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Comic Book / Luke Cage: Hero for Hire
aka: Luke Cage

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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, (aka 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.

The character made his live action debut in Jessica Jones (2015) played by Mike Colter, and got his own Marvel Cinematic Universe / Netflix original series show, Luke Cage (2016), in 2016.


  • 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)
  • Power Man and Iron Fist (2016)
  • Cage (2016)


Live-Action TV (As part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Video Games

Western Animation

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.
  • Arch-Enemy: Gideon Mace; he was Luke's most recurring foe, and a huge threat in all of his appearances. On a thematic level, he could also be the Angry White Man to the Angry Black Man that Luke was regarded as, being a dishonorably discharged Vietnam veteran who was obsessed with striking back at society and "the man" for its perceived mistreatment, betrayal, and abandonment of him and others like him.
  • Badbutt: This comic is the result of an angry black 70s revolutionary whose dialogue was written by comic book writers and then run through a filter to make sure it was rated G. Luke had to compensate for his inability to say bad words by putting his fists through all the background objects.
    Luke Cage: That's how you want to play it, Doom? You motherless son of a witch, you'll find out how Luke Cage plays it!note 
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: As the leader of the Thunderbolts and New Avengers.
  • Bash Brothers: Cage and Iron Fist are perhaps one of the greatest superhero duos in comic history.
  • Blaxploitation: The character was initially created as an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the genre, much like how Shang-Chi and Iron Fist took advantage of the Kung-Fu genre. He has since evolved considerably, with much of the character's modernization being owed to writer Brian Michael Bendis.
  • 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 technically the brawn, while Danny is the brains, though with the spin that Danny is often a clueless Fish out of Water compared to Luke, the New York native.
  • Cain and Abel: Cage and his brother Coldfire often come to blows.
  • Catch Phrase: SWEET CHRISTMAS!
    • Usually shortened to simply "Christmas!" He also threw around "Sweet Sister!" a lot early on.note 
  • Chained by Fashion: He often wore a chain belt as part of the wrongly-convicted-past motif.
  • 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 in the quote under the Badbutt entry: Doctor 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.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Luke and Danny are walking in civvies, already in a bad mood after some friends of theirs have been attacked. A group of thugs decide to mug them, one slashing open Danny's shirt.
    Thug 1: Wait, that dragon brand... That's...that's the mark of...Iron Fist!
    Thug 2: A-and if he's the Fist...then the other dude's gotta be...
    Thug 3: Oh, no...
    (cue Luke and Danny trashing the gang to within an inch of their lives)
  • Fanboy: Of Isaiah Bradley, the first African-American superhero who becomes Captain America (In-Universe, chronologically). He is among several African-American heroes, along with The Falcon, Goliath (Bill Foster), Monica Rambeau, and Triathlon; who are gleefully surprised when Isaiah arrives as a special guest at the wedding of Storm and Black Panther. Luke also describes Isaiah as "the first me".
  • 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.
    • Averted in his later incarnations.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in a later Heroes for Hire series, where Jessica has him control his language after the baby starts cussing, and this carries over to his missions with Iron Fist.
    Cage: This guy is a bad Knick-Knack-Paddy-Whack
    Iron Fist: A bad what?
  • Happily Married: His marriage with Jessica Jones has a lot of love.
  • Healing Factor: A little, but if injured, Luke is capable of recovering from mild injuries in 1/3rd the time it would take an ordinary human.
  • 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. are literally super friends. 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 super durability, so bullets can't hurt him.
  • Insistent Terminology: He most definitely did not ever wear a tiara. It was a headband. Head. Band.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: It was a Justified Trope in his first issue, with Luke deciding that if he was going to make money as a superhero, he had to dress in something a superhero would wear. The likes of Deadpool and Spider-Man love reminding the poor guy about it.
  • Jive Turkey: Like we said, honky, 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:
    • Mixed Black/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. He has a good Healing Factor though, so that helps. He's also susceptible to knockout or sleeping gas.
