From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Art by Leinil Francis Yu.
|First appearance||Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1 (June 1972)|
|Created by||Archie Goodwin|
John Romita, Sr.
|Alter ego||Carl Lucas|
Heroes for Hire
|Notable aliases||Power Man|
|This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
Art by Leinil Francis Yu.
|First appearance||Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1 (June 1972)|
|Created by||Archie Goodwin|
John Romita, Sr.
|Alter ego||Carl Lucas|
Heroes for Hire
|Notable aliases||Power Man|
Luke Cage (born Carl Lucas and also called Power Man) is a fictional character, a superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Archie Goodwin and artists George Tuska and John Romita, Sr., he first appeared in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972). He obtained his powers in an accident that left him with near-impervious skin and superhuman strength.
A streetwise youth, the man called "Lucas" was sent to prison for a crime he did not commit. In exchange for parole, Lucas clandestinely underwent an experimental procedure, originally intended to generate immunity to all illness; instead, it inadvertently granted him steel-hard skin and heavier, enhanced muscle. After escaping Seagate Prison, he forged the identity of "Luke Cage" becoming a "hero for hire," a sort of super-enhanced private detective—although Cage commonly refused money, or simply received none, for cases gone awry (a fair portion, for the unlucky Cage). Later, he formed a business partnership with the martial arts hero known as Iron Fist in the series Power Man & Iron Fist.
In 2010, Cage became the leader of the Heroic Age era Thunderbolts, which was formed in the aftermath of Siege, appearing as a regular character since issue #144, and continued as leader of the team when the title transitioned into Dark Avengers beginning with issue #175. Cage also reappeared as a regular character in the second volume of New Avengers series.
|This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (February 2011)|
Born and raised in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, Lucas spends his youth in a gang called the Rivals. With his friend Willis Stryker, he fights the rival gang the Diablos and commits petty thefts, often on behalf of deformed crime lord Sonny Caputo, a.k.a. Hammer. In and out of juvenile homes throughout his teens, Lucas dreams of becoming a major New York racketeer until he finally realizes how his actions are hurting his family. He seeks to better himself as an adult by finding legitimate employment. Meanwhile, Stryker rises through the ranks of crime, but the two men remain friends. When Stryker's activities anger the Maggia (a.k.a. the Syndicate), he is badly beaten in a mob hit, saved only by Lucas' intervention. When Stryker's girlfriend, Reva Connors, breaks up with him in fear of his violent work, she seeks solace with Lucas. Stryker is convinced that Lucas is responsible for the breakup, so he plants heroin in Lucas' apartment and tips off the police. Lucas is arrested and sent to prison where contact with his family is sparse due to the resentment of his brother James, Jr., who intercepts Lucas' letters to their father James and eventually leads each to believe the other is dead.
In prison, Lucas is consumed by rage over Stryker's betrayal and his father's supposed death, engaging in frequent brawls and escape attempts. Eventually transferred to Seagate Prison off the coast of Georgia, he becomes the favorite target of sadistic guard Albert "Billy Bob" Rackham, whose brutality ultimately leads to a demotion that he blames on Lucas. Later, research scientist Dr. Noah Burstein recruits Lucas as a volunteer for experimental cell regeneration based on a variant of the Super-Soldier process he had previously used to empower Warhawk. Burstein immerses Lucas in an electrical field conducted by an organic chemical compound; when he leaves Lucas unattended, Rackham alters the experiment's controls, hoping to maim or kill Lucas. Lucas' treatment is accelerated past its intended limits, inducing body-wide enhancements that give him superhuman strength and durability. He uses his new power to escape Seagate and makes his way back to New York, where a chance encounter with criminals inspires him to use his new powers for profit.
Adopting the alias Luke Cage and donning a distinctive costume, he launches a career as a Hero for Hire, helping anyone who can meet his price. He soon establishes an office above Times Square's Gem Theater, where he befriends film student D. W. Griffith. Burstein, aware of his friend's innocence, also relocates to New York and opens a medical clinic, assisted by Dr. Claire Temple, whom Cage begins dating. Although Cage is content to battle strictly conventional criminals, he soon learns that New York is hardly the place to do so. Stryker himself has become a Maggia agent known as Diamondback and dies battling Cage. Subsequent opponents included Gideon Mace, an embittered veteran seeking a U.S. takeover; Chemistro (Curtis Carr), whose Alchemy Gun is a weapon later used by others, including his own brother after Curtis reformed; and Discus, Stiletto, Shades, and Commanche, all criminals with ties to Cage's prison days who face him repeatedly over the years.
