In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Today, reader Chris Ghostly asked me on Twitter when was the first time that Luke Cage said his famous catchphrase “Sweet Christmas!” in a comic book. Let’s find out!
The first time Luke Cage used any sort of exclamation was in “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” #2 (by Archie Goodwin, George Tuska and Billy Graham), when he shouted “Mother of…!”
He would use “Mother of!” in issues #5 and #15, as well.
The following issue (also by Goodwin, Tuska and Graham) introduced Cage’s first catchphrase, “Sweet Sister!”
Once introduced, Cage went to it a lot, including the next issue and twice in issue #5!
He then used it repeatedly, in issues #8, 11, 13, 15, 18 (the book was re-titled “Power Man” with issue #17), 20, 22, 23 and 24. It even made Gil Kane and Klaus Janson’s cover of “Power Man” #26!
“Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” #8 (by Steve Englehart, George Tuska and Billy Graham) gave us “Christmas!” for the first time…
This very soon became his go-to catchphrase, appearing in issues #13-16, 18 and #20-24.
In one of those issues without a simple “Christmas!” in it, “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” #19 (by Len Wein, George Tuska and Vince Colletta), we see “Holeeee Christmas!”
Finally, in the summer of 1975, fill-in writer Bill Mantlo gave us the phrase that pays by merging “Sweet Sister!” and “Christmas!” in a merger that took way longer than you would have thought in “Power Man” #27 (art by George Perez and Al McWilliams)…
And Mantlo brought it back quickly two issues later when he once again filled in for regular writer Don McGregor…
After McGregor mostly avoided using catchphrases period, Mantlo returned again in “Power Man” #39…
So I suppose the issue that really solidified it was when Marv Wolfman wrote “Power Man” #40 and a non-Mantlo writer used the phrase…
And it’s been part of the Luke Cage lexicon ever since, even making its way into the “Luke Cage” TV series!
Thanks to Chris for the suggestion! If anyone else has a suggestion that they’d like to see in this feature, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at either @csbg or @brian_cronin!
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