  • 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.
    Luke: You married me. Take the name.
    Jessica: But I'm my own person.
    Luke: 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.
  • Mugging the Monster: An almost literal example as many a thug made the mistake of trying to jump Cage only to realize too late who he was when their knife/bullets bounced off his skin.
  • Mythology Gag: Mr. Fish's real name (Mortimer Norris) combines the names of Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, the creators of Aquaman.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Luke Cage's skin is as hard as metal and his muscle and bone tissues are considerably denser than the tissues of an ordinary human, granting him much greater resistance to physical injury than an ordinary human. He can withstand conventional handgun fire and cannot be cut by any blade forged of conventional material. He can withstand up to one-ton impacts or blasts of 150 pounds of TNT without serious injury, and is highly resistant to extreme temperatures and electrical shocks. He has withstood impacts from superhumans a good deal stronger than him, destructive energy attacks including electricity, and falls from great heights such as ninety story high skyscrapers.
  • 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.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Shades, Comanche, Discus, and Stiletto. The former two were usually Those Two Bad Guys, with the latter two as Bash Brothers. Eventually, all four of them were recruited into Nightshade's Flashmob and played this trope straight.
  • Reaching Towards the Audience: Frequently has his fist in the foreground of official art.
  • Really Gets Around: Apparently has had relations with Tigra, Jessica Drew and She-Hulk. Ms Marvel once joked that he was known as a habitual "cape chaser." Luke Cage however disagrees when Jessica brings this up. He points out that if he was a lawyer or a professional, it's more than likely that most of his relationships would be with fellow professionals, and that he doesn't have any particular thing for superheroines aside from it being the women he meets in his line of work most often.
  • Rogues Gallery Transplant: Nightshade (originally a Captain America villain), Purple Man (previously a Daredevil villain but now Jessica's Arch-Enemy), and Man Mountain Marko (originally a stock henchman fought by Spider-Man).
  • 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. 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?
    • In the first issue of the 2017 book he notes that he goes through so many of his iconic yellow t shirts that he's had start buying them in bulk.
  • Salt and Pepper: He had a partnership with fellow superhero, Iron Fist who is a white martial arts master raised in an other-dimensional city while he himself is a wrongfully accused black ex-con living in Times Square and freelancing as a superhero) in the Marvel comic Heroes for Hire. Both were created in the '70s during the Kung-Fu and Blaxploitation crazes. Best Odd Couple ever.
  • 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. He's sort of made it his thing.
  • 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 a Mighty Avengers leader.
    • Despite Iron Fist being his lifemate, Spider-Man and Cage often come across as this in New Avengers.
  • Super Strength: After undergoing the original experiment, Cage's strength was increased to superhuman levels. Over the years, Depending on the Writer, his strength level was anywhere between Spider-Man's or the Hulk's.
  • Symbol Swearing: Sweet *$!%&# Christmas, this has been a modern staple of Luke's.
  • Terror Hero: The reason he wears a plain yellow top instead of armour is because seeing an Angry Black Man get hit by a shotgun blast and completely No-Sell it is highly intimidating.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: At a glance, it seems like a lot of Luke's villains are themed around either cold-blooded animals (Diamondback, Cottonmouth, Mr. Fish, Piranha Jones, Cockroach Hamilton, etc.) or weapons (Spear, Discus, Stiletto, Gideon Mace, etc.)
  • 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.
    • And 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. In Doom's own words:
    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 checkbook and put Luke on retainer so he gets paid for helping the Defenders.
  • Working with the Ex: The 2016 run has Luke and Danny's relationship as this when they're pulled together for one last job when their former receptionist gets out of prison with a job for them.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: "Jingle Bombs" was a more cynical take on the story, where a villain named Marley tested Luke Cage to see if humanity was worth him not nuking New York. He decided that Luke was all right, but humanity needed to go, and it was only through a robber's unwitting interference that Luke saved the day. The narration box says that while the world has survived, it hasn't changed a bit.

Alternative Title(s): Luke Cage


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