Although Cage has little in common with most of New York's other superhumans, an ill-conceived attempt to collect a fee from a reneging Doctor Doom leads him to befriend the Fantastic Four. He is subsequently hired by Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson to capture Spider-Man. Cage, however, comes to sympathize with Spider-Man and forcibly returns Jameson's deposit, earning a place on the publisher's lengthy list of superhuman personae non gratae. Via much-later retcon, as the character Jewel did not exist at the time, Cage also befriends Jessica Jones, a young woman whose superhuman strength and unconventional style match his own. During a mission in which Cage and Iron Man track down Orville Smythe, who had duped him into stealing an experimental starsuit from Stark International to "test his [Tony Stark's] factory's security system", Cage follows the example of his new peers and takes the codename of Power Man. Cage battles a rogue Erik Josten (Atlas of the Thunderbolts) for the use of the Power Man name, winning the right.
Shortly afterward, Luke Cage begins associating with the loose-knit super-team known as the Defenders, alongside whom he battles the super-strong Wrecking Crew and the racist subversives known as the Sons of the Serpent. When the Thing temporarily loses his superhuman powers, Power Man is hired to replace him in the Fantastic Four, but his tenure proves brief after the Puppet Master takes control of him to fight his new teammates and Reed Richards has finished construction of a special Thing-suit for Ben to use. Meanwhile, Power Man continues in solo action against an odd assortment of villains including the maddened professional wrestler X the Marvel, the uninspired Maggia agent Mr. Fish, mobsters Dontrell "Cockroach" Hamilton and Ray "Piranha" Jones, the racist Wildfire, the super-powered informant Cheshire Cat, the vengeance-seeking brothers Mangler and Spear (whose brother Jack had died under Dr. Burstein's treatment), the jungle cat-controlling Lionfang, rival crime lords Baron and Big Brother, the obsessive Goldbug, and Zzzax the Living Dynamo.
Called to assist the Defenders against the Plantman, Cage begins to complain that his participation in their group is interfering with his paying work. Wealthy Defenders member Nighthawk solves this problem by placing Power Man on retainer, giving Luke a steady paycheck for his Defenders activities. For some time thereafter, Power Man serves as a core member of the Defenders alongside the likes of Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, Nighthawk, and the Red Guardian (Dr. Tania Belinskya). Together, they defeat minor threats including the Eel and the Porcupine, and major menaces such as the Headmen, Nebulon, Egghead's Emissaries of Evil, and the Red Rajah; but Cage feels out of place in the often-bizarre exploits of the Defenders and eventually resigns. He goes on to battle foes such as Moses Magnum, and the second Chemistro.
Having obtained proof of Cage's innocence in his original drug charges, the criminal Bushmaster abducts Burstein and Temple, using their safety and the hope of acquittal to blackmail Cage into abducting detective Misty Knight, who humiliated Bushmaster in an earlier encounter. Cage's efforts lead to a fight with Knight's boyfriend, the martial artist Iron Fist, who had spent most of his life in the extra-dimensional city of K'un-L'un and was unfamiliar with Earth society. Upon learning of Cage's situation, Iron Fist and Knight help him defeat Bushmaster and rescue his friends. In the course of the encounter, Bushmaster forces Burstein to mutate him as he had Cage, but is nonetheless defeated. Cleared of criminal charges, Power Man legally changes his name to "Lucas Cage". He briefly works for Knight's detective agency, Nightwing Restorations, but soon elects to join Iron Fist in a two-man team, Heroes for Hire, founded by attorney Jeryn Hogarth and staffed by administrative wunderkind Jennie Royce. Although the streetwise Power Man and the unworldly Iron Fist seem to have little in common, they soon become the best of friends. Cage's relationship with Claire Temple proves less durable, and he instead begins dating model Harmony Young.
Power Man also helps Spider-Man battle a tenement fire. With Iron Fist and the X-Men, he battles the Living Monolith. Alongside Iron Fist, he travels to K'un-L'un, and battles Master Khan.
