My favourite Avenger: Luke Cage
By: Jake Weatherill
Ola peeps. Sweet Christmas. It’s good to be back! Unsubtle hints, gotta love ‘em, right? A few years ago for Black History Month I gave you a royal profile of everyone’s favourite King, T’Challa AKA The Black Panther. So far this year I have given you revolution. So the question is where next? To outer space mayhaps? Or maybe to the distant past? Or a shining future? All are tempting but, and I admit it might be the Londoner in me making me bias here, what about the bright lights and the big city. Going down to the streets. Because that’s where we find my favourite Avenger. A man with unbreakable skin to match his steely resolve and determination. The Power Man, Carl Lucas. But you might know him by a different name. Luke Cage.
While Cage has been something of a cult character throughout his history, this cult status has been key to driving him from the man in a yellow open chested shirt and metal tiara to one of Marvel’s most enduring modern icons. From fringe comic character to having his own series as part of Marvel’s collaboration with Netflix. For me though there is something incredibly endearing about Cage, his character and his story. This is a man who will ultimately lead multiple Avengers teams, so here’s why Luke Cage is my FAVOURITE Avenger.
Before we start I can hear some of you going ‘Uh but Jake, Luke Cage isn’t an Avenger. He’s a Defender. So there.’ And to those people I say, read a comic! More specifically New Avengers Vol. 1, issue 1-5 AKA Breakout. And then beg for your existence for daring to question me humbly apologise for questioning my knowledge let me know what you think.
Anyway, back to your scheduled programming. I have a therapist to deal with my psychotic breaks issues. Cage starts life as the aforementioned Carl Lucas, growing up in the mean streets of Harlem New York. In his early days Lucas runs with various gangs, engaging in petty crime and making a reputation for himself. Upon a realisation of the damage his life path is inflicting on his family Lucas decides to go legit, although still holds close friendships with many in the criminal underworld. This still existent connection, however, ultimately leads to Lucas being imprisoned after one of his more questionable associates plants drugs in his flat.
After numerous attempts to break out of prison to escape being locked up for a crime he didn’t commit he is transferred to Seagate prison in Georgia, where Doctor Noah Burstein offers Lucas a chance to take part in an experiment that Burstein is overseeing, and distantly related to the experiments that lead to the creation of The Super Soldier Serum that gives Steve Rogers his enhanced physique and abilities. But Seagate’s racist ex-warden (who blames Lucas for his demotion) interferes, ramping up the controls in an attempt to overwhelm Lucas’ physiology. Instead, what happens is Lucas develops super strength and durability. Breaking out from his squalid confines into the cool air outside Carl Lucas dies that night, and Luke Cage is born.
Cage’s early career sees him working as a Hero for Hire, and largely taking on common criminals, and crossing paths with some of his former more *ahem* questionable acquaintances. Cage stands out from his super powered colleagues, and largely keeps his distance from them until a desicion to chase up Doctor Doom for a missed payment leads to an encounter with The Fantastic Four. Slowly but surely Cage is pulled into the world of capes, being recruited by the Defenders, and forging one of his most enduring friendships, his iconic partnership with Danny Rand, aka The Immortal Iron Fist. Also, at this time he starts to form a relationship of sorts with the heroine Jewel, more properly known as Jessica Jones, Cage’s future wife.
Cage would step up to the big time at the invitation of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark personally, having helped them, Spider-Man, Spiderwoman, Sentry and Daredevil in his civilian guise put down a prison break at The Raft and join The New Avengers. Really this is the point where you can argue Cage goes from cult character to Marvel Heavyweight. Under the writing of Brian Michael Bendis Cage morphs from the man of pithy one liners and iconic catchphrases to one of the leading members of the Superhero community. This is really underlined in the post-Civil War marvel universe as Cage in essence replaces Captain America as the leader of The New Avengers, a now underground, unregistered superhero team resisting Iron Man’s new registration status quo. Even then it seems like he has been more of a reluctant leader, someone who doubts their own credentials, and ultimately hands leadership over to Clint Barton in the aftermath of Secret Invasion. But it is clear that even if Cage is unsure of his own outstanding personal qualities others definitely are more than aware of them.
This is underlined beautifully in the new Heroic Age that sees Steve Rogers being appointed “America’s Top Cop” and giving Cage command of his own Avengers team, free of Rogers’ oversight. Not only that but he is given leadership of The Thunderbolts, a team of villains trying to be heroes. Cage will rise so high that in the end he becomes Mayor of New York.
So why is Cage me favourite Avenger? Besides the pithy one-liners, Cage maybe embodies what it means to be an Avenger better than most. A man who was framed for a crime he didn’t commit and ultimately used as guinea pig in an attempt to replicate the success of the Super Soldier program, has risen above adversity. Despite seemingly exuding confidence its clear Cage is wracked by self-doubt, and questions his own abilities. But the man with unbreakable skin has an unbreakable resolve, and a bullet proof soul. Cage rises against adversity again and again to prove he is one of the most inspiring characters Marvel have created. If I can sum up Cage, it would be this. During The Collective arc Cage takes the New Avengers to do impact Superhero work, and gives a TV interview, exuding charisma and resolve. We cut away to Iron Man and Captain America in conversation.
“He’s very good at this.”
“Yes, and he doesn’t even realise it.”
And coming from two of the most iconic Avengers, what else is there to say?
To read any of the books featured in our blog please search the following:
Library catalogue (to order books to your branch)
Libby for ebooks, audiobooks and comics (available as an app)
Borrowbox for ebooks and audiobooks (available as an app)