Marvel Launches Luke Cage Ongoing Just In Time For Defenders

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Luke Cage, the bulletproof hero with a heart of gold, has swept the Cinematic Universe, earning a first and second season for his popular television show.  He’s also obviously made a big splash in comics as father to Danielle Cage, Husband of Jessica Jones, and best friend of Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist).  That relationship with Rand has been Luke’s home for most of his current run on Power man and Iron Fist.  However, it would appear that Luke is getting his own long overdue comic run.

According to CBR.com, fans of Luke will have reason to celebrate in May. Power-Man is going back to his roots with a new Luke Cage series by Power Man and Iron Fist writer David Walker and artist Nelson Blake II.

Writer David Walker talked about how  the series will walk the line between long-time Luke Cage fans and newcomers who are coming from the show and want to read about the character.   The series’s opening arc will send Luke to New Orleans to investigate the death of a man who was like a second father to him.  While Power Man and Iron Fist comes to a close in April, this new series will help fans jump into the story line if they love the character.

I’m no longer going to be writing the adventures of Luke and Danny, but I am writing the adventures of Luke, which is pretty exciting. I’m especially excited by all the story opportunities that come from delving into this character in a solo setting.

Luke Cage  is a fan favorite.  It famously “broke” netflix with so many people wanting to watch it.  This makes a “solo” Luke book difficult.  With so many people interested, what sort of “book” does Luke Cage need?  What kind of tone does it need to set?  Walker was very specific, “I’m trying to build on the shoulders of everything that has come before.”

Just as he was in the “Power Man & Iron Fist” run, he’s a bit wiser. He’s still very street-smart, but he’s also a father, a husband, and he’s been through a lot more. I’m writing him in a much more contemplative way. He’s the sort of person who’d like to figure out how to get out of a bad spot without having to resort to just throwing punches. It always seems like he has to throw punches, though, before he can figure out how to get out of a bad situation.

Walker then elaborated that Luke will be a little more mature in this run.

I’m not going to say that the television show was a huge influence on me, but it did show me a lot of ideas and ways Luke could be handled; a lot of them were in conjunction with ideas I had been developing in the first place or had been thinking about. I really want to give the readers the best Luke possible, and I think that’s a Luke who does more than just fight all the time. I think the best superheroes are ones who aren’t just beating the crap out of something or someone.

It’s refreshing to read that actor Mike Colter’s performance will have a role shaping the character’s comic incarnation.  Colter’s talent and quiet sort of wisdom will, according to Walker, shape how he writes the character as they inform his experiences as both a super hero and a family man.

it definitely is interesting trying to find that balance because the moment a character makes an appearance in a live-action medium, whether it’s television or film, suddenly a million more eyes are on that character, aware of that character, and have these ideas about the character. That’s what they come to expect. Then you have the readers, some of whom have been fans for decades, and while they love that character, they have different expectations and different desires.

You definitely saw it with “Daredevil.” People who missed that first Daredevil movie and had never seen the character before saw the first season of the Netflix show and everything was new to them. Then there were readers, like myself, who had been reading “Daredevil” since they were little kids. I have a 40-year relationship with the character.

It’s interesting now because you find yourself having to find that balance between the two. You certainly don’t want the fans who have just discovered this character to go into a comic book shop, pick up the comic, and go, “This is nothing like the show!” You don’t want to be exactly like the show or movie, though, because there’s a reason why there’s a movie or TV show, and there’s a reason why there’s a comic. I firmly believe that neither should be exactly the same otherwise it gets really boring.

When asked if the series will have the the same street crime element so familiar to fans of the series and how that will interact with the fantastic world of Marvel at large, Walker wanted to emphasize that “Luke is essentially a private detective.” Mr. Walker has experience with this, having previously written the Shaft title for Dynamite publishing.  In Walker’s own words, “He’s a private detective who also happens to be a superhero. Maybe he’s more of a superhero first than he is a private detective, as opposed to his wife who is more of a detective than she is a superhero.”

There’s always going to be some level of the fantastic, and it is a street-level book. I’m looking to make this a little more grounded than my “Power Man & Iron Fist” run was, though. We deal with the magic and the supernatural there, and some of that might turn up here, but I’ve been watching a lot of noir movies from the ’40s and the ’50s and reading some detective novels. I’m really immersing myself in that genre more. Luke still has that Hero for Hire sensibility, but I think the notion of what a hero is is so much more complex in this day and age. Luke is essentially a private detective.

I love this character, so I’ve gone back and read a ton of Luke Cage comics, and again, a lot of times he’d have these cases that would be solved by him beating someone up. That’s great, but let’s have him use his brain a little bit more and have him get involved in conflicts that are a little more in a moral gray zone as opposed to the black and white.

