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Comic Book: Luke Cage: Hero for Hire
Sweet Christmas!
"You're right, Stryker. I lost my way. I lost my humanity. I forgot who I was...but then something happened — Something I didn't expect — I was reborn!"

Luke Cage, alias Power Man, is a Marvel Comics superhero, originally created as part of the 1970s blaxploitation craze. He first appeared in "Hero for Hire" #1 (June, 1972), created by writers Archie Goodwin and Roy Thomas, along with artists John Romita, Sr. and George Tuska.

Luke's original name was Carl Lucas, and he grew up on the streets of Harlem. Convicted of a crime he didn't commit, he was offered a chance at parole if he'd participate in a prison experiment on cell regeneration. The experiment was sabotaged by a prison guard with a grudge against Lucas, granting him super strength and nigh invulnerability. Traumatised by the experiment, Lucas lashed out at the guard, then, fearing that his lash-out would see him losing parole, made a break for it. Returning to New York, he was inspired to become a 'hero for hire', helping out anyone who could pay his price, and adopted the pseudonym "Luke Cage".

He originally had his own solo title, known as "Hero for Hire" for 16 issues (June, 1972-December, 1973), then as "Power Man" for issues #17-49 (February, 1974-February, 1978). In issue #50, Luke was teamed up with Iron Fist. The series continued as "Power Man and Iron Fist" for issues #50-125 (April, 1978- September, 1986). With its cancellation, Luke was left with no regular series for a few years. He returned to stardom with "Cage" vol. 1, which ran for 20 issues (April, 1992-November, 1993). "Cage" vol. 2 was a 5-issue miniseries (March-September, 2002) by Brian Azzarello. In 2005, Luke joined the New Avengers and has been a regular ever since. In this period Luke married Alias star Jessica Jones. They have a daughter, Danielle. After Dark Reign Luke became the man in charge of the Thunderbolts up through the end of the series.

Luke and his Hero For Hire days have inspired a number of other heroes - one has taken up Luke's old "Power-Man" name, and several others have created an entire team devoted to this way of heroism, Heroes for Hire.


Comics
  • Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (1972)
  • Power Man (1974)
  • Power Man and Iron Fist (1978)
  • Cage Vol. 1 (1992)
  • Heroes for Hire (1997)
  • Cage Vol. 2 (2002)
  • Luke Cage Noir (2009)
  • New Avengers: Luke Cage (2010)
  • Mighty Avengers (2013)

