Art by Mike Deodato Jr.
Young Carl Lucas struggled to survive in his hometown of Harlem. To try to make ends meet for himself and his family, he started running with gangs. Despite committing numerous crimes, he was never willing to cross the line of murder. However, he was framed for a killing was arrested. As a means of getting let out early, he signed up for an experiment that Seagate Prison was conducting on its inmates. The experiment went wrong, but Carl Lucas emerged with super strength and unbreakable skin. He escaped and changed his name, becoming Luke Cage, the Power Man!
Still needing a means to live, Luke Cage set up a Hero for Hire business in New York. People would pay him when they were in trouble, and Luke would take care of that trouble.
In his earliest cases as a Hero for Hire, Power Man took down rogues such as Black Mariah, Gideon Mace, and Cottonmouth (not the Serpent Society one, a different Cottonmouth). He was even hired by Doctor Doom himself to dispose of rogue Doombots running around New York. However, Doom skipped town before paying his debt (no joke). Power Man then borrowed a jet from the Fantastic Four to go to Latveria, and he (still not joking) beat the tar out of Doctor Doom until he paid his $200 debt. I love comic books.
He joined up with the Defenders for some time, and he was also asked to replace the Thing on the Fantastic Four on a short stint.
Luke Cage met up with another hero named Iron Fist while pursuing a case against a villain called Bushmaster (again, not the Bushmaster that is on the Serpent Society). After teaming up to bring down the criminal, Power Man and Iron Fist united to become the greatest partnership in comic books. Period. End. Stop. Hands down. They are the best dynamic duo.
The two became Heroes for Hire together. They also befriended fellow New York super heroes Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the Daughters of the Dragon.
Luke Cage and Danny Rand fought villains like Scimitar, the Plunderer, and Constrictor. They took to being small-time heroes, only fighting threats that involved their home turf. They left the world-class villains to the likes of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.
After some time working together, Iron Fist was apparently killed, and Luke Cage was blamed for the death. He escaped to Chicago. After he was absolved of the crime, he started a new Hero for Hire business in the Windy City and began going by Cage. He worked with the Chicago Spectator and brought down villains like the Rhino, Nitro the Exploding Man, and Hardcore. He even ran across Dr. Noah Burstein, the man who gave Cage his powers, creating more Power Men. He also found out his father, whom Luke believed had died while he was in prison, was still alive and living with Luke’s brother.
He also discovered Iron Fist was still alive, and, after some time alone, Luke and Danny restarted the Heroes for Hire business. The two expanded the organization and worked under Namor’s Oracle Incorporated. They enlisted Ant-Man, Hercules, White Tiger, and She-Hulk for the team. They were one of the only lines of defense when the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men were brought into Counter Earth after battling the creature Onslaught.
Luke was also asked to join a team organized by Moon Knight called the Marvel Knights. However, the team quickly crumbled.
He began a romantic relationship with P.I Jessica Jones. After some time, Luke discovered that Jessica was pregnant with his child. The two would later marry, and they are still together in current comic books.
After the Avengers crumbled, Luke Cage was one of the heroes that responded when the Raft prison of super criminals busted open. He was offered a membership in a New Avengers team started by Captain America and Iron Man for this act, and he accepted.
Luke Cage was also a number of heroes recruited by Nick Fury to partake in a stealth strike against Latverian Prime Minister Lucia von Bardas. The battle became a disaster, and there was massive collateral damage. Nick Fury wiped the memory of the event from the heroes’ minds, worrying they would go public with it.
When the Superhuman Registration Act was passed, Luke Cage was one of the first heroes to support Captain America’s fight against registration. He worked as Cap’s second-in-command throughout the conflict. When Captain America surrendered and was killed, Luke started an underground New Avengers team to fight against Iron Man’s Initiative as well as continuing to fight crime. He held the team together against the Hood’s army of criminals and assaults by Ms. Marvel’s Mighty Avengers.
He led the team through the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion of Earth and Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign. Luke was briefly turned over to Osborn when his heart began developing problems and the New Avengers couldn’t treat him. His heart was healed, but Osborn manipulated him into working with his covert Thunderbolts team. However, he and Iron Fist were able to escape before long.
When Registration was repealed and Steve Rogers became the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Luke Cage was able to continue to lead his New Avengers as a public team.
He continued to with the team through further threats, such as Norman Osborn’s return with a new Dark Avengers, the Asgardian God of Fear’s assault on Earth, and the Avengers’ war with the X-Men.
He was also tasked by Steve Rogers to lead his own Thunderbolts team stationed out of the Raft. He brought the gang of ex-villains into line, and they were instrumental in stopping the Juggernaut from destroying Chicago when he was controlled by a hammer given to him by the Asgardian God of Fear.
When the Avengers restructured after the war with the X-Men, Luke brought things back to basics and established a new Mighty Avengers team. He kept the membership small and responded to help through a hotline. They helped stop the extradimensional Beyond Corporation and the otherworldly demon called Shuma-Gorath.
When a villain called Midas used an eye of the murdered Watcher, Uatu, to awaken dormant memories in many heroes, Luke discovered that his father had actually worked with heroes before Luke was born. His father worked with a small-time Avengers-like team with the vampire hunter Blade and the sorcerer Kaluu, both of whom were working with Luke on his Mighty Avengers team at that point.
After the Secret Wars event, Luke took a break from the hero business. However, after he and Iron Fist were asked to help their former secretary Jenny Royce, the two restarted the Heroes for Hire business once again, and that is what Luke and Danny are doing to this day.
Luke Cage is a hero with one of the most fascinating character arcs in comics, turning from angry mercenary, to strong partner, to even angrier mercenary, to Avenger and father. He started off as an archetypal tough guy and has become a responsible and caring husband, father, and leader. He can still play the tough guy, and, when pushing the right buttons, you can get the angry Luke Cage out again.
He’s a very layered character and isn’t restricted to one mode of behavior like many A-List super heroes. He’s allowed to be happy, he’s allowed to be angry, and he’s allowed to have a sense of humor. He’s also the epitome of an ever-man super hero. He has troubles making ends meet, he has a family that he has to help support, and he has a best friend whom he tries to work with as much as possible.
Luke Cage is an engaging, relatable, and very endearing hero. He has a will of iron and a heart of gold. He will fight to the bitter end to protect those he loves, and he won’t refuse to kick someone’s ass for threatening those people. These are the reasons that Luke Cage, Power Man has made it to the Number Two slot of my Top 10 Favorite Marvel Heroes.
Further Adventures of Luke Cage: