Carl Lucas, otherwise known as Luke Cage or Power Man was Marvel’s answer to the popularity of blaxploitation movies in the 70s and although he started off as a C grade character he’s since become a major player in the Marvel universe. He’s led Avengers teams and been a major player in most of the big events in the last few years. As a fan of blaxploitation flicks myself I’ve always had a strong connection to the character and even though it was often painfully obvious he was being written by white people it was still well intended odes to the films of the era such as Shaft, Foxy Brown, Dolemite, Black Belt Jones etc and that sits just dandy with me. So, let’s turn the treble up on the guitar and chicka chicka our way through the best covers featuring our boy Lucas.
From pop artist Jon Morris, this love letter to blaxploitation pulp posters is a thing of gritty 70s beauty. It’s nothing official though so it doesn’t make the list. Wanted to get this work out there though.
67. The Pulse #13: Mike Mayhew- 2007
We see the lighter side of the New Avengers as they are seen doting over Luke and Jessica’s newborn baby. Adorable.
66. Power Man And Iron Fist #96: Ernie Chan- 1983
65.Cage #3: Dwayne Turner- 1992
The 90s relaunch of Luke was rather….lame. Like a lot of things in the 90s, they stripped away the glitz as they felt gen x kids just wanted grit. Not so with Luke Cage, the whole point is he is flamboyant in a community filled with grit. Nonetheless this was a great cover that showed Luke meant business and it’s always great to see The Punisher.
64. Power Man #23: Ron Wilson/ Klaus Janson- 1975
The nonchalant looks on the guards faces as Luke hangs for the public to see is striking and disturbing. It’s hard not to see the real life connotations of the disgusting racial hangings that took place just a short time before this was released. Brave and evocative stuff indeed.
63. New Avengers #37: Leinil Francis Yu- 2007
Yu has Cage up front and centre in the New Avengers as his popularity was growing stronger by every issue. What a great team and visual this was.
62. Hero For Hire #5: William Graham Jr- 1972
Ahhh Black Mariah, you brilliantly bluntly named gangster. This exemplifies Cage’s hilariously bad but loveable rogues gallery as essentially a fat, middle aged woman is a main villain in the series. Luke is destroying fools and deflecting bullets….what’s not to love?
61. Power Man #46: Ron Wilson/Ernie Chan- 1977
A hell of a lot of text for a cover but jeeeeezy peeps there’s a lot going on. Kids playing with a live bomb, street punks attacking Luke and failing miserably as they get their arses handed to them. Turns out the nuclear bomb (planted by Gideon Mace) wasn’t live after all so all was well.
60. Power Man And Iron Fist #94: Ernie Chan- 1983
Love the shattering effect on Luke as he’s shot with the laser…..not sure about Iron Fist striking that pose though.
59. Deadpool #14: Kris Anka- 2013
My love for movie posters is no secret to anyone who reads my stuff. I’m also a massive fan of noir movies and literature so this piece with it’s cool tagline and sombre tones is just delightful. Yes it’s a Deadpool book but Luke is right there on the cover so it counts.
58.Hero For Hire #9: William Graham Jr-1972
I recently talked about this amazing issue in my top fights edition of Kinker Korner and boy did this put Luke on the map. Imagine going to a comic shop in the early 70s and seeing Luke, a background C grade hero fighting one of the main villains in the entire Marvel universe. What a step up from the likes of Billy Bob Rackham and Gideon Mace.
57. Power Man #35: Marie Severin/Dan Adkins- 1976
Making a quip whilst smashing through the front window of a bus and punching your enemy square in the coupon. That’ll do nicely ta.
56.Power Man And Iron Fist #73: Frank Miller- 1981
A fresh faced Frank Miller gives us the internet as seen in 1981! Not really but the computer jargon in this episode is fun to look back on. Rom is actually a spaceknight who is vapourising “humans” left and right. Turns out it’s not actually humans, but dire wraiths (like normal wraiths….but dire) so the fight we see on the cover is only temporary. They later team up.
55. Power Man And Iron Fist #88: Denys Cowan- 1982
Just Luke lobbing a telephone pole to save Danny’s life. No biggie.
54. Mighty Avengers #12: Greg Land- 2014
Blasphemy! I hear you scream. Well I don’t really care how hated Land is as an artist for his often obvious stenciling/copying technique, if he does good work then I’ll praise him too. As far as I know this isn’t ripped off from anything and it’s great in both imagination and conception. The story deals with time traveling from the 70s to the present and the cover neatly portrays that well.
53. Cage #4: Dwayne Turner- 1992
The second part of The Punisher’s appearance in the 90s series and just look at the absolute nonsense depicted here. Beautiful, crazy nonsense. Now they are teaming up in the most inventive ways to go about their business. Even the sub title has a cool wee gimmick to it.
