Luke Cage

Carl Lucas. Power Man. Hero for hire.

Luke Cage doesn’t bother with a fancy costume. He doesn’t wear a cape. He doesn’t hide behind a mask. He’s a simple guy with a simple goal: protect the innocent by keeping the streets of New York free of crime. And his bulletproof skin makes easy work of that.

Harlem Kid

Born and raised in Harlem as Carl Lucas, Cage wasn’t always the hero that he would become later in life. As a young member of a street gang, he was surrounded by violence and dreamed of becoming a top racketeer in the city. Despite his misdeeds and connections to crime, Carl maintained a polite disposition—especially in the presence of his beloved grandmother. Instead of expressing his shock or anger with language strictly forbidden by his grandma, he took to phrases like “Sweet Christmas!” which would eventually become his trademark slogan.

After realizing that his criminal activities were hurting his family, Carl sought legitimate employment. He left the underworld, but kept in touch with his friend and fellow gang member, Willis Stryker. When Stryker was nearly killed in a botched mob hit, his girlfriend, Reva Connors, broke up with him and pursued a relationship with the seemingly more stable Carl.

Jealous, humiliated, and seeking revenge, Stryker planted drugs in Carl’s apartment, which were then found by authorities who arrested Carl for the crime. Sentenced to 20 years in Seagate Prison (A.K.A. “Little Alcatraz”), Lucas initially took to the tough culture of the jail, but soon began to direct his focus on studying legal books in the hopes of clearing his name.

Luke becoming the Hero for Hire

Despite clashing with new nemeses—like the sadistic prison guard Albert “Billy Bob” Rackham—Carl eventually found a friend in an experimental scientist named Doctor Noah Burstein. Burstein enlisted the inmate for an experiment meant to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that gave Captain America his abilities—though Burstein was more interested in curing diseases than creating a warrior. When the doctor began the experiment, submerging Lucas in an electrical field conducted by the organic chemical compound acetovaxidol, Billy Bob Rackham snuck in and tampered with the controls. But, instead of killing the prisoner as he intended, the guard’s interference enhanced Carl’s body, giving him the super strength and durability that he would go on to utilize throughout his crime fighting career.

After flexing his new superhuman abilities to escape from the prison, Lucas returned to New York City where he prevented a diner robbery, prompting the diner owner to pay him for his trouble. This moment of goodwill inspired Carl Lucas to become a hero for hire and drop his given name in favor of an alias. Inspired by his last name and the prison ordeal that changed his life, Carl Lucas became Luke Cage.

Power Man

Now in full command of his powers, Luke’s superhuman strength allowed him to lift thousands of pounds and punch through four-inch thick steel. His skin also proved to be impervious to bullets, thanks to the incredibly dense muscle tissues created by the experiment. Luke Cage—immune to explosions, extreme temperatures, and electric shocks—also had the ability to recover from a rare injury three times faster than the average human. Plus, due to his formative years as a gang member, Luke’s powerful hand-to-hand combat skills confirmed his status as a Super Hero.

Luke Cage in action

Underground Enemies

Once settled back in New York, Cage established a hero for hire business and began to take jobs. Settling into his new life as Luke Cage, Hero for Fire, he began dating a nurse named Claire Temple, though his resolve was given its first real test when he came into conflict with his old friend, Willis Stryker. Stryker—now known as the super villain Diamondback—became a high-ranking member of a crime syndicate during Cage’s time in jail. Seeking to bring down his former friend, Diamondback kidnapped Claire and developed special knives strong enough to pierce Luke’s skin. As Diamondback and Luke Cage fought, the villain refused to admit to the framing job that put Carl Lucas in jail, and as the rampage reached its end, Diamondback fell through a skylight and died from wounds caused by the very weapons he crafted to take down his foe.

Other early Luke Cage adversaries included the militant Gideon Mace, the acrobatic Armand Loring, and the gang leader Black Mariah. Mace, a crazed war veteran with a vendetta against the U.S. government, planned to rob a few Wall Street banks—but was foiled when Cage got the call to stop him, subsequently causing the villain’s getaway helicopter to crash into the Hudson River.

Armand Loring, the son of a theater chain owner, Adrian Loring, used his small stature to become an acrobat and thief. After joining forces with a circus strongman named Jacques, the two became known as the 42nd Street Phantom, and began terrorizing local theaters and businesses. Cage, hired to take care of the duo, garnered unwanted media attention for his work when Daily Bugle columnist Phil Fox began investigating the hero’s background.

