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365 Reasons to Love Comics #51

No one liked yesterday’s? Aww…

Anyway, you’ll all love today’s, because I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this particular character and his rockin’ catchphrase to show up.

2/20/07

51. Luke Cage

Luke Cage 1.jpg

Don’t let the yellow shirt, tiara, and “Sweet Christmas!” fool you. Luke Cage is the toughest dude around. He’s got unbreakable skin, for cryin’ out loud.

One of the first black superheroes to have his own title (and definitely the first at the big two), Cage has gone by many names: Hero for Hire (yeah, you had to pay him to save your ass), Power Man, and simply Cage.

He’s gone from being a gruff loner to part of a buddy team (with his best pal Iron Fist), to a member of the Fantastic Four, to becoming a family man and leading the Avengers. There’s been a lot of character growth over time. He’s starred in two-ish ongoing series and a couple mini’s and team books. I’m surprised he hasn’t got his own series these days, what with Bendis loving him so much and elevating his status higher and higher.

Luke Cage 3.jpg

I guess it’s ’cause the character doesn’t get enough respect. He developed back in the 70′s as a bit of a blaxploitation character, but Marvel was trying to be racially relevant. His powers aren’t very special or gimmicky– he’s just really strong and really durable. The “for hire” aspect was interesting but silly in a world where there’s dozens of other guys who will help you out for free.

In a way, I guess he was a precursor to Mr. T, bodyguard, tough angry black guy, and A-Team member. Hmm… I’ve never thought of that before.

Luke Cage 2.jpg

Cage used to have a rich head of hair, but these days he’s following the “all black men must be bald” edict that Marvel seems to have put into effect. Weird. Let’s be glad he escaped another tradition back in the 70′s and was never called “Black Power Man.”

They tried to hip-hop-ize him recently in that MAX mini, and I’m afraid that’s the direction they want to go in the proposed movie. No way, man. A Cage movie needs to be a 70′s period piece. The guy is Shaft meets Mr. T, only, you know, with the ability to be taken seriously. And I say this as a guy who loves Shaft and Mr. T. Set a film back when being a streetwise tough-as-nails protector of the neighborhood meant something. And, you know, so we can have afro’s. …no?

Luke Cage 4.jpg

So yeah, I think Cage is a pretty cool character. Hell, the reasons I listed above mean nothing in comparison to Cage as the star of the greatest comic panel of all time:

Sweet Christmas!.jpg

I rest my case.

Sweet Christmas, friends.

25 Comments

Luke Cage was badass before badass was cool. Everyone jumps on his bandwagon now, but Cage was busting heads and taking names before most of today’s fanboys were alive — no jive, sucka!

One of the all time greats!

“Where’s my money, honey?” was/is my favorite comic quote of all time. I used to say it in gym class in the 7th grade because my old teacher was a huge Power Man fan.

I mean, Nic Cage took his name from Luke, for Christ’s sake. He’s got to be the best.

I’ve been a Cage fan since I was little. Its awesome to know people take him somewhat serious nowadays. The bald head, black t-shirt, doo rag and goatee look doesnt work for me but whatever, its cool enough to know hes made the superhero big leagues.

I loved Powerman and Iron Fist. And I loved Powerman’s original costume so much I made one for Halloween. I had the muscles and the afro and the chains and everything. I was also as white as Conan O’Brien, but my ‘fro was tight!

Forgot to mention; I also really like Cage’s new look, but it makes no sense at all. If your power is that you are mostly indestructable, going into battle in street clothes is going to leave you naked a lot. Did Reed whip him up an unstable molecule do-rag? And just how do you shave steel-hard hair?

And just how do you shave steel-hard hair?

With an adamantium razor!

“The guy is Shaft meets Mr. T, only, you know, with the ability to be taken seriously.”

Perfect!

Hey Bill — I hope this sounds like the inquiry I mean it to be, and not an arrogant demand, because I realize you’re already doing a sh¡tload of work here — but I’d love to see some dates and other fact(oid)s mixed in with your fun take on the characters. For example: When did Luke Cage first appear? Compared to Black Lightning’s first appearance (I’m presuming he was DC’s first black hero in his own title)? That sorta stuff would add some excellent context. For those of us who are, well, too lazy to look it up ourselves.

One of my favorite superhero confrontations was when Luke Cage and Spider-Man beat the crap out of each in Amazing Spider-Man #123. As a follow up to the “death” of Norman Osborn in the previous issue, J. Jonah Jameson hires Cage to go after Spidey. Wonderful artwork by Gil Kane and John Romita. A ballet of fisticuffs.

When did Luke Cage first appear? Compared to Black Lightning’s first appearance (I’m presuming he was DC’s first black hero in his own title)?

