They don’t call him Power Man for nothing. Luke Cage is one of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel Universe, and he gets to show it early and often. Since his first appearance as a blaxploitation rip-off in 1972’s “Luke Cage, Hero For Hire” #1, Cage has been smashing his way through bad guys. At this point, he’s been doing it for over four decades. Of course, that kind of power comes easy to a guy with unbreakable skin and muscles strong enough to rip through solid steel, but it’s also his mental and emotional fortitude that are made of sterner stuff. That combo has helped him become such a lasting character in the comics, and what makes his transition to the screen all the more exciting.
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Mike Colter brought the character to life in 2015’s “Jessica Jones” Netflix series to great acclaim, so much so that he is now leading his own show as the titular Hero for Hire. On September 30, Netflix will release “Luke Cage” as the muscle-bound hero fighting crime in modern-day Harlem, and just like the rest of the world, we cannot wait to see it. In preparation for his upcoming TV series, CBR reviews some of the most powerful moments in Luke Cage’s history.
11. Cage vs. Iron Man
“Luke Cage, Power Man” #17 (1974), Cage was hired to test the security of a Stark Industries facility. In reality, he was being set up by criminals to steal an experimental suit of armor from Stark, not just as an exercise, but for real. He didn’t count on running into Iron Man, who didn’t take kindly to the invasion. Cage endured multiple punches from Iron Man’s mighty metal fists, which are strong enough to punch through walls. But even they couldn’t put Luke down and he shook them off to keep on fighting. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Cage also stood up to the invincible power of Iron Man’s famed repulsor blasts — a feat not many other characters in the Marvel Universe (and beyond) can similarly claim. Iron Man’s repulsors are built into his gloves, and fire powerful beams of concussive force. They are strong enough to propel Iron Man’s bulky frame into the air and can pulverize anything they meet. But all Luke Cage had to do was brace himself, and he didn’t even get knocked down. Now that’s some power, man!
10. Cage vs. Bulldozer
In “Cage” #18 (1992), Cage is hired to find out who’s been killing homeless people in New York City. He’s on the trail of the Homeless Slayer, along with a group trying to protect a little girl. All of them are hiding out in a shantytown inside the city. Little does Cage realize that the murderer is Councilman Randolph Creed, who has been taken over by the Bogeyman, an evil force who can control people’s bodies. The Bogeyman was bonded to a ring won by Creed, which acted as a vessel for the manipulative entity as he tried to find a human host he could permanently control. When confronted by his girlfriend, who recognized the ring on his finger, Creed tried to get rid of the evidence by ordering the shantytown destroyed. When a bulldozer headed into the town, Cage put a stop to it with one of his most incredible feats of strength. Without a second thought, he picked up the bulldozer and threw it out of the shantytown altogether. He didn’t even break a sweat! That’s a level of power usually associated with someone like the Hulk, proving once again that Power Man belongs as a steady presence among marvel’s A-list heroes.
9. Cage vs. Truck
Some of Cage’s most powerful moments didn’t involve fighting criminals. In some cases, it was his ostensibly more mundane struggles that made the biggest impressions. Here, we should touch on the debate about Cage’s peak strength. Originally, Cage’s strength was described as being able to lift seven to ten tons. However, he was actually able to command far greater strength, like punching through solid steel. In later issues of his series, specifically “Cage” #5-9 (1992), Cage went through another treatment, which boosted his already amazing strength. But even then, he still manages to perform spectacular acts that continue to surprise his fans. In “New Avengers” #9 (2010), Cage worked with the titular super-team to take down a shop actingas a front for human growth hormone experiments. While the Thing attacked the bad guys to distract them, Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist rushed to move the trucks full of equipment. Unfortunately, Cage couldn’t start his truck, so he did what any one of us would do. He picked it up and carried it on his back… for seven blocks. When you’re as strong as Cage, you don’t need a lock pick.
