Latveria.
Borrowing the a Fantastic Four jet, Cage rocked up at Doctor Doom’s castle and demolished the doctor until his fee was eventually paid. It wasn’t about the money, but rather sending a message to anyone who thought that they could skip payment when dealing with the hero for hire known as Power Man. Yes, this really happened.
Where’s my money, honey?
Marvel’s Luke Cage series begins on September 28 with a 13 episode run, and will include at least one instance of Cage saying “Sweet Christmas” according to the trailer above.
Last Updated: September 27, 2016
Dungeon of JJ
September 27, 2016 at 12:35
Awesome! Can’t wait.
Dungeon of JJ
September 27, 2016 at 12:38
Excellent write-up Darryn. Your comic book stuff is always so thorough and interesting.