Power Man and Iron Fist achieve great success with Heroes for Hire, earning an international reputation and fighting a wide variety of criminals, including the genius Nightshade, the international crime lord Montenegro, Sabretooth and the Constrictor, the third Chemistro, Warhawk, and the drug lord Goldeneye. They have several struggles involving the nations of Halwan and Murkatesh, including incarnations of Scimitar and the Black Tiger. They occasionally work alongside fellow street-level heroes such as Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight, but rarely participate in the larger-scale crises that occupy the likes of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Their partnership's downfall begins when the mysterious government agency S.M.I.L.E. manipulates Power Man and Iron Fist into the employment of Consolidated Conglomerates, Inc.; during their first CCI assignment, Iron Fist suffers radiation poisoning. Cage takes him to K'un-Lun for treatment. Iron Fist apparently recovers, and soon after their return to the outside world, he encounters a young boy named Bobby. Bobby can change the molecular structure of his body because of a meteorite that fell from the sky, granting him superhuman powers and calling himself Captain Hero. The meteorite that gave him the powers also gave him a deadly spore that was killing him. During a painful episode caused by his illness, Bobby transforms into Captain Hero and pummels Iron Fist, apparently killing him. Cage is blamed for the apparent murder of Iron Fist and flees.
The following passage refers to events in the 1992–1993 series Cage, written by Marcus McLaurin.
A fugitive again, Cage breaks contact with his New York friends and relocates to Chicago; but, with Hogarth's help, he is cleared of criminal charges when the real Iron Fist turns up alive.[volume & issue needed] Cage discovers that Iron Fist had been replaced by a doppelganger of the plantlike H'ylthri race, K'un-Lun's ancient enemies during his treatment. This doppelganger's existence and destruction at the hands of the Super-Skrull are part of a bizarre scheme engineered by Iron Fist's enemy, Master Khan.[volume & issue needed]
Wanting a new start after his murder charge is dropped, Cage abandons his Power Man guise and begins operating out of Chicago as the plainclothes Luke Cage, Hero for Hire; he makes arrangements with the Chicago Spectator for exclusive reports of his adventures and frequently works with detective Dakota North. On his first mission in Chicago, he assists the Punisher in battling drug dealers. Cage soon attracts the interest of the refined assassin Hardcore, an employee of Cruz Bushmaster, son of the very villain whose defeat clears Cage's name the first time. Cage learns that Cruz, following in his father's extortion footsteps, has abducted Noah Burstein's wife Emma to force the scientist to recreate the process that had empowered Cage, regardless of how many test subjects suffer in the process. Cruz undergoes the procedure himself, but the elder Bushmaster drains the power from his son, reversing his near-catatonia and declaring himself the Power Master. Cage teams with Iron Fist to thwart their plans, freeing the Bursteins while the Bushmasters apparently perish. Cage's power is augmented further by exposure to the Power Man virus.
While Cage tries to locate his surviving family members with the aid of Dakota North, his brother keeps moving his father around to keep Cage away from them. James, Jr., is eventually recruited by the criminal Corporation, whose power-enhancing scientist Doctor Karl Malus mutates him into the superhuman Coldfire. As Coldfire, James, Jr., hopes to be a match for his brother, whom he regards as a threat, and he uses his hatred of Cage as a focus for his energy powers. Though James, Jr. works with the Corporation quite willingly, Malus has James, Sr. held hostage as extra insurance of Coldfire's cooperation. When Cage learns the Corporation is holding his family, he invades their headquarters and battles Coldfire. The brothers ultimately join forces to rescue their father from Malus, and Coldfire sacrifices himself to destroy the Corporation's headquarters.[volume & issue needed]
The following passage refers to events in the 1997–1999 series Heroes for Hire, written by John Ostrander.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2008)|