8. Cage Brings the Thunder(clap)
One of the Hulk’s signature moves is clapping his hands together to create a sonic boom. The impact is usually enough to shatter windows, send large objects flying and generally fell his enemy. But Hulk isn’t the only one who can pull this off. In “New Avengers” #1 (2010), Cage joins a new team alongside Jessica Jones, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. But when they arrive at the front door of Avengers Mansion, they’re greeted by a woman with a huge gun. It’s Victoria Hand, Norman Osborn’s former assistant during his days running the rogue security agency, H.A.M.M.E.R. Needless to say, they aren’t thrilled to see her, given their history together. After all, she and her boss hunted the team when they were outlawed by the United States government. Even when Hand gives them a note from Steve Rogers (formerly Captain America) asking them to give her the benefit of the doubt, Cage still doesn’t trust her. Likewise, Hand refuses to give up the gun, because she has no superpowers. Cage responded with a powerful clap, which made a boom powerful enough to send her flying across the Mansion. We guess you could say he gave Victoria… a hand? We’re not sure how he is with puns, but that’s definitely how Cage deals with a gun pointed in his face. Of course, with his bulletproof skin and even steelier disposition, Cage wouldn’t have taken much damage, anyway. Unfortunately, Victoria couldn’t say the same thing.
7. Cage Catches a Flight
In “Power Man and Iron Fist” #112 (1984), Cage needed to catch a plane. Literally. While taking a cab, Cage found himself almost sharing a ride with a little girl. Having absolutely none of that, Cage unceremoniously kicked her out. (He wasn’t really into kids at this point.) Shortly after, however, he had his first meeting with special agent Gordy, a member of the Special Military Intelligence Law Enforcement Division (S.M.I.L.E.). Gordy enlisted Power Man to track down Sally McRae, the daughter of a Pentagon computer specialist who took what she thought was a bank book. What McRae really stole was a book of top-secret access codes to the Pentagon’s computer system. Threatened with the closure of his company, “Heroes For Hire,” Luke is forced into a do-or-die situation: find the girl and recover the book or lose everything good in his life. When he finds her, the girl isn’t willing to cooperate with his plans. In fact, she was on her way to meet her favorite football player, “Bad Ned,” much to our hero’s chagrin. When Cage’s back is turned, she escapes, but he quickly gives chase and catches up with the plane he thinks she’s gotten into. Cage actually chases down the plane on foot as it’s taxiing down the runway, which alone shows how his strength gives him amazing speed. He also grabs onto the bottom of the plane, and manages to drag it so hard that the pilot is forced to stop.Up, up and away? Not on Luke Cage’s watch.
6. Cage Withstands a Pumpkin Bomb
In “The Pulse” #5, the Green Goblin tangled with the wrong woman. During an attack on the NYPD at OsCorp, a blast knocked Cage’s pregnant girlfriend Jessica Jones out of a top floor window. Spider-Man manages to rescue her in time, but she’s terrified that she’ may have lost her baby. This enrages her to the point that she fights Goblin herself in mid-air, but Goblin escapes. When they get to the hospital, it turns out the baby’s okay, but Cage is understandably upset. Later, when the Daily Bugle reveals that the Green Goblin is none other than Osborn, Cage attacks his car in revenge. Of course, Osborn busts out his Goblin costume to defend himself. When Goblin lobbed a pumpkin bomb at Cage, the titanic hero caught it, and in a pointed display of both strength and sheer invincibility, let it explode in his hands. Other than ruining his shirt, he came out without a scratch. Of course, after that, Cage beat Goblin into a little green pulp. All the bomb did was make him mad, and just like Bruce Banner, you wouldn’t like him when he’s mad.
5. Cage vs. Proxima Midnight
In “Mighty Avengers” #2 (2013), Cage and his team come face to face with Proxima Midnight, one of the most powerful individuals in the known universe. Proxima is a member of Thanos’ Black Order, an elite group of death-worshipping aliens that served as the Mad Titan’s personal guard. She led a strike team of Thanos’ soldiers to New York City in order to make way for the destruction of Earth while looking for the Infinity Gem and Thanos’ son Thane. She attacked and beat the Mighty Avengers into the ground, and it looked like she had won. But in a moment of solidarity and bravery, the people of New York begin shouting “Avengers Assemble.” The call is enough to get Luke Cage to rise up and attack Proxima Midnight. To everyone’s surprise, especially Proxima’s, Cage proceeds to beat the living tar out of her with his bare fists. He hits her so hard that the ground starts shaking, although not all from his punches. Unfortunately, Thanos chose that moment to call Proxima away, so we never got to see how the fight would end. But Cage proved he could punch an elite alien warrior (who once laid low the Incredible Hulk, by the way) and get the upper hand.
