Avengers Origins: Luke Cage #1: Review

Jan 2012
?, Dalibor Talajic

Story Name:

(No title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers Origins: Luke Cage #1 Review by (February 18, 2020)

Review: One of a set of five one-shots each recounting the origin of one or two Avengers, each from a different creative team. While fairly well-done, none has much to add to the versions we’ve read before. The chief difference here is that it adds some characterization to Luke Cage, showing his insecurity about being called a hero and finally being convinced by the disabled old man (new to this version), enabling him to go out with his head held high. The biggest loss: the scene of Stryker’s accidental death from HERO FOR HIRE #2; the look on his face when he sees his exploding knife land next to him is priceless and is one of my all-time favorite Marvel moments.

Comments: Story based on LUKE CAGE, HERO FOR HIRE #1-2. Oddly, guard Rakham was renamed Rachman and Dr Burstein is now Burnstein. Rhino did not appear in the original. Written by Adam Glass and Mike Benson; Gerry Henderson contributed to the coloring.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers Origins: Luke Cage #1 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Prisoner Carl Lucas, locked in the sweat box, reviews the events that led to his being a convict in Seagate Prison. In Harlem, he and his pal Willis Stryker led a gang called the Bloods; after a while, Carl started to long for a normal life and the two men drifted apart. Stryker started dating Reva Conners, a friend of Carl’s but she discovered his dark side and went to Carl for help. Stryker responded by planting drugs in Carl’s apartment and so Carl was sentenced to fifteen years in Seagate. Carl quickly made an enemy of brutal guard Rachman who delighted in telling Carl that Reva had been killed in an attempt on Willis Stryker’s life….

Carl is approached by Dr Burnstein who offers him a chance to volunteer for a risky medical experiment. Carl enters the large device intended to stimulate human cell regeneration but Rachman, seeking to further torment Carl, turns up the power on the machine and it explodes but Carl is apparently unharmed and he beats up Rachman though Dr Burnstein stops him from killing the man. More guards arrive and shoot Carl down—but, to everyone’s surprise, Carl isn’t injured. So he busts out of the prison and takes off into the swamps, killing a stray alligator on the way….

Carl arrives back in Harlem seeking revenge against Stryker. Needing cash, he teams up with a couple of crooks to rob a bank. Carl’s newfound strength enables him to rip the vault door off but they are confronted by an elderly guard; Carl discovers he doesn’t have the heart to be a criminal. One of the other guys shoots the guard and Carl knocks them both out and escapes. Later, Carl stops a hood robbing a local store and when the proprietor offers him a reward, Carl knows what he can do with his powers. He adopts a new identity: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. His first big job has him beating down the Rhino and after that jobs come his way. Luke then targets Stryker’s operations, finally revealing himself to his enemy. Stryker overcomes Luke with knives emitting a shrill sonic signal and the hero awakens to find himself chained to four trucks and the villain has them pull in opposite directions. Cage tears the trucks apart, igniting a fire and bursting free and pursues Stryker over rooftops, denouncing him for Reva’s death though the baddie never cared about her. Stryker falls through a skylight and is killed by his own exploding knife. Cage finds that revenge just leaves him empty….

Epilogue: Years later we find that Cage has been sending most of his Hero for Hire money to support the bank guard who was crippled in the robbery. This year he finally meets the man face-to-face and the old man tells him he isn’t to blame for what happened to him and assures Cage that seeing a man of color alongside the Avengers and Defenders is an inspiration and the old man put Luke’s money into improving the neighborhood. He assures Luke Cage that, despite any mistakes he has made, he really is a hero.

Dalibor Talajic
Dalibor Talajic
Javier Tartaglia
Marko Djurdjevic (Cover Penciler)
Marko Djurdjevic (Cover Inker)
Marko Djurdjevic (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Luke Cage
Luke Cage

(Power Man)

> Avengers Origins: Luke Cage: Book info and issue index

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