Black Mariah, the leader of a phony ambulance gang that absconded with dead bodies and stripped them of their valuables, proved to be a difficult villain for Cage to deal with. While he had no difficulty beating up her henchmen, he felt conflicted about engaging in combat with a woman. When Luke finally caught Mariah and her gang in the middle of committing a crime, he busted their operation and smashed her getaway vehicle.

Luke Cage teaming up with Iron Fist

Cage attracted the eye of another Daily Bugle employee—J. Jonah Jameson. The publisher, looking to capture his nemesis, Spider-Man, hired Cage to do the job. Though, knowing what it was like to be accused of crimes he didn’t commit, Luke ended up befriending Peter Parker, returning the deposit—and putting his name onto Jameson’s long list of hated heroes.

Later, Cage adopted the hero name of Power Man. Unaware that the codename was actually already in use by Avengers villain Erik Josten, Cage ended up fighting the baddie for the right to use the title.

Even Doctor Doom made an enemy out of Cage when he hired the Power Man to do a job and then skipped town without paying him his $200 fee. How did Luke exact his revenge? He broke into the Baxter Building (the HQ of the Fantastic Four), stole a plane, invaded Doom’s castle, and beat up the villain while delivering one of the most epic lines in his history: “This is a sample of my fist.” Bottom line? Make sure to pay Mr. Cage.

City Colleagues

Throughout his Super Hero career, Luke Cage has joined various teams as a member of the Avengers, the Defenders, Misty Knight’s Nightwing Restorations, and even as the Thing’s temporary replacement. Most notably, however, he has teamed up throughout the years with his best friend Danny Rand (A.K.A. The Iron Fist). Luke joined Danny as crime fighting partners in and was even once blamed for Rand’s murder after Captain Hero, a young boy who could transform into a full-grown Super Hero, killed the Iron Fist in his sleep. Luke, broken from the loss, went on the run and didn’t re-appear for three years.

Luke taking out a gang

The next—and perhaps best-known—chapter of Luke Cage’s life began in the pages of ALIAS. The series, which starred private investigator Jessica Jones, introduced Luke to a woman who proved to be just as tough as he was. Their tumultuous relationship—at times defined by romance, at times defined by conflict—began in ALIAS before extending across titles throughout the Marvel Universe. After Jessica gave birth to their child, Danielle, Cage and Jones married.




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Universe, Other Aliases, Education, Place of Origin, Identity, Known Relatives, Powers, Group Affiliation
  • Universe

  • Other Aliases

  • Education

  • Place of Origin

  • Identity

  • Known Relatives

  • Powers

  • Group Affiliation

History of the Hero for Hire

Cage, a charismatic figure with a pragmatic mind, reached new heights as a hero when he joined the New Avengers in 2005. His loyalties to the super community were put to the test during the events of Civil War as heroes everywhere were split between supporting or opposing the Superhuman Registration Act. Cage, mindful of his turbulent past with the government, ultimately sided with Captain America in his fight against the law.

Emerging from his run with the New Avengers, Cage finally received the leadership position he always seemed suited to hold when he became the commander of the Mighty Avengers in 2007. Leading a team that included Blade, Spectrum, a younger Power Man named Victor Alvarez, the White Tiger, and the Blue Marvel, Luke dished out his signature brand of justice on a bigger scale than ever before.

Most recently, Luke Cage’s past came back to haunt him in the pages of his solo series, in which the death of Dr. Noah Burstein caused him to travel to Louisiana, so he could attend the funeral of the man who originally gave him his powers. However, Burstein was also a father-figure to Luke who may not have known the doctor as well as he thought he did. Burstein’s passing opens up a mystery of enigmatic billionaires, femme fatales, and dangerous gangs.

Luke looking for his daughter

After this arc, Luke was re-imprisoned at the hands of the villain called Ringmaster. Elsewhere, Cage continued his not-so domestic duties in support of his wife and daughter in JESSICA JONES, as the family came under siege once again by Jessica’s greatest foe, the Purple Man. Jones and Cage’s relationship also influences events in DEFENDERS, as the couple joins Daredevil and Iron Fist to collectively fight a criminal underworld threatening to overpower their home, New York City.

fighting skills