Sure, no problem. Cage first appeared in 1972 in Hero for Hire #1, seen above. He pre-dates Black Lightning by five years. Tony Isabella, creator of Black Lightning, was also one of the early writers for Luke Cage. I believe Cage was created by Archie Goodwin and either John Romita or George Tuska.

Was that Azarello Cage series any good?

They tried to hip-hop-ize him recently in that MAX mini, and I’m afraid that’s the direction they want to go in the proposed movie. No way, man. A Cage movie needs to be a 70’s period piece. The guy is Shaft meets Mr. T, only, you know, with the ability to be taken seriously.

Disagree! I don’t quite know what you mean by “hip-hop-ize,” since the series pretty much pulled Cage into the present day rather than the ’70s pastiche he’d been stuck in, but the Azz/Corben series was a pretty accurate look at how I see Luke Cage. He’s a guy who’s had life pretty much consistently crap on him, but he is going to soldier on and maintain his good heart.

He had a fade, too, which is something you don’t see enough in comics nowadays. I wear my hair at an even length all around (1/8″!) and haven’t worn a fade since I was a kid, but it’s nice to see in comics.

I take a brief look at Cage here if you’re interested, and my buddy goes into a Cage story that is pretty good and fairly obscure here!

I do wholly agree with Cage being on this list, though. He’s a great character.

Just for the record, I _loved_ yesterday’s entry. And today’s, too. And, in fact, all of them.

Part of the pleasure, and this certainly is the case with today’s entry, is knowing that a character (or creator) is going to wind up being a reason to love comics sometime during the year. It’s just a matter of when, and the anticipation is killing me.

If you’re still taking suggestions for future installments, I am eagerly awaiting the day that you put a spotlight on comics’s (and indeed the world’s) only multiplujillionaire. :-)

Sweet Christmas!

The CAGE miniseries sucked. It was really bad. You’d think Azzarello and Corben would turn out something good–no. Terrible art, barely readable, quasi-racist plotline.

And I *LOVE* 100 Bullets.

“… comics’s (and indeed the world’s) only multiplujillionaire.”

Would that be C. Montgomery Burns?

I didn’t care for the Cage mini either. And I’m a huge fan of 100 Bullets and Corben’s art.

What makes that panel so perfect is that it’s a completely accurate summary of the story around it. Luke Cage actually went all the way to Dr. Doom’s palace to collect $200.

Let’s not forget…he’s also got some major mojo. So much so, that even Austin Powers must bow down to him.

I call to your attention Marvel MAX’x Alias #1. And there we have our hero having (what appeared to be) rough a**l sex with Jessica.
Sweet Christmas, indeed.
And he must be “the best at what he does”…Jess became his baby’s mama.

As well as all of that (including what has already been said above), he’s also a regular commentator for Seanbaby’s Hostess Ads.
http://www.seanbaby.com/hostess.htm

Right on.

"O" the Humanatee!

February 21, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Super-strength? Check.
Tiara? Check.
Shiny metallic bracelets? Check.
Cleavage (well, wide open shirt)? Check.
Bondage theme (what do _you_ call a chain around your waist)? Check.

Man, Luke was really some kind of Wonder Woman wannabe, wasn’t he? I bet on the original version of that Power Man #17 cover, he had a word balloon saying, “Hola! Let’s play bullets and bracelets!”

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 21, 2007 at 7:08 pm

“What makes that panel so perfect is that it’s a completely accurate summary of the story around it. Luke Cage actually went all the way to Dr. Doom’s palace to collect $200. ”

Doesn’t he also stop a slave uprising in the process?

Robot slave uprising, baybee.

Actually, what struck me on reading the Essential Power Man is how influential Steve Englehart was–all of what we picture as “Luke Cage”, the jive talk, the “Sweet Christmas!”, et cetera, was really more Englehart than Goodwin. When Goodwin was writing the title, the blaxploitation element was there, but it was really more background than foreground.

(Anyone wanna relate this to Englehart’s taking over Captain America in the 70s and the way the Falcon became more politically conscious?)

What makes that panel so perfect is that it’s a completely accurate summary of the story around it. Luke Cage actually went all the way to Dr. Doom’s palace to collect $200.

Well, that’s $200 in 1970s money. Adjusted for inflation, I’m sure it’s closer to a couple of thousand dollars. But, yeah, I like the whole thing about how Cage won’t let anyone stiff him his fee, not even Doctor Doom.

the black man of steel!

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 2:51 pm

The Hero for Hire idea was an interesting one that didn’t get fully explored I thought. Cage was a typical product of the Blaxploitation genre. But like many characters from this genre he was still a cool dude!

A good artist would have made this series more popular.

Still, I’m surprised Cage got his own title while Black Panther didn’t get his unitl much later

Does anyine know where i can get a Luke Cage t- shirt

Does anyone know which comic is the “where’s my money, honey?” panel from?

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