Monday, October 03, 2016

Real Name: Luke Cage (formerly Carl Lucas)
First Appearance: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June, 1972)
Fight Club Ranking: #9

Featured Fights:
- vs EGGHEAD: Defenders #43 (Jan 1977)
- vs CONSTRICTOR & SABRETOOTH: Power Man & Iron Fist #66 (Dec 1980)
- vs UNUS THE UNTOUCHABLE: Power Man & Iron Fist #90 (Feb 1983)
- vs UNUS THE UNTOUCHABLE: Power Man & Iron Fist #90 (Feb 1983)
- vs THE UNTOUCHABLES: Cage #3 (Jun 1992)
- vs PURPLE MAN: New Avengers #3 (Mar 2005)
- vs OWL: The Pulse #14 (May 2006)
- vs AVENGERS: Civil War #3 (Sep 2006)
- vs THE HAND: New Avengers #27 (Apr 2007)
- vs MIGHTY AVENGERS: New Avengers #36 (Jan 2008)
- vs THE HOOD & DORMAMMU: New Avengers #54 (Aug 2009)
- vs AVENGERS: New Avengers #2 (Sep 2010)
- vs JUGGERNAUT: Thunderbolts #150 (Jan 2011)

As the star of the newest Marvel live-action series (September 30th): Luke Cage could've been Hero of the Week any number of times throughout 2016! He was one of the stand-out characters of July's San Diego Comic Con [see; Hero of the Week 7/25/2016], and continued to excite every time a new trailer revealed the yellow-tinted world of Netflix's bulletproof Defender! Sweet Christmas!

Star Mike Colter seems to bring a kinder, warmer edge to his version of Cage, but trailers show encouraging signs that when the time calls for it, his Power Man can get mad and bad. There are even whispers he'll find his way to a yellow shirt somewhere in the series, and trailers have already dropped an all mighty "Sweet Christmas". Pretty much everything this Luke Cage fan could ask for!

Like all the Marvel Netflix series, there are issues at first glance. An inherent cheapness in the hi-def look of all the shows challenges the notion of a "Golden Age" of TV. Low contrast, flat depth of field, straight-forward composition, with nothing too extraordinary happening in the frame - always something I'm a little saddened to see. The absence of aesthetic signature has been one of the great failings of Marvel's domination of movies and television -- low-budget without the charm of film stock, or film culture. That's certainly where Quentin Tarantino could've excelled with his long rumored, long aborted movie version -- raised again recently by Comic Book Resources.

It's not all doom and gloom, however. Luke Cage appears to be continuing the steps forward made by Jessica Jones, which particularly impressed when wielding a strong purple hue. Cage follows, imbuing the world with a golden glow that matches his signature color from the (classic) comics. Even when the hero chooses from a catalogue of low key hoodies when his gear gets shot up, there's an excitement in seeing yellow lining beneath the dark blue ensemble, and the slamming soundtrack.

Yellow is the color I'm personally most interested in when talking about the series, but there will be an inevitable wave of social commentaries coming out of the show, and I'm becoming aware of it.

I hadn't given much thought to the poignancy of a bulletproof African-American walking troubled streets, but whether we live in America or not, we all read the same headlines, wondering about social tensions with the same human concern.

If you were setting out to create a brand-new American superhero for today's adult contemporary audiences -- this is exactly the territory you'd start with! Over the past few years, America has made social anxiety and race politics one of their major cultural exports. Superheroes have always been good for offering an outlet for exploring social issues such as these. The plight of violent police corruption and bigotry - combatted by a good man who cannot be shot -  presents a bold and appealing mirror image of the reality some parts of the world face.

Yet, in Luke Cage, I don't get the sense these issues will take central focus, and I think it's better for it. In the eighties and nineties, I grew up taking the pairing of Power Man & Iron Fist for granted. Just two friends and heroes trying to make a positive difference in the fictional world. One was super-strong and tough, the other a kung-fu whiz. To paraphrase the educators of Sesame Street, they were just 'heroes in the neighbourhood.' Part of the landscape the heroes all share. Which is the value Luke Cage and all these heroes will have into the future.

Of course, not all superheroes are created equal - and if you've been following Secret Wars on Infinite Earths in the month of September, you know our spotlight on Luke Cage has pushed him into the Top 10 rankings! If you wanna know how that happened, be sure to scroll back to the top of this entry to check out all the featured fights!

Next year Luke Cage's buddy Iron Fist joins the Netflix heroes, before they converge as one in The Defenders! If you can't wait for that, be sure to check out our Luke Cage & The Defenders spotlight for more fun with the Marvel Knights! Stay tuned in October as well as the fights get spooky!

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