A few months later, Cage investigates the murder of Harmony Young and fights her killer, the demon Darklove, alongside Ghost Rider. Not long afterward, the mystic Doctor Druid recruits Cage to serve in his Secret Defenders against the sorcerer Malachi. Cage returns to New York and, deciding his heart is no longer in superheroics, becomes co-owner of the Gem Theater with his friend D.W. Griffith. Even an invitation from Iron Fist to join a new and expanded Heroes for Hire fails to interest him; yet when the would-be world conqueror called the Master tries to recruit Cage as a spy within Iron Fist's team, destroying Cage's theater in the process, a curious Cage plays along. Cage joins Heroes for Hire and serves with them for some time while reporting to the Master. Cage himself even begins to sympathize with the more benevolent aspects of the Master's goals, and the Master and Cage seem to become genuinely fond of each other; but in the end, Cage can neither betray his best friend Iron Fist nor reconcile himself to the tremendous loss of life the Master's plans of conquest will entail, and he ultimately helps Heroes for Hire destroy the Master of the World's plans. Cage remains with the group thereafter, and dates a fellow member, the She-Hulk. When the Stark-Fujikawa Corporation buys out Heroes for Hire, Cage and Ant-Man are fired because of their prison records, and the rest of the team quits in protest.[volume & issue needed]
Cage, bitten by the hero bug once more, continues to share adventures with Iron Fist and other heroes. Briefly resuming his Power Man identity, he is hired by Moon Knight to join an unnamed team of street-level New York vigilantes, often referred to by fans as the "Marvel Knights"; but mere days after he joins, the group dissolves following clashes with the forces of Tombstone and Fu Manchu. Deciding that a return to basics is in order, he re-establishes his Hero for Hire activities, intervening in a gang war between Tombstone and Hammerhead, and soon learns that, despite his international fame, he is almost forgotten on the streets where he originally made his reputation. He invests his money in a bar and sets about ridding his immediate neighborhood of criminal elements, deciding that the business of world-saving is best left to others.[volume & issue needed]
In the 2002 miniseries Cage, written by Brian Azzarello under Marvel's MAX imprint, an alternate version of Cage is hired to investigate the murder of a teenage girl and becomes involved in a three-way gang war for control of the neighborhood.
After a one-night stand with a drunken Jessica Jones, now a private investigator, Cage's life is briefly thrown into disarray by Jones' reaction to the fling.[volume & issue needed] The two make peace while working as bodyguards for Matt Murdock. Matt's public denial of his Daredevil costumed identity and suing of the Daily Globe costs him a bit of Cage's respect, calling Matt a hypocrite to his face.[volume & issue needed] Shortly afterward, Cage extends emotional support to Jones when she is forced to revisit past abuses by the villainous Purple Man, and Cage's feelings for her grow.[volume & issue needed] When Jones reveals that she is pregnant from their tryst, she and Cage move in together.[volume & issue needed] Soon afterward, Jones becomes a superhuman consultant with the Daily Bugle, where Jameson's ire at Cage has by no means dwindled over the years.[volume & issue needed] After she is attacked by the Green Goblin during a Bugle investigation, Cage, helped by Spider-Man, deliberately attacks Norman Osborn in order to provoke him into revealing he is the Goblin.
It is revealed that Luke Cage has been one of the superheroes involved in Nick Fury's Secret War in Latveria. With the memories wiped from his mind, Cage is unprepared when he is attacked in his own home by Lucia von Bardas. Cage sustains internal injuries that prove difficult for doctors to treat since they are unable to perform necessary surgical procedures due to his highly durable skin. Months afterwards, Cage is present at the breakout at the supervillain prison 'The Raft' and becomes a founding member of the re-formed Avengers team. Soon thereafter, following the birth of their daughter, he and Jessica are married. He also meets the Black Panther (revealed to be one of Luke's personal heroes), joining him and several other superhumans of African descent on a mission against vampires in New Orleans.
After the Superhuman Registration Act is enacted, Cage and his wife are confronted by Iron Man and Ms. Marvel, who want them to register. Cage refuses, comparing the act to slavery and Jim Crow segregation. He then sends Jessica and his newborn daughter away to Canada where they can be safe, though he himself refuses to leave. As midnight strikes and the act goes into effect, S.H.I.E.L.D. forces commanded by agent Gabe Jones immediately come to arrest Cage. He fights his way to safety with the help of Captain America, the Falcon, and Iron Fist (posing as Daredevil), and joins Captain America's "Secret Avengers". He fights alongside them in opposition to the act until Captain America surrenders to U.S. authorities.
