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.
51. Luke Cage
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.
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.
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?
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:
I rest my case.
Sweet Christmas, friends.