Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Hello faithful friends!!

   What's happening? I hope all is well with you guys and gals. Me? I feel great. Tired, but pretty awesome. I love my family, I love my friends, I love my students, and I love my job...Like my grandma used to say, "Life ain't all glory, but it's all glorious." 

   My grandma was a peach of a lady, and smart to boot.

  But you sure enough didn't come here today for ol' TEX's musings on life, love and his beloved granny - you came for a hit of that comic book knowledge that you can't get in college. Well, you're in luck, Chuck. I'll be your pusha man. Let's go to work, son:

  KA-BAM!!!! Let's celebrate Luke Cage's solo small-screen debut in Netflix's series, "Marvel's Luke Cage!"

    Feast your comics-lovin' eyes on this superhero surprise! It's my two copies of "Luke Cage, Hero For Hire" #1, published by Marvel Comics back in 1972! It features the first appearance of Luke Cage, and his soon-to-be foes, The Rivals: Diamondback (not Steve Rogers' Diamondback), Shades and Comanche.

   Can ya tell that one copy is REALLY well-read? LOL.

   In this issue, we witness the origin of the man who would soon become Luke Cage, hero for hire. His name is Carl Lucas, a tough, street-smart young man born and raised on the mean streets of Harlem, NYC during the turmoil of the 1950s and 1960s. Coming up hard, in a hard town for hard men, Lucas ends up in a gang called the Rivals along with his best friend Willis Stryker, AKA Diamondback, and other young toughs, Shades and Comanche. After a while, Lucas decides to go straight, and takes a job get his life on track. Unfortunately, he's pulled back into The Rivals' violent world when he saves Diamondback from a mob hit. Diamondback repays Lucas by framing him for cocaine, all because he thinks his girlfriend, Reva Connors, broke up with him because of Lucas, which wasn't at all true. Carl Lucas eventually ends up in Seagate Prison in Georgia, where he encounters a racist, sadist guard, Albert "Billy Bob" Rackham. Lucas is recruited for an experiment by Dr. Noah Burstein, who leaves Lucas unattended during the process, giving Rackham time to fiddle with the dials in the hope of killing Lucas.

    But things didn't go as planned.

   Because of Rackham's interference, Lucas is accidentally imbued with super-strength, stamina, and nearly unbreakable skin. He promptly uses his powers to escape back to NYC, where he adopts a new identity as Luke Cage, and begins a career of do-gooding...For a price.

    Luke Cage, created by Archie Goodwin, John Romita, Sr., and George Tuska, is one of Marvel's most interesting superheroes, in my opinion. He is the epitome of the Bronze Age of Comics - he is a hungry hero in a world less shiny than where the other heroes dwell, in a darker place where good guys don't triumph so easily over the bad guys, a place where the lines are blurred, and there is sometimes heartbreaking collateral damage. I like to call Cage a "hard-time hero," the guy who's not afraid to get dirty to make sure that good people are protected, the guy that carries the weight of the lines he's crossed and the lives he hasn't been able to save, the guy that understands that people can get turned around and confused on the mean city streets, where either you're predator or prey. "Luke Cage, Hero For Hire" was a gritty comics experience, dealing with complex social issues like racism and economic corruption all wrapped in a sweet superhero shell. Cage himself was a product of the times, an attempt to get in on the popular, but controversial, Blaxploitation film craze of the 1970s, where black anti-heroes were either pigeonholed into a hurtful stereotype, or empowered in stories where they got to "stick it to the man," depending on whom you talk to, and your own point of view.

   Eventually, Cage would team up with Danny Rand, AKA Iron Fist, and as a successful crime-fighting duo, they would take on the bad guys for several years ("Power-Man and Iron Fist" ran from 1978-1986). This was a marriage made-in-heaven, so to speak, with two heroes representing two once popular, film genres: blaxploitation and martial arts. In time, Cage would strike out on his own, and have many adventures, but the highlight of his life was meeting Jessica Jones, marrying her and the birth of their daughter, Danielle:

 Here is my copy of "Alias" #1, featuring the first appearance of Jessica Jones, and the first time that Jones and Cage met in Cage's bar.

    Luke Cage has had a long, difficult, but amazing career as a superhero. From prison, to the streets of Harlem, to Avengers Tower, Cage has seen and done it all. He has been part of the Defenders, he's been an Avenger, the leader of the Avengers, and, more recently, the head of the Mighty Avengers. Lately, Cage has re-teamed with Iron Fist giving us the return of the Heroes For Hire!

   As a huge fan of Luke Cage, I'm really excited that Mike Colter will be reprising the role of Luke Cage in the upcoming "Marvel's Luke Cage" Netflix series! On to the fun facts!!

FUN FACT #1 - Dr. Doom once hired Luke Cage to destroy some rogue Doombots. Cage did the job, but Doom skipped out on his $200 payment. Cage borrowed the Fantastic Four's plane, and tracked Doom to Latveria where Cage proceeded to put boot to butt, until Doom laid that cool $200 in his hand.

FUN FACT #2 - Night Nurse is the only medical professional that knows how to treat Luke Cage, even with the problem of his unbreakable skin.

FUN FACT #3 - Nicholas Cage, the Oscar-winning actor, is a big Luke Cage fan. He changed his name, Nicolas Coppola, to Nicolas Cage, taking the name of one of his favorite super-heroes.

FUN FACT #4- Superstars, Tyreese Gibson, of "Fast and Furious" fame, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Terry Crews have all expressed a desire to bring Luke Cage to life on the big screen. I vote for Crews.

FUN FACT #5 - Cage was romantically linked to Dr. Claire Temple, the character to whom Rosario Dawson gave life in "Marvel's Daredevil" and "Marvel's Jessica Jones."

Strangely, Dr. Claire Temple is now Nurse Claire Temple. What's up with THAT?

FUN FACT #6 - Luke Cage is touted as the first black super-hero to have his own title. This is arguable - in 1970, a black comics creator named Larry Fuller published Ebon, a comic about a black superhero. So, Luke Cage is the first MAINSTREAM black superhero to have his own title. You might be able to find a copy of Ebon, but they are SCARCE and even SCARCER in high grade. Took me years to find a pristine copy.

FUN FACT #7 - Ebon and Luke Cage might have been the first black superheroes to have their own titles, but the first black hero to have his own title was a Dell western hero by the name of Lobo. And, before you ask -  yes, I have a pristine copy of his first appearance in Lobo #1 from 1965. Ain't I a stinka?

NOT-SO-FUN FACT #1 None of the early black or black African comic book heroes (The Falcon, Luke Cage, Black Panther, Deathlok, etc) were created by black creators.

FUN FACT #8 - Legendary comics creator, Dwayne McDuffie, (R.I.P.) poked fun at Luke Cage in Milestone's "Icon" #13 with an absurd character called Buck Wild, Mercenary Man. As a black comics creator, Buck Wild was McDuffie's commentary on the stereotypical black superhero types.

   Well, that's all for today folks. Thanks for taking the time to read this long post - I couldn't help myself. I adore Luke Cage. Remember, "Marvel's Luke Cage" hits Netflix on the 30th of September!! Don't forget to tune in. I sure won't forget!

   To get your engine a-revvin', I leave you with an exciting clip from the upcoming series:

WOW!!! I CAN'T WAIT!! Later pardners!!

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