4. Cage vs. Spider-Man
“Amazing Spider-Man #123” (1973) is the first meeting of Cage and everyone’s favorite wall-crawler. And boy, was it was a doozy. In this story, J. Jonah Jameson of The Daily Bugle hired Luke Cage to capture Spider-Man. Cage reluctantly took the case, not realizing Spider-Man was a hero. In turn, Spider-Man didn’t take too kindly to Cage, who he took to be a heartless mercenary. The two fought as superheroes tend to do when they first meet, and Cage took multiple punches from the web-slinger without even a scratch. Spider-Man even tied Cage up with his webbing, and Cage effortlessly ripped himself free; yet another show of strength not many people in the Marvel 616 can claim. To show why this was such a big deal, let’s talk about Spidey’s webbing. Spider-Man’s web formula is extremely strong. It can support his own weight while he swings around the city, tie up both thugs and super criminals alike, and even stop moving cars. The fact that Cage could snap it like dental floss shows how incredibly strong he is, and sets him in a very exclusive class of characters.
3. Cage vs. Doctor Doom
“Luke Cage, Hero For Hire” #8-9 is one of the most legendary and iconic story arcs for Cage. In it, Cage goes from street crime to the big leagues when he ends up in a fight with Doctor Doom. Doom hires him to try to destroy his robots, but being a bad guy, he ends up not paying for his services. In fact, Doom leaves the country altogether, and heads back to his home country of Latveria. Most people would have given up on collecting that two hundred dollars, but not Cage. Cage borrowed a plane from the Fantastic Four to travel all the way to Latveria, smashed into Doctor Doom’s castle and famously demanded, “Where’s my money, honey?” Doom, clearly underestimating Cage, started fighting him. But he quickly discovered that, as he so often said of himself, Luke Cage was not a man with which to trifle. Cage punched Doom’s armor over and over in the same spot until he smashed a hole in it. Doom admitted no one had ever broken through his armor before, and paid him. Nobody holds out on Luke Cage, not even Doom!
2. Cage vs. Dark Avengers
Cage’s feats of endurance don’t just involve bullets bouncing off his chest. His super-hard body also allows him to survive impacts that would kill anyone else. One of Cage’s darkest and most powerful moments came in “New Avengers” #49 (2008). During a shape-changing Skrull invasion of Earth, Jessica left their daughter Danielle Cage with the Avengers’ butler, Jarvis. Unfortunately, it turned out that Jarvis was a Skrull agent in disguise, and he disappeared with Danielle. In desperation, Cage partnered with Norman Osborn and his new Dark Avengers team. He promised to join Osborn if his child was found. But the team, composed of supervillains such as Venom and Bullseye, committed brutal acts to get the information they need. While they did help Cage track down the Jarvis Skrull and find his baby, he immediately regretted the bargain he made to get her back. But he does return to Osborn to pay his debt. Well… sort of. Instead of joining Osborn, Cage uses the enchanted crowbar of the Wrecker to beat the living tar out of Bullseye and Venom, and topped it all off by jumping out of Avengers Tower to the sidewalk several stories below. When he lands, he leaves a bit of a crater, but is otherwise unharmed. Cage walked into a room full of supervillains and left without a scratch. That’s why we love him.
1. The Birth of Danielle Cage
In addition to his tremendous strength, some of Cage’s most powerful moments are tied to his immense humanity. The relationship between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones has been rocky from the very beginning when they had a Aliasone-night stand in “Alias” #1. At the time, neither one of them wanted to pursue a long term relationship. But after a while, the two troubled souls evolved and Jones became pregnant, forcing the two to either commit or get off the pot. The moment that truly bonded Luke and Jessica together came in “The Pulse” #13 (2006). In this issue, the two prepared for the arrival of their baby in Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. As reporters swarmed outside, Jones gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, later named Danielle after Luke’s best bud, Danny “Iron Fist” Rand. In that moment, as they held their baby, Cage and Jones speculated on whether their baby had superpowers. But Cage had another question on his mind, as he proposed to Jessica then and there. It took later issues for her to accept, but in that rare tenderness, Luke showed his truly greatest strength and without doubt his most powerful moment.
What are you favorite Luke Cage moments from his illustrious comic book career? Let us know in the comments!
Starring Mike Colter, Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley and Sonia Braga, “Marvel’s Luke Cage” will be released on Netflix on September 30, 2016.
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