Live-Action TV
  • Untitled Luke Cage Series
  • Untitled Defenders Series

Western Animation

Video Games


Comics featuring Luke Cage provide examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: When Bendis' New Avengers run ended, he quit to take care of his family. Now he's back as the leader of the new roster of the Mighty Avengers.
  • Bad Ass: Hey, if one of your achievements is beating down Doctor Doom (and not a Doom-bot) by attacking his chest repeatedly, revealing that Doom's armor cannot take continuous sustained damage in a single area, all for the sake of getting back $200, you gotta BE badass.
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: As the leader of the Thunderbolts and New Avengers.
  • Bash Brothers: Cage and Iron Fist.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Back in the day, he strongly objected to being called a mercenary.
    • If you want to get messed up real quick, try messing with his family.
    • Do not run out on a debt you owe him. See Badass for details.
  • The Big Guy: Works well as the heavy hitter for any team he's on, and when he teamed with Iron Fist.
  • Blaxploitation: One of the premiere examples in comics. Cage more or less embraces it, though.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Rarely does he miss the chance to trash talk and punctuate them between punching.
  • Brains and Brawn: When he works with Iron Fist, he's the brawn, Fist is the brains.
  • Cain and Abel: Cage and his brother Coldfire.
  • Catch Phrase: SWEET CHRISTMAS!
    • Usually shortened to simply "Christmas!" He also threw around "Sweet Sister!" a lot early on.
  • Chained by Fashion: Often wore a chain belt.
  • Civvie Spandex: His old costume was mostly just chains and metal bands around a shirt and pants. Since that time, he hasn't worn a costume at all.
  • Determinator:
    • Never mind the fact he'll keep fighting, he just would not stop giving money to a coffee machine that kept screwing up his orders. Ever.
    • You should never... ever... ever try to run out on a debt to Luke. As referenced under the Bad Ass entry: Dr. Doom tried and it resulted in Luke bum rushing the Baxter Building to 'borrow' a Fantasticar (clobbering the Thing in the process), flying himself all the way to Latveria and beating Doom like a rented mule. This was all over a matter of $200. "Where's my money, Honey?" has on occasion been referred to as the four scariest words in the Marvel Universe.
  • Disney Villain Death: Many issues of Luke Cage: Hero For Hire and Luke Cage: Power Man ended with the villains falling from great heights. Mr. Fish, Steeplejack, and Lionmane all met their end this way. It *almost* happened to Gideon Mace too.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!:
    • Cage used his catchphrase "sweet Christmas!" in place of profanity because his grandmother didn't like him swearing, and by his account, she was way meaner and tougher than any of the villains he fought.
    • Avrted in his later incarnations.
    SWEET F**KING CHRISTMAS!
  • Happily Married: With Jessica Jones
  • Hero Does Public Service: A 2000s anti-smoking miniseries that crossed over with Spider-Man and X-Men opened with Cage coaching a high school track team. He got embroiled in a plot involving organized crime and illegal casinos when he went to investigate why his star player, Brett, suddenly wasn't doing so hot.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Cage and Daniel Rand, aka Iron Fist. Luke even named his daughter Danielle after him.
    • He also had this sort of friendship with Spider-Man when they both were part of the New Avengers.
  • Honor Before Reason: Despite being broke, without insurance, and with a baby to support, Luke flat out refuses a stipend from Steve Rogers and S.H.I.E.L.D. because he was promised that the New Avengers would be totally autonomous. Jessica immediately calls him out on this.
  • Immune to Bullets: One of his powers from the prison experiment is this trope.
  • Insistent Terminology: He most definitely did not ever wear a tiara. It was a headband. Head. Band.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: After that monstrosity, it's no surprise he's one of the most famous Civvie Spandex guys today. The likes of Deadpool and Spider-Man love reminding the poor guy about it.
  • Jive Turkey: Like we said, joker, he first appeared in the seventies.
    • It gets funny when he gets a hold of Mjolnir in an early What If?:
      By the gleamin' gates of funky Asgard, you suckers are gonna eat hammer!
  • Legacy Character: Hispanic teen Vic Alvarez, who took up the 'Power Man' name on the grounds Luke wasn't using it anymore.
    • Luke himself took the name from the villainous Power Man (Erik Josten, now better known as Atlas from the Thunderbolts).
    • Jessica Jones also goes by "Power Woman" when she isn't Jewel, Knightress, or whatever the hell else she goes by.
  • Likes Older Women: A gag in New Avengers was that he and Ann-Marie Hoag of Damage Control once had a fling.
  • Logical Weakness: Having super-tough skin makes dealing with internal injuries difficult, to say the least; it's near impossible to perform surgery. Has a good Healing Factor though, so that helps.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Spoofed in one issue of New Avengers, where Luke tries to convince Jessica to use "Power Woman" as her superhero name. ("You married me. Take the name." "But I'm my own person." "Who's married to me.")
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: When the new Power Man shows up and is initially antagonistic towards Luke, he suggests that Luke's less of a black man for having married a white woman. Punching ensues.
  • Only Sane Man: When the rest of the group either gets a little TOO gung-ho or a little TOO pacifist, he lets his opinion be known that they're acting a mite off.
    • An exception during Secret Invasion when Cage willingly took the bait and engaged both Avengers teams in a battle with their Skrull copycats in the Savage Land (while New York was concurrently burning to the ground) because his doppleganger annoyed him. This was despite the fact that Ares, God of War, was very clear that this was a very deliberate waste of time and that they should retreat immediately.
  • Papa Wolf: You put his child in danger, good luck surviving the rest of the day.
  • Rated M for Manly: A tough and muscular guy that stomps on criminals for money.
  • Reaching Towards The Audience: Frequently has his fist in the foreground of official art.
  • Really Gets Around: Apparently has had relations with Tigra, Black Cat, Jessica Drew and She-Hulk. Ms Marvel once joked that he was known as a habitual "cape chaser."
  • Running Gag: In the 70s and 80s he had a coffee machine that always got his order wrong. Clearly a God was behind it because the one time it got his order right, Cage slipped and dropped his drink. And when it was getting replaced the new one got smashed very quickly.
    • Subtler one — can you name any of his old comics that didn't feature him losing his shirt? Or his office getting trashed? Likewise, can you name any of the newer comics he's in that don't feature him losing his shit?
  • Salt and Pepper: With Iron Fist.
  • Scary Black Man: Even though he grew up in the 'hood and had the mentality, he's fully aware of the stereotypes and acknowledges them.
  • Secret Public Identity: He didn't use Power Man for long and even when he did, it was more of a nickname since everyone knew him as Luke Cage and he obviously did not wear a mask. While Luke Cage was not his birth name, it did eventually become his legal name.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Cage bears the brunt of being one of Brian Michael Bendis' big favorites, thus he often takes a lot of roles in Bendis' series such as Alias and Daredevil where he eventually snagged a major supporting character slot. Also, he's the current Mighty Avengers leader.
    • Despite Iron Fist being his lifemate, Spider-Man and Cage often come across as this in New Avengers.
  • Super Strength: His defining power. Over the years, Depending on the Writer, his strength level was anywhere between Spider-Man's or the Hulk's.
  • Symbol Swearing: A modern staple of Luke's.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine:
    • Luke Cage, Power Man, had a Running Gag feud with the coffee machine at the local police station based on its supposedly hostile behavior.
    • The soda machine at his old office. Clearly, Luke had no luck with crazy vending machines.
  • Villain Respect: From Doctor Doom, during the above-mentioned quest for the $200. After Cage has first beaten him in a fair fight, then turned around and saved his life from an enemy trying to take advantage of his weakened state, and all the while kept insisting that he's only there to demand his fair wage, Doom finally pays up willingly and with a grudging compliment.
    Doctor Doom: You have amply earned my respect this day, and it is more difficult to obtain than my funds - which are not easy to obtain! Take what you say I owe you - and then go!
  • We Help the Helpless: There's a reason he called himself a Hero For Hire. At one point while working with The Defenders, he complains that all the time he spends with them takes away from good-paying jobs. This prompts Nighthawk, alias multimillionaire Kyle Richmond, to pull out his chequebook and put Luke on retainer so he gets paid for helping the Defenders.

Iron ManFranchise/The AvengersMockingbird
Legion of Super-HeroesSuper HeroMage The Hero Discovered
LokiMarvel Comics CharactersMagneto
The Tomb of DraculaThe SeventiesEtrigan

alternative title(s): Luke Cage; Luke Cage Hero For Hire
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