Walker went on to explain that while his work with Shaft went Dark, Luke Cage is a super hero that commands respect from both sides of the law.

I love the notion that as a street hero Luke commands respect from both sides of the law. He was a member of the Avengers, he’s going to be a member of the Defenders, and he was even a member of the Fantastic Four for a little while. He also has a criminal background; he’s been to prison. Everybody on the streets knows him and those that don’t respect him at least fear him. I want to play with some of that too.

The series will give us an in-depth look at his relationship with the man who gave him his abilities, Doctor Noah Burstein.  Noah has been like a father figure to Luke, and sending Luke to investigate his loss will explore areas of the character we haven’t seen before.

According to Walker, “This is Luke really discovering a lot about himself as well as investigating what was going on regarding his father figure Burstein.”

One of the coolest things that Luke Cage will bring, is a look at New Orleans.  The “Big Easy” of the Marvel universe has rarely been mentioned.  According to Walker, bringing Luke to New Orleans will feel like he’s immersed in another world. In Walker’s own words, “I wanted Luke to be removed from his comfort zone.”

I knew I wanted to set the story near a fairly large city, but then I looked at places that had fairly high crime rates and had really significant disparity between wealth and poverty. New Orleans, and what it’s become post-Katrina, offered some really interesting stuff as a backdrop. Plus, I wanted to get Luke in a place that felt really foreign to him, and New Orleans really does feel like you’re in a completely different world. Even though it’s been more than 10 years since Katrina a lot of times it still feels like there’s an uncertainty to New Orleans and what’s going on there. I read these stories about crime and organized crime in the wake of the city being rebuilt and I thought, “This is where we’re going.”

Luke will face off against a new antagonist who, according to Walker “is someone who thinks he can give Luke a run for his money” and might be more powerful then him.  He’ll also be teaming up with an older character with suspect motives.  Clearly influenced by the noir books of the 40s and 50s, Luke’s a detective on a mission.  Mr. Walker has promised that he’ll be without his network of friends, “People are inevitably going to ask when Danny will show up in this book.  He will show up in some point, but the book is called “Luke Cage”

I can’t say much, but we will see some characters that play into our larger story as it develops beyond this first arc.

Editorial and I discussed how we really want to let this be Luke’s solo book. It’s funny, when we started “Power Man & Iron Fist” everybody was asking if people like Misty Knight and Colleen Wing were going to be in the book.

He added ,”Luke and Danny will be running around together in The Defenders.”

The Defenders book is paramount on Mr. Walker’s mind.  With the Netflix series on the way, he’s spoken with writer Brian M Bendis about the direction that everyone’s favorite street team of heroes is going.  Luke Cage and The Defenders are important parts of each other.  Marvel is committed to telling both stories to the best of their ability.

We’ve been talking a little bit about “Defenders.” So I do know what’s going on in the first story arc of that book. I’m definitely very excited for that. Moving forward there will definitely be more wrangling of, “Where’s Luke at this point? And how does he break away to do this?” But how many titles do characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man, or Captain America show up in? And I’m happy that for the first time in a long while Luke is getting a lot of love and attention that it seems like he hadn’t been getting for many, many years.

The book’s artist, Nelson Blake II, has a unique visual style that Mr. Walker is looking forward to bringing to Luke Cage.  Best known for his work with Top Cow, Mr. Walker teased that this is all about the collaboration for him and he is really looking forward to putting in the work,”It’s all about the collaboration for me. I love that, and I’m looking forward to working with Nelson and seeing what he brings to the table because right now what he brings is really fun.”

I try to go into every project I have with no expectations visually of what the book should look like, especially if there isn’t an artist attached. Because if you go in with expectations about how the book should look, you’ll inevitably end up disappointed. Once you get to know the artist that you’re working with you begin to tailor your scripts for them and you begin to work more with them. Then stuff begins to flow.

Did Mr. Walker offer any hints as to the second arc after Luke’s trip to “The Big Easy”?

Our next story arc will find him back in New York. Then we might get him out of his element again. I’m trying to plan some stuff out and knowing how much running around Luke is going to be doing in “The Defenders” and assuming how much running around he’s going to be doing in “The Crew” I’m thinking it might be good to have him close to home or a couple subway rides away from home for a few issues. We’ll see where things go.

It’s clear that writer David Walker is a Luke Cage fan, prepared to approach the character with love and respect for both his comic incarnation and the love that fans of the Luke Cage TV show bring to the comic book universe.  This is a comic that is long overdue and will hopefully draw more fans into Luke’s adventures in the comic book universe.  Are you excited? So are we.

Don’t forget to check out The Defenders coming soon to comics and Netflix and catch up with Power Man and Iron Fist ending this May.

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