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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Luke Cage Key Comic Books

To be honest with you, the whole Netflix Marvel line up having Jessica Jones come before Luke Cage really makes it puzzling where they're gonna start the character of Luke Cage off. Yeah, I'm pretty sure they'll do the origin of the character. That's a given.

But where in the present for Luke Cage? After he meets Jessica Jones? Probably so since he will be making an appearance in Jessica Jones series.

So, really, as for speculation? Hard call. Luke Cage has an infinitely weak rogues list for his first series. To be honest, the majority of keys in this list that may later tie into the Netflix Luke Cage series just might see demand and then fizzle once the series is available for streaming after a few months.

However, there are a few keys worth considering in Luke Cage volume one in my opinion, and if you're actually a fan, who really cares about speculation then?

Alright, here's the first batch:  

1st appearance of Luke Cage
Origin of Luke Cage
1st appearance of Dr. Noah Burnstein
1st appearance of Diamondback
1st appearance of Billy Bob Rackham

When it comes to this character and his early mythos, this issue has three major first appearances. For one, Billy Bob Rackham is an important Luke Cage enemy, and I have no doubt that he will be in the Netflix series when they recap the character's origin.

However, the dude does die in the comics, and it's most likely he'll get his due in the Netflix series also. So Billy Bob Rackham was a racist prison guard at Seagate Prison where Carl Lucas was wrongfully incarcerated. He was notorious for tormenting the prisoners, especially African-American ones.

He is crucial in Luke Cage receiving his powers as he tampered with Dr. Noah's experiment with the hopes of killing Cage. Dr. Noah Burnstein would end up being a long supporting character of Luke Cage in this volume.

No doubt that he will be in the Netflix series. How frequently is up in the air. Who knows? They just may kill him in the Netflix series.

Still, this is the first issue and the first appearance of Luke Cage in comics. He was created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr.

His creation at the time was due to the rise in popularity of Blaxploitation films. He was definitely more a street-level hero than most comic heroes at the time, and the setting for his stories were in grungy, crime-ridden neighborhoods or ghettos.

Okay, just to clear this up because some sites get this completely wrong. The Falcon is the first African American superhero in mainstream comics, not Luke Cage. The 2nd might actually be Black Racer from DC Comics who first appeared in 1971 and was created by Jack Kirby during his New Gods series.

Not sure about that, but might be. Anyways, back to the subject at hand.

So Diamondback is the leader of the Rivals, a gang in Harlem that Luke Cage use to belong to. Diamondback is Willis Stryker and was once Carl Lucas' best-friend. They both spent many of their early years in gang fights with the Diablos, whom also make their first appearance here.

Carl would change his life and find an honest job, but Willis continued and became a skilled gangster. However, they both remained friends until a girl named Reva Conners, who loved both men, decided that Carl Lucas was the better choice.

Out of jealousy, Willis framed his former best-friend by hiding drugs where Lucas lived, which is why our hero ends up at Seagate prison. Stryker would die in the next issue, but he is an important character in Luke Cage's origin.

I'm sure he will be in the Luke Cage TV series when they have the episode that details his origins before prison. I'm actually looking forward to seeing how that plays out on screen, because who doesn't like a bit of villainous betrayal in a story?

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 was published June, 1972.

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2nd appearance of Luke Cage
1st appearance of Claire Temple
1st appearance of David Griffith
1st appearance of Gem Theater & Bertha

Okay, this should be another big one for the four reasons noted above. Rosario Dawson is Claire Temple and will return for Daredevil Season Two, and unlike the show, Claire Temple was first a love interest for Luke Cage in the comics.

Also, concerning another long supporting character for Luke Cage during his early years is David Griffith. Fans know that David Griffith operated the Gem Theater for his uncle and leased a third-story office to Luke Cage for his Heroes for Hire gig.

Despite that fact that Luke Cage would cause repeated and immense damages to the place, David and Cage would strike up a long friendship. During the early years for the character, Luke Cage considered D.W. Griffith his only friend.

If they go the Hero for Hire route for the Netflix series, which they should, I'm expecting to see the Gem Theater and D.W. Griffith in the show. It would be a huge disappointment if they disregard that character and place.

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #2 also, of course, has the 2nd appearance of Luke Cage and was published August, 1972.

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3rd appearance of Luke Cage
1st appearance of Gideon Mace

Aside from the 3rd appearance of Luke Cage in this issue, Gideon Mace lost his hand in the Vietnam War during an unauthorized attack on a village, which he led. Afterwards, he was discharged from the Army for his actions and like most villains, he felt he was mistreated and swore revenge on the country that did so.

