Certainly nothin’ “to-you-know-what” with, if we are quoting iconic Hip-Hop. But while we’re on the subject, let’s address the fact that Luke Cage is indeed Marvel’s central figure of Hip-Hop culture, and based on the trailers that we’ve seen, hyping us up for the release of his show tomorrow, we can expect his series to encapsulate that with raw accuracy. The rundown of his story is simple, yet compelling all the same.
Luke Cage was first released in Hero for Hire #1 in 1972, and was the second black hero created, preceded only by Black Panther, and the first black hero to have his own book. Born to the name Carl Lucas, Cage is from the rough streets of Harlem. In his adolescent years he led a gang called the Rivals with a friend named Willis Stryker. However, in growth and maturation he decided to turn from that path and lead a life untainted by crime. Of course, getting out the game isn’t as simple as one might hope and, when Willis, who is still involved, needs help, Luke comes to his aid. Unfortunately, Willis Strkyer’s girlfriend, Reva Conner, ends up breaking up with him, due to fear of this dangerous lifestyle, and finds herself with feelings for Cage. We know this doesn’t end well.
Stryker becomes jealous, and frames Luke Cage by planting drugs in his apartment. While in prison Luke sulks, angered by the fact that he was falsely imprisoned, with no way to prove his innocence. While there, he is offered to partake a volatile scientific experiment (meant to increase cellular regeneration, based on a Super Soldier Serum variant), by Dr. Noah Burnstien, in exchange for reducing his jail time. While in the machine that would perform the procedure, a hateful meddling prison guard (Albert Rackham), messes with the controls, causing the machine to overload. The result? Of course… Super Powers. In his case, super strength, and most notably, impenetrable skin. He uses these abilities to break out of jail and take the name Luke Cage, becoming a Hero for Hire. Through a troublesome series of events Luke Cage is finally exonerated and proven innocent for his crimes. I’ll stop here, because comic book origins can get extensive, and my real purpose for this “day prior” post was not to go through his history myself, but to get folks reading.
With that being said, I’d like to point out a few ionic stories, that focus on Luke Cage and really encapsulate him as a character. First, I’d like the get Power Man and Iron Fist volume 1 out of the way. The run does capture much of Luke’s history, but when I don’t list it in the following, it is not because I’ve forgotten about it. It’s because it’s 125 issues long! The following are bite sized pieces that you can whip out your phones, tablets, or Kindle and purchase digitally, or take a quick trip to your comic book store and grab in hand, and actually read before the premiere tomorrow. I recommend these only now, the day before, so that you can binge read, have it fresh on your mind, and then binge watch Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix tomorrow!
Avenger’s Origins: Luke Cage One Shot
Cop it. This is an updated rehashing of his origin story by Adam Glass and Mike Benson. Slight changes, still excellent.
Luke Cage Noir
What happens when after all these years, Luke Cage steps foot back in Harlem? A grungy depiction of the reality of Luke Cage’s past. Also by Adam Glass and Mike Benson.
Explicit! Parental Advisory! I’m serious! Don’t even let your kid open the first page. But you need to read this! Unadulterated Luke Cage by Brian Azzarello.
Power Man and Iron Fist (2016)
This is their current run, and I promise you ladies and gentleman it is absolutely delightful. It is a step away from some of the grittier books, but is still oh, so real. I recommend you pick it up and add it to your list at your local shop. Support black books by black teams! This is written by David Walker with art by Sanford Greene! List it!
There are others such as Heroes for Hire, and the 1992 Cage run, but for the sake of actually being able to binge realistically, the above is your best bet. Read up and get ready for the premiere!