Cage #1 (1992): 1st Hardcore

If 1961 was the dawn of Marvel Comics, with Fantastic Four #1, then we are more than 30 years into its history and we are just now getting to rebooting the first solo series starring an African American hero: Luke Cage.  Hero for Hire was the first such book, and it debuted in 1971, followed soon after by Jungle Action featuring Black Panther.  T’Challa has had a couple shots at a solo book since then, but they’ve never lasted more than a few years.  Cage’s solo book became Power Man and Iron Fist.  So, here we go again.

And the relaunch does not have A-list talent.  Assistant editor Marc McLaurin is writing it, and Dwayne Turner makes his debut as a Marvel artist—before this, he did just two issues of Ms. Mystic for Continuity Comics.  So, not well-known–but at least they’re both black.

Editors love words, and McLaurin is no exception. The set-ups in this book are clumsy and verbose.

Wow.  Barely room for the art there.

When we last saw Luke Cage, he was on the run for having been wrongly accused of the death of his former partner, Danny “Iron Fist” Rand, who also has reappeared from a long hiatus out of appearing in comics—but their reappearances don’t have much to do with each other, at least for now.

We get an extended streetfight…

The main theme in this issue is that this is not the old Power Man.  He tells people to call him “Lucas Cage.”

The new villain, above, is Hardcore—who uses chains that Luke breaks during the fight.  That’s symbolic of his old chain-link belt.  I thought it was a nice touch.  Hardcore works for Angel, a crime lord who I thought would be a series regular but he actually never appears again.  Hardcore will be a series regular though.

He has that cool chain+diamond spear weapon and claws that can cut Luke’s skin.

We also meet the third Bushmaster, who is the son of the original one from Luke Cage’s first series.

He’s just a shadowy figure, though, as yet unnamed.

In addition to setting up the new villains, this issue (which takes place in Chicago) tries to establish a cast of characters who we will care about—the staff of the Spectator Newspaper, which hopes to adopt Chicago’s super-hero in the same way the Daily Bugle always gets exclusives on Spider-Man.  They even hired Cage’s lawyer, Jeryn Hogarth.  And there is a female private detective as well, Dakota North, perhaps an attempt to replace Cage’s familiar sidekicks Colleen Wing and Misty Knight.

So, lots of set-up.  A good way to get this book going, with the exception of it being much too wordy.

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