The Story of Luke Cage – The Power Man
Luke Cage first appears in 1972 in the comic ”Hero for Hire” #1. The appearance of Luke Cage in series is important for one major reason; although Luke is preceded by heroes such as Gabriel Jones, Sam Wilson, Black Panther Luke is the first black hero to receive his own solo series in Marvel comics
This is possible because in the early 1970’s following the conclusion of the Civil Rights Movements in America, African Americans just received equal rights. This leads to Hollywood reacting to this development by creating movies within that demographic.
Marvel is looking to create a character that will reel in the African American community but keep existing fans satisfied. Marvel created a character who could relate to the African American struggles but also stand on his own two feet in his own stories.
Meet Luke Cage
Luke Cage grows up on the streets of Harlem. Cage and others engaged in stealing and hustling in order to get by. Cage forms a friendship with a man named Willis Stryker. Cage and Stryker go on to commit deadlier crimes and end up developing skills; Stryker becomes exceptional at throwing knives while Cage becomes unbeatable at fist fights. As they grow older Cage is at peace with his stealing and hustling while Stryker prefers high-end crimes le cartel.
Cage and Stryker
Stryker and Cage meet a woman named Reva. This leads them to become rivals. Stryker lavishes her with money and meets all her needs. Due to Stryker’s business booming, he begins to draw trouble from a rival group called “The Syndicate ” who believe that Stryker is moving into their territory. Stryker ignores them and they come back to his cartel to beat him up. Reva runs to Cage for help. Cage decides to help his friend and beats up the thugs and rescues his friend. Cage and Reva take Stryker to an abandoned building for the night.
Stryker recovers but despises Cage, blaming him for Reva leaving. Although, Reva expressed her displeasure of almost being killed and states that as the reason for leaving Stryker. Stryker and Cage part ways while CGe and Reva develop a relationship that may potentially lead to marriage.
Cage goes to Prison
Stryker goes on to plant drugs in Cage’s house and calls the police on him. Cage is arrested and thrown in prison. Reva goes back to Stryker but is killed during a hit by The Syndicate.
In Luke’s first appearance he is in Seagate prison where he is respected by all his inmates. He has been in solitary confinement and is just being released after days. Luke has a breeding animosity with the Guard which is believed to be caused by racial undertones.
Lucas is released from solitary confinement and proceeds to have a sit down with the man named Shades. Shades express concern that the new warden will ruin the current structure where the prisoners take care of their own problems. Shades proffer a solution where the prisoners are rallied and riot on the warden’s first day; hence, showing his inability.
Luke is important here because of his influence with the prisoners. If Luke does not rally the prisoners’ no one will make a move. Luke decides to take a stand on behalf of the African Americans but is insulted by Comanche who calls him an ’Uncle Tom’. Luke punches Comanche and makes it clear he has no plans to work for everyone. What we see here is Luke has no problems being alone.
The interim warden decides to invite Luke to his office instead of taking him to solitary confinement for fighting. Rackhamtries to convince Luke to become his snitch and give him information on the African Americans in prison. Luke is appalled and refuses to shake his hand.
This act is symbolic as it is seen as a sign of disrespect and a sign that you believe that you are better than them. Rackham has Luke sent back to solitary confinement. Rackham gives quirt the authority to assault Luke. Luke refuses to fight back and instead insults Quirt by taunting him and making him out to be a failure. This earns Cage more respect with the prisoners. Luke is beaten up by Quirt until the new warden arrives.
The new warden fires Quirt on the spot and locks him up with Cage for ten minutes. Cage brats Quirt to stupor. The new warden enters Rackham’s office but Rackham is not facing the door and mistakes the new warden as Quirt. He ends up confessing the whole plan to the new warden. Rackham is demoted to a guard position.
Cage Receives SuperPowers
Doctor Noah Burstein is invited to treat Cage’s wounds. He also mentions to Cage he would love to work with him. Cage wants to leave to prison to prove his innocence and revenge Reva’s death; he is not interested in being used as an experiment with the hopes that the parole board will love it. However, desperation allows him to take the offer.
Burstein injects Cage with a disease serum in order to test out the healing machine. Unfortunately, Hackham messes with the serum which leads to complications. Hackham attempts to kill cage but is killed. Cage breaks out of prison in fear of being killed for the death of Hackham.
The guards chase Cage and shoot him into the river. cage is presumed dead and his case file closed. He makes his way to Harlem to find Stryker and take his revenge.
Hero for Hire
Cage sets up a hero for Hire office and attends to tasks on street level by people who can afford his prices. Cage is later put against small-time villains to build his career such as Mace. He is also put against other villains outside of African Americans such as Lion Fang.
Luke Cage and the Fantastic Four
In ”Hero for Hire” #9 Cage teams up with the Fantastic Four in order to recover money owed from Doom for a job handled by Cage.
Luke Cage – Power Man
Cage is popular among the African American community but as the blaxploitation era began to diminish so does Cage’s popularity. This leads to the canceling of the series and the relaunch of a new series called Power Man.
Cage as Power Man gains the popularity Marvel is looking for because Power Man is portrayed as a full Superhero rather than an Outlier.
Cage and the Marvel Team
Cage’s popularity grows when he is cast as one of the team members of ’The Defenders’. The Defenders deal with street-level villains who are too weak for the Avengers to bother with but too strong for one member of The Defender to beat alone.
This team-up throws Cage into popularity and under the radar of those who never knew Cage existed or were not interested.
Cage sees himself being teamed up with BenGrimm, Iron Fist, Dead Pool, the Original Torch, The New Avengers. which also gained him popularity in the Marvel community.
Cage also has a romantic interest with Jessica Jones which leads to him leaving the team and moving to Canada to raise Jessica’s baby.
Luke goes on to form ’The Mighty Avengers’ who see dedicated to pro-bono cases and working for charity.
Cage is later returned to his own solo series titled CAGE. The story focuses on Cage’s transition to Chicago. The story only lasts 20 issues.
Cage is created out of the need for the African American community to have its own special solo series. However, the world has moved on with this; coupled with the fact that various Marvel groups such as X-Men and The Avengers have their own multi diversity lineup Cage’s X-factor is not so special. Enter BushMaster