Yes, as you can tell by the name, the creators went with the obvious and Gideon does actually have a mace for one of his hands. Gideon would be recurring foe for Luke Cage, but if they do use this character in the Netflix TV series, they will really have to take a lot of liberties.

Well, unless they have the character an anti-American terrorist and they want Luke Cage to have some kind of Hero for Hire job that investigates that route. Dunno.

Pretty insignificant villain over-all, and to be perfectly honest, not the best of comic villains or the worst. October, 1972 was when Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #2 was published.

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4th appearance of Luke Cage
1st appearance of Phil Fox

A pretty disreputable reporter for the Daily Bugle, Phil Fox somehow and for some reason grew an interest to Luke Cage. He would be a nuisance for our hero, starting a private investigation to find out more about Cage.

Due to his efforts, Phil Fox would later uncover the truth about the secret experimentation that Burnstein performed on Cage. Of course, Phil Fox would die in the series and it would be at the hands of Billy Bob Rackham.

I can see a Phil Fox in the Luke Cage Netflix series, but I highly doubt he would survive past Season One. Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #4 also has the 4th appearance of Luke Cage, and this comic was published December, 1972.

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5th appearance of Luke Cage
1st appearance of Flea
1st appearance of Mrs. Jenks
1st appearance of Black Mariah

Flea from the Red Hot...just kidding. Before there was that Flea, there was this Flea and this character is Luke Cage's informant who helped him to track down the heroin that Willis Stryker or Diamondback used to frame him with.

Every street-level hero needs an informant of some kind. Okay, that's not true, but I think it makes it a bit more realistic than having a hero know exactly where and what time to drop in on some baddies from the ceiling like clockwork.

Flea would die at the hands of Cottonmouth's men when the title reverts to Powerman. As for Black Mariah, she is a laughable villain.

A big ole, lady and leader of a New York gang called the Rat Pack, Black Mariah and her crew would drive around in an stolen ambulance and pick up the bodies of the recently deceased. Then they would lift these bodies of their valuables. Classy!

Honestly, though, we don't need to be seeing any Black Mariah and the Rat Pack in Luke Cage's TV show unless they do the story about Mrs. Jenks. Mrs. Jenks' husband Frank Jenks was murdered in the Gem Theater and was picked up by the Rat Pack.

Mrs. Jenks hired Luke Cage to find her husband's body, and when our hero does so, he clashes with Black Mariah and her Rat Pack. Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #5 was published January, 1973.

First Luke Cage cross-over

Although a cameo appearance, this is the first time Luke Cage crosses over into another title or comic series other than his own. Nobody really cares about this currently and no one in industry is really noting it at all. Most likely, it's not all that well-known either in the current market, so you can call it a sleeper.

For the record, Luke Cage does not meet the Fantastic Four at all in this issue. He is actually shown in a panel remarking about how he is snubbed by the FF as they fly right on by him "An' not even stoppin' for a dude's autograph".

However, this issue does set up the first time Luke Cage meets the legendary team and their legendary villain. Fantastic Four #133 was published April, 1973.

Sweet Christmas! Plenty of Luke Cage key comic books to go. In my opinion, the safer ones are probably #1 & 2 if you got them before hype and peak. Now, I am not so sure and there is a good chance you will over-pay an over-bloated peak price, especially if you gun for high grade CGC copies.

I don't always write this only because I hate repeating myself, but buying a key issue at max peak is dangerous. If that comic only goes up slightly but not even enough to make you profit and then starts to lose demand and value, you will be closer to the price mark when your comic investment becomes a loss.

Still, you might be able to go around a peak and find a good deal at a comic con, your local comic shop, or where ever offline. Nothing is ever hopeless, just takes a lot more hunting since Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 has been a hot comic for the last two years.

Trickling down (I won't explain this one again...if you don't know what tricking down is, read the Comic Investing Tips Section) or getting a raw copy may be a better alternative.

Anywho, more Luke Cage key issues in Part 2 so click the link below to continue.


  1. Hey, it's Quasimodo talkin here,

    I would prefer Amazing Spiderman 123 over Fantastic Four 133, since it has a full length story appearance of Luke and boasts an awesome cover by Mr. John Romita as an extra.

    Your friendly neighborhood

  2. Was the Black Panther not considered a superhero when he first appeared in 1966? The falcon made his debut in '69. I'm asking because I don't know didley squat about BP except his 1st app in FF 52. Thanks.

    1. Black Panther is African...not African American...yes, he is considered a superhero

    2. Ahh! Yes!! Thanks for the clarification. That's good info to know for playing Comic Book Jeopardy with friends.