Black History Superhero Month: Luke Cage – Power Man

Luke Cage in his old Ghetto Fabulous outfit, spouting off some of his favorite slogans.

Well in honor of Black History Month, I’ve decided to write a few articles on some of the Black Superheroes of comics history. Trust me, some of it is H.A.M. – HOT…ASS…MESS.

Let’s start with one of the most prominent Black superheroes out there today  – Luke Cage, Power Man.

Yeah, I drew him in his old-ass loud pimped-out ghetto fabulous get up from back in the day. Nowadays he’s dressed more in the fashion of the day, wearing some kind of bandana with sunglasses and rockin’ a bald head. At least he doesn’t have his pants sagging down around his ass. Sheesh.

Anyway, so here’s the thing about these Black superheroes. Unfortunately, they were mostly created by White men who had no clue how they should write these guys. Most of the time I think they weren’t intentionally trying to write something bad, but they just didn’t know. I think they really thought that they were doing us a favor, or that they were at least staving off any complaints about not having any minority heroes.

Well, the truth is I rarely considered these things as a kid. I just wanted to have a cool character that I could pretend to be. I couldn’t do Superman because obviously he was White. Can’t be Batman because he’s White, sure as HELL can’t be Captain America, so you get the picture.

Then, he got his powers while he was IN PRISON. Damn. It was for a crime he didn’t commit, but still. I can’t really identify with that. Maybe they thought the Black youth would really commiserate with that experience. So really when Cage got out of prison he was on the run from law until he cleared his name.

Come to think of it, this dude is on the run from the law even NOW. Good googa mooga. Ain’t nuthin’ changed, y’all.

So anyway, Luke Cage was always a c-lister to me. He was strong, but they seemed to take great pains to portray that he was not THAT strong. Cage may punch a whole in a brick wall, but he ain’t taking down Thor or anything.

Also, he’s bulletproof, but not really THAT invulnerable, he was always getting punched out like a punk. Man, I remember one time in an old issue of Dazzler, she was being stalked by Rogue of X-Men fame (back when Rogue was a villain). So she calls up Luke and his parter Iron Fist to help her out.

Needless to say, Luke got his monkey-ass whooped by Rogue. As I recall, she punched him halfway across the city and he passed out like a byatch. I was disgusted.

Then, in Incredible Hulk #300, Hulk was going on a rampage as usual, so here comes Cage to take on the Hulk. Dude, seriously?? You got punched out by Rogue a couple of months ago. Now you want to take down the Hulk? It’s not happening. Again, as you may have guessed, Hulk punched Luke all the way across the city and he passed out…like a BYATCH. Come on, man…

So that’s one thing wrong, but get this…Luke was a hero for HIRE. The man did not work for free. That didn’t sit too well with me. I mean, Spider-Man was out there doing what he had to do and didn’t get a nickel for it.

Captain America and Daredevil aren’t out there looking for money to save people. But the Black man is out there with his hand out. To be fair, it’s not like Cage would let someone die if he couldn’t negotiate a deal, but still, it’s seems kind of base and cold, and not very heroic. The worst part is he was still broke all the time! Damn damn damn…

But wait, let’s back up here. Let’s look at his name – Power Man. UGH. Talk about lame. It’s like something a kid would make up. At least he dropped that name now, but still, how can you call yourself Power Man when you really don’t have that much power?

Time for some extra comic-nerdiness. Back in the day when the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe came out, I loved seeing exactly how strong these guys were, and exactly how invulnerable. Boy was I disappointed when I saw that Cage could only lift 10 tons. Damn, is that all? That’s how much Spider-Man can lift.

To put it in perspective, Thor can lift over 100 tons, so can Hercules, Wonder Man (yeah another stupid name but he’s pretty tough), even the Thing is up there at 85-100 tons or so. The Sub-Mariner can also put up about 85 tons. Rogue, who whooped Cage’s azz before, at the time could lift about 50 tons, and then he thought he was gonna go against the HULK?? Negro, please.

But it gets worse. So that was bad, but then they came out with a Deluxe Edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. I checked out Power Man again, and would you believe that he could only lift 3 damn tons!? That really ain’t sh*t. I think I could lift 3 tons, man. I should just call myself Power Man.

Well, if you look over at the Marvel bio section of their site, they now say that Cage can put up about 25 tons, which is better, but still puts him at the lower end of the super-strength spectrum in the Marvel U. (,_Luke)

But I digress like Holden Caulfield.

Now for some mo’ complaining. What up with that costume? It was loud as hell. Why did he have to have his shirt open all the way down to his navel? I’m not sure how this character was able to have a baby since he was wearing those tight-azz blue pants all the time.

Here’s the truly funny part. A lot of the early drawing of Luke had him breaking out of chains. Probably because of his origin in the prison, and all. Maybe he was just breaking the chains of the White man’s oppression?

But hey, Luke…you’re actually wearing a CHAIN as a BELT. It’s holding up your pants! Or is it? Those damn pants were so tight it was ridiculous. I don’t see how he managed to get his shirt tucked in. Not that it mattered, the shirt always ended up torn to shreds anyway.

Power Man and his chain belt
Damn this dude loves chains.

Even the shirt wasn’t as bad as the Tiara. Why in the world was he wearing that? It didn’t make any sense. Spider-Man’s costume was classic from day one. Right from jump street. Luke Cage had to just wear his Saturday night pimp outfit to work everyday.

I think what they were trying to do was show that only someone as tough as Luke would wear a chain as a belt. Yeah, that’s gotta be it.

And he was always yelling out some kind of exclamation like a southern bamma, something like “Christmas!“, or extolling the virtues of his skin, which was as hard as tungsten steel. He would always be yelling out something about how his skin was “tungsten hard!” Man, whatever.

Hey, fun fact: Whenever the Thing was out of commission, on those rare occasions when he would turn back into Ben Grimm or something, the Fantastic Four would hire Luke Cage to fill in for him, and they’d take this brotha out of the ghetto off to the other side of the universe.

I have some of those old Fantastic Four issues, and you have to read between the lines. Back in the day they couldn’t just outright come out and say this, but obviously Sue Storm (the Invisible Girl – Cage made her an Invisible Woman) had a thing for the dark chocolate. Essentially, we all know Luke Cage hit that.

Come on, he was not gonna let a sweet blonde honey like that slip through his fingers. I think they did it in the Fantasticar. Reed knew what was going on but he pretty much knew there was nothing he could do. He wasn’t exactly throwing down in the bedroom and he just wanted to keep Sue happy.

If you think I’m lying just remember she had that thing with Namor the Sub-Mariner, too. She was always stepping out on Reed. Outside the marriage, outside the race, and in the case of Namor, outside the species.

But you won’t see that in today’s comics. The man is married, and has a kid. Talk about boring. Now I REALLY wouldn’t want to be him. However, he’s taken a lot more seriously as a character, and not clowned so often. It could be worse, I guess – wait until I write up Storm.

Well, now that I’ve dropped this bomb I just don’t know what else to say. I guess I’ll wrap this up and leave with this link to a whole bunch of covers from the Luke Cage, Power Man first run.

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