Cage does not comply with the amnesty offered to the Secret Avengers, going underground and reforming the New Avengers alongside Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Fist, and Spider-Woman.[volume & issue needed] Luke assumes leadership of the New Avengers after the assassination of Captain America, with the team now operating underground and provided with secure accommodation by Doctor Strange.[volume & issue needed] The New Avengers are driven by two goals; to save people "the way [they] want to", and to investigate the reason why the world has been turned upside-down recently. After a confrontation with Elektra and the Hand to rescue Echo, the team discovers that Elektra has been replaced with a Skrull some indeterminate time ago, but whether more prominent figures on Earth have been replaced with Skrulls by this point is unclear. However, after returning to Jessica following their mission in Japan, Cage is uncertain about whether she really loves him or if she is merely a Skrull impersonator. The revelation has also made him very suspicious of his fellow Avengers, especially Spider-Man, believing his switching sides during the Civil War makes him a prime suspect. More recently, he names his daughter Danielle, after Danny Rand.
In the 2007 storyline "World War Hulk", Luke Cage, along with New Avenger member Spider-Man, tries to aid the Mighty Avengers in the evacuation of New York City. However, he makes it clear that he is not doing this because of Tony Stark's offer of amnesty to anyone who assists in preparations for the return of the Hulk to Earth, and simply sees this as uniting against a common enemy; in the second issue, Cage is defeated by the Hulk's Warbound ally Hiroim the Oldstrong.
After the New Avengers battle and defeat the Hood's empire, Jessica leaves Luke and takes baby Danielle to Stark Tower to be registered. After a Skrull ship crashes in the Savage Land, Luke takes the New Avengers there, confronting the Mighty Avengers. During the battle, Luke rips open the Skrull ship, only to have a large group of 1970s versions of several heroes, including himself, emerge and say that they are the real heroes. They are able to prove that the heroes on the ship are Skrulls, thanks to a device made by Reed Richards that forces the Skrulls into their true forms. The Avengers along with Reed and Abigail Brand, who saved Richards from the Skrull ship in which he was imprisoned, fly back to New York and meet up with the other heroes to fight the final battle with the Skrulls in Central Park. During the midst of the fight Jessica Jones come into the battle and fights with the heroes, while admitting that Luke was right and apologizes. The Skrulls are ultimately defeated, with Norman Osborn killing the Skrull queen Veranke (who had been impersonating Spider-Woman) on live television. Afterward, another Skrull impersonating Avengers butler Edwin Jarvis disappears with Luke and Jessica's baby daughter, leaving the couple desperate and upset.
Following the Skrull invasion, the U.S. government replaces S.H.I.E.L.D. with a new organization, H.A.M.M.E.R. Norman Osborn is placed at the helm, making him as powerful as Iron Man had been as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain America (James "Bucky" Barnes) organizes a meeting with the New Avengers at his home, offering it as a base of operations. When Luke, Jessica, and Carol arrive at Bucky's home, the New Avengers contact the Fantastic Four and Iron Fist to begin searching for Danielle. They attack various villains such as A.I.M., HYDRA, Electro, and other villains for any information regarding the Skrull Jarvis, thinking he might have contacted them for a way to escape. Eventually they find a Skrull pretending to be an ex-SHIELD agent at a bar. Before the Skrull can reveal where Danielle is, another agent shoots the Skrull in the head, leaving Jessica convinced Skrull Jarvis is going to kill Danielle. Meanwhile, with the rest of the New Avengers unaware, Luke asks Norman Osborn for help in their search, agreeing do to anything he asks of him. Osborn helps Cage recover Danielle, but when Bullseye kills the Jarvis-Skrull, Cage reneges on his offer to serve Osborn and returns to the New Avengers. He is then offered the role as leader of the New Avengers, but turns it down, giving the role to Ronin.
Some time later, Osborn brainwashes Iron Fist as part of a plot to gain revenge on Cage. Cage is able to use his strong bond with Iron Fist to help him overcome the brainwashing, and the two escape. When the New Avengers are hit by the reverse engineered power drainer unleashed by Chemistro, Cage experiences extreme heart pain. He has no choice but to turn himself in to Osborn for help, although the New Avengers are later able to rescue him by drawing the Dark Avengers away from the Helicarrier where he is being held by attacking Camp H.A.M.M.E.R. while a group of allies (including Daredevil, Iron Fist, Valkyrie, Doctor Strange, and Doctor Voodoo) infiltrate the Helicarrier to rescue him. Unknown to all, a tracker is placed on his heart during surgery. With the help of Doctor Strange and Hank Pym, they are able to remove the tracker leaving it in Norman Osborn's home just before Osborn uses the tracker to target explosives. This results in Osborn's home being demolished.
