The Hidden S in Phone Booth

Luke Cage is a Bad Mother^%$*@! Luke Cage, also known less frequently as Power Man, was an African-American superhero influenced hugely by the Blaxploitation films of the early 70's. The character, first created by John Romita, Jr. and Archie Goodwin for Marvel, had his first appearance in 1972's Luke Cage: Hero For Hire #1 (arguably the first black superhero to headline his own book). The character was originally named Carl Lucas and was a mispent youth and young adulthood bouncing around the legal system. Ultimately, Lucas ended up in prison and volunteered to be part of an experimental program which would grant him immunity to illness. Ultimately, the experiment went better than expected and gave Lucas super strength and near invunerability. Lucas escaped from Prison and took up the Moniker "Luke Cage" and put out a shingle as a "Hero For Hire," becoming a kind of "Private Eye on Steroids." In time, Cage teamed with the martial arts superhero Iron Fist to form one of the more high-profile superhero duos of the 70's. (Iron Fist was Marvel's response to the early 70's martial arts craze). Luke Cage was undoubtably a figure of black empowerment in the early 70's, but his legacy is nonetheless a mixed one. Many of the early Luke Cage comics trafficked in over the top African-American slang which seemed dated almost automiatically ("Sweet Christmas" was a favorite expression). As with many superheroes, Cage was a more striking creation than an enduring superhero. He has had several brushes with some of the great superheroes like Spider-man (J. Jonah Jameson hired Cage to capture Spidey) as well as the Fantastic Four (whom he met while trying to collect a debt from Doctor Doom!). In time, Cage formed an alliance with the dysfunctional super team the Defenders. Cage has had many incarnations in the nearly forty years of his existence. As was said earlier, the legacy of Luke Cage is complicated. His Yellow disco shirt and headband have not aged all that well, but he is more of a great figure in comics than his other breathern like Black Panther and Blade. Why? Who Knows? Pop culture is often a mystery. Characters in comics are often just thrown out there with no particular sense of longevity or agenda. Many of these characters fall by the wayside but some like Luke Cage transcend some of the day-in, day-out hackiness of mainstream comics.... Next week: Blade: the Vampire Slayer