52. Power Man And Iron Fist #64: Bob Layton/Irving Watanabe- 1980
Another great gimmicky cover with a nice gambling motif that fits the issue perfectly. All the characters in the issue are contained in the villain’s hand, lovely stuff.
51.Power Man And Iron Fist #91: Greg LaRocque- 1983
Master of puppets! There’s been quite a lot of these kind of covers over the years and this is one of the early ones. Just really puts the villain over as a serious threat.
50. Marvel Treasury Edition #8: John Romita Sr- 1975
C’mon, Cage, Hulk, Fury, Spidey and Strange celebrating xmas with a wee girl. What a fun cover.
49. Power Man And Iron Fist #87: Denys Cowan- 1982
Moon Knight!! love me some Moon Knight so it’s great to see him here even though he is seriously injured and drowning. Love that the sub heading is graffiti on the wall.
48. Amazing Spider-Man #123: John Romita Sr/Tony Morterallo- 1973
Wow! An actual Spider-Man cover where he’s getting owned by Luke? Superb stuff and a massive compliment to the character, especially at that time.
47. Power Man And Iron Fist #1 (variant): Skottie Young- 2016
Skottie Young is a master of the chibi style, cutesy art and shows it off here with this adorable variant.
46.Marvel Team Up #75: Bob Hall- 1978
Awesome, busy cover that pretty much perfectly explains what you’re going to be getting inside. Spidey and Luke desperately trying to save everyone as the building collapses on them. Beautiful.
45.Power Man And Iron Fist #54: Keith Pollard/Frank Giacoia/Irving Watanabe
It doesn’t tell much of a story other than our heroes are completely kick arse and that’s just fine. Another for the movie poster style cover.
44. Power Man #42: Ron Wilson- 1977
I love comic book art that plays with angles and perspectives. This one gives me vertigo just looking at it. The look on Cage’s face says it all. Great stuff from Ron Wilson.
43. Avengers Origins: Luke Cage: Marko Djurdjevic- 2011
As simple as it gets and it works so well. The chains, both on Luke’s hands and in the background give you a background into his origin and his sombre look let’s you see where he came from.
42. Hero For Hire #2: George Tuska- 1972
With wonderful inks from legendary artist Billy Graham, George Tuska presents a cover so full of action and bad arsery it sells itself!
41.Power Man And Iron Fist #100: Ernie Chan- 1983
Glorious stuff from Ernie Chan in a special 100th issue that had inking from a fresh faced Mike Mignola. It nails the while evil crystal ball aesthetic with a real nice pastel look.
40. Cage Max #1: Richard Corben- 2002
I have mixed feelings about this miniseries as it’s a decent, violent tale but it has Cage as a stereotypical thugish street hood that Azzarello always portrays black characters as. Nonetheless this sweet cover looks like a 90s hip hop album cover.
39.Power Man And Iron Fist #109: Dave Simons- 1984
Great perspective and what a brilliant entrance for a villain.
38. Black Panther #11: Mike Deodato Jr- 2006
Black Panther and Luke Cage together? Awwww yeeeaaaa Marvel’s two main black empowerment characters of years gone by on the same page is a thing of beauty. Again it’s a very cinematic cover and all the better for it. Certainly helps that another love of mine, Shang Chi is front and centre doing his thing.
37. Luke Cage Noir #3: Tim Bradstreet/Dennis Calero- 2009
Part of the underrated Marvel Noir series that doesn’t get much talk but I loved this mini so much. The series was set in a more grounded universe and Luke’s powers were somewhat mythical and so the cover represents what people see in him….the ability to absorb any punishment. Nice that they set his balls on fire though….nae need.
36.Power Man And Iron Fist #50: Dave Cockrum/Irving Watanabe
As iconic as it gets for Luke and Danny is this is the first issueas a team which is confusing as they changed the name from just Power man. There hadn’t been 49 previous issues where they were a team. Rather silly but what a great cover.
35. Hero For Hire #7: Billy Graham- 1973
Billy Graham was a black man that was brought in by Marvel to capitalise on the blaxploitation boom and to prove themselves as a progressive company. Don’t for one second believe the bull that he was ONLY brought in because of his colour. This man was a creative and visual genius. He’s not discussed nearly enough in the comic community for the unbelievable contribution he made to comic book art. Nothing was half arsed, everything was there for a reason and his structuring was so unique you’d only see it from the man himself.
34. Thunderbolts #168: Kevin Walker/Chris Sotomayor- 2012
As someone who was a big fan of Luke Cage before his big explosion around the Civil War era (nothing hipster, just truth) it’s still such a great thing to see him front and centre in team books like this. He’s come so far…..I’m so proud son. I’ve got something in my eye….excuse me.
Part one done, the march to number one will continue very shortly so watch this space and keep looking in at the site. See you soon Kinkermaniacs. Catch me @Swing_Kinker cheers. x