Following the Siege of Asgard, Steve Rogers appoints Luke Cage leader of the Thunderbolts program. Soon after, he begins to recruit potential new Thunderbolts, a balanced mix of former and older members, personally inducting the Ghost, Moonstone, the Juggernaut and Crossbones, with MACH-V, Fixer and Songbird's cooperation, and using the Man-Thing's powers for long-distance transportation.
When Steve Rogers asks Cage to rejoin the Avengers, Cage and several of the Avengers who opposed the Superhuman Registration Act felt as if opposing the registration act was pointless if they end up working for the government anyway. Steve Rogers and Tony Stark end up selling the mansion (which was recently renovated) to Luke Cage for a dollar, allowing him freedom to recruit his own Avengers team and operate without directly taking orders from Rogers, though Rogers insists on having Victoria Hand join them as a liaison. While inviting his team over for a discussion, Cage and his team are forced to assist Doctor Strange, Daimon Hellstrom, and Brother Voodoo in thwarting an attempt by Agamotto - the original owner of the Eye of Agamotto - to destroy existence, culminating in the apparent death of Brother Voodoo. Although initially against the idea of being paid for being on the team as it reminds him of the reasons they opposed the Act in the first place, Cage is convinced to accept the offer.
Luke Cage is amongst the heroes who battle Daredevil and the Hand. Luke Cage and Iron Fist are asked by Steve Rogers, Iron Man and Thor to speak to Daredevil concerning the Hand's martial law imposed in Hell's Kitchen. As the former Heroes for Hire make their way to Hell's Kitchen, they witness Daredevil brutally murder Bullseye.
Luke Cage and Iron Fist later has an encounter with someone who is going by the name of Power Man. He and Iron Fist discover that this Power Man is Victor Alvarez, a survivor of the building that Bullseye blew up.
The day after Bullseye's murder, Iron Fist and Luke Cage are discussing Murdock's actions when they are visited by the Kingpin, who comes to warn them that soon they will need to take Murdock down. Iron Fist later joins Luke Cage and the other street heroes (namely Shang-Chi, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight, with Spider-Man joining later) when talking to Daredevil. When Kingpin unleashes Ghost Rider upon Shadowland, Daredevil suspects them behind Ghost Rider's attack and orders his ninjas to hunt them down.
Luke Cage is later visited by Lacy Kimbro, who informs him that her son Darris is among the cops that are prisoners of the Hand's Underhand faction (a group of ninjas who are already dead). Luke Cage later calls the Thunderbolts over to the mainland. He informs them that their mission is to locate Darris in the Hand's stronghold, assigning Fixer to lead the group while he goes to reason with Daredevil.
After the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, during which he was imprisoned on Utopia, he decides, following a conversation with Daredevil, to resign from his Avenger duties to ensure the security of his wife and child just after the two of them along with Mockingbird and The Thing protected Emma Frost from the Purifiers. After the X-Men were defeated, Cage, Jessica, Squirrel Girl, and Iron Fist resigned from the Avengers. When the Avengers were subsequently reformed during the Marvel NOW! event, Cage was considered for membership, but declined Tony Stark's offer.
Luke Cage possesses superhuman strength and stamina, and has extremely dense skin and muscle tissue which render him highly resistant to physical injury. Cage possesses these abilities as a result of his participation in dangerous, and highly controversial, experiments while in prison. The cellular regeneration experiment has fortified the various tissues of Cage's body, granting him a high degree of resistance to injury via skin that is as strong as titanium and can resist high caliber bullets, puncture wounds, corrosives, and extreme temperatures and pressures without sustaining damage (it has been noted that he has skin as "hard as steel", but when he went up against an adversary that was going to shoot him with bullets that "can pierce steel", he relates that the "steel" hardness of his skin is just a saying and its much tougher than that[volume & issue needed]). Despite this, it is still possible to cause him injury. For example, it is possible to injure him with adamantium weapons. However, it has been shown that the supernatural fangs of a vampire are not able to pierce his skin.
A second exposure to said experiments further enhanced his strength and durability to current levels. He is described as being significantly stronger than his first enhancement.
The same experiment which granted him his great strength and durability has also given him a faster than normal recovery time from injury. Cage's recovery time from physical trauma is significantly shorter than that of a normal human. A major drawback, however, to his superhuman durability is that when he does sustain serious injury beyond his ability to heal on his own, medical care is difficult, given doctors' inability to get past his hardened skin, as in the Secret War limited series.
Luke Cage is an exceptional street fighter and was a gifted athlete before receiving superhuman abilities. He has also studied martial arts under Iron Fist's instruction, learning how to couple leverage with his strength in order to increase his combat effectiveness against more powerful opponents.
He owns a jacket that is as durable as his skin, having been exposed to the "Power Man" treatment during Cage's second exposure.
In this reality Luke Cage is Power Fist, a mix between the 616 versions of Luke Cage/Power Man and his friend Iron Fist. He is also this reality's leader of the Avengers. He leads them to eradicate the Vi-Locks and his life is saved by Sunfire when she is stuck on his world. He later moves to Quentin Quire's reality to replace one of his selves who had died when he shouldn't have.
After gaining his powers, Luke forms a crime syndicate in Hell's Kitchen, which he later turns into a Human Resistance Movement and recruits several human heroes to his side, including Cloak, who looks up to Luke as a father figure. He is the first person that Layla Miller comes to 'awaken' from the House of M reality and joins the force that takes down Magneto and his children in Genosha.
Luke Cage, dressed in his original disco shirt outfit, is a member of the Avengers and one of the first heroes to become infected by the alien virus, ultimately infected by the zombified Sentry, along the other Avengers.[volume & issue needed] He also encounters Ash Williams not long after being infected.[volume & issue needed] He is among the few heroes who manages to eat the Silver Surfer, and receives cosmic powers by doing so.[volume & issue needed] At the end of the Marvel Zombies miniseries, he helps to devour Galactus and becomes a member of "The Galacti" (along with Iron Man, Spider-Man, Giant Man, Wolverine, and the Hulk), who travel across the universe devouring all life on planets, however Galactus's energy bolts hit the lower half of Cage's body.[volume & issue needed] Next, the Marvel Zombies attack a Skrull planet, only to encounter the Fantastic Four - consisting of Black Panther, Storm, the Thing and the Human Torch. It pleases the zombies so much that they attempt to capture the FF and try to transport back to their fully populated reality. He also has a role in Marvel Zombies 2, joining Spider-Man in fighting against the other Galactus as he realizes that their hunger has faded over time.[volume & issue needed] His lost arm is replaced by a transplanted arm from an unknown being (possibly alien) and his lost lower half is also replaced with a cybernetic one. At the series conclusion, he is transported to another universe which also gets taken by the infection. Cage fights to defeat the hungry zombies of this reality, but is defeated and killed by Sandman.
An adult take on Cage is presented in the Marvel MAX imprint simply titled Cage, working as a freelance detective of sorts in the Harlem ghetto. In this gritty miniseries, Cage is investigating the death of a young teenage girl who was killed in an attempted hit on a criminal. The urban-themed storyline depicts Cage as a hardened ex-convict with the suggestion that he underwent a medical experiment that allowed him to deflect bullets.
A different version of Power Man appears in the Ultimate Marvel universe as a member of the Defenders, although he is never referred to as "Luke Cage". In this universe, the Defenders consist of several people who want to be superheroes but have no useful superpowers, and appear to be more interested in the celebrity aspect of being heroes than actually doing anything heroic. This version originally never had any powers, however in Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates, he and the Defenders all appear with powers, given by Loki.
A film adaptation of Luke Cage was in development for Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures, with John Singleton directing. In May 2013, it was announced that the film rights for Power Man had reverted to Marvel Studios.
Luke Cage was ranked as the 34th greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard magazine. IGN also ranked Luke Cage as the 72nd greatest comic book hero of all time stating that Cage embodies much of what we love about Marvel's heroes.