Peter Meets Lucas and the Comic We Need to See

October 16th, 2007 by | Tags: ,

Amazing Spider-Man #121 and 122 are without a doubt two of Spidey’s most important issues in his 45-year history. In these two consecutive issues, he both lost his girlfriend Gwen Stacy and ended up killing his big villain Norman Osborn. Since then, the latter has been undone and the former has been beaten into the ground with Peter’s whining and made worse with that stupid baby retcon.

In retrospect, #123 is also an important issue. It’s the first meeting between Spider-Man and Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.

Luke Cage was still a very new character at the time with about a year to his name. He spent that first year mostly fighting low-rent hoods and some corny villains that I’m sure we will never see reinvented into 21st century badasses. By his eighth issue, he crossed paths with Dr. Doom, his first interaction with a mainstream Marvel character. It also led to the absolute greatest issue of any comic ever. The internet agrees with me.

Amazing Spider-Man #123 would be Cage’s second step into the mainstream and his very first hero vs. hero misunderstanding fight. As for how the two meet, Jameson was Norman Osborn’s friend and deals with his death in his own way: misplaced rage. He blames Spider-Man for Osborn’s death, despite all the pumpkin bombs at the crime scene suggesting it was the Green Goblin that murdered him. Seeing a story on Luke Cage in the paper, Jameson figures that perhaps you need a thief to catch a thief.

Spider-Man swings around the city, thinking about his failure in saving Gwen and how it may be time for him to hang up the costume. The whole superhero thing just isn’t as fun as it used to be. In mid-swing, he’s tackled by Cage and he gets pummeled mercilessly on a rooftop. He forces Cage off and gets his bearings.

“Sorry, friend – whoever you are – but if you think I’m going to take this lying down – you’re wrong! Dead wrong! Wait a minute: I’ve heard about you. You’re the clown who sells his powers – like some cheap, third-rate thug! Cage – you just bought yourself a mess of trouble – because you just got Spidey mad! If there’s one thing I can’t stomach, it’s a mercenary. That’s low, fella – real low.”

Cage takes this personally and the fight gets a bit fiercer. It goes back and forth for a bit until Spider-Man knocks Cage through a window on the roof and sends him down a floor. With Cage incapacitated for the moment, Spider-Man tells him that he just doesn’t want to play around.

“I dig, Spider-Man… but here’s something you don’t: Some dudes have to do this number for a livin’ – we ain’t all rich playboys like Bruce Wayne! Seems you think that’s low or somethin’ and maybe it is… but brother, that’s the way I see it, and that’s the way it’s gonna be. I’m gonna get you, masked man. For the dollar – an’ for me!”

Does it seem weird for anyone else when they mention something blatantly DC in a Marvel comic? Like that time Deadpool called Cable “Superman without kryptonite”. It just feels off.

There’s a rematch later in the issue, with both of them just plain angry. Cage is still mad about Spider-Man looking down at him and Spider-Man’s sick of Cage going after him. In the middle of the fight, Spider-Man has a moment of clarity and realizes that Cage isn’t a villain, but a guy doing a job. They’re so evenly matched and angry that by the time there’s a true winner, the other is going to be dead. Since he doesn’t want death on either side, he has to put an end to this fight ASAP.

What did they talk about? We don’t know. The next scene shows hours later, when Cage shoves the $5,000 down Jameson’s throat and tells him he won’t take the job after all. No wonder Jameson has such a problem with Cage over the years.

As time went on, Spider-Man and Cage would become quite a pair. Not only did they beat the ridiculously beatable smoking villain Smokescreen alongside Storm, but they’ve teamed up both to help out Daredevil during his times of need and to fight side-by-side as two of the most unlikely Avengers. Their relationship is one of the better aspects when it comes to the entire New Avengers run. They’re two very different superheroes, but due to their shared ability to take stride in the face of battle, they work well together.

It makes me think back to that page from the end of their fight and the discussion we never got to see. It’s been nearly 35 years since that comic and I think it’s time we had the contents of that conversation revealed. Look at the facts.

1) It would have Spider-Man.
2) It would have Luke Cage.
3) It would focus on lots and lots of talking.
4) It would be about Spider-Man and Luke Cage doing lots and lots of talking.

This has Brian Michael Bendis’ name written all over it. Make it an annual for either Amazing Spider-Man or New Avengers. Either way, it would be an awesome read.

Come on, Bendis. Make it happen. You owe me, anyway, for that time I saved your life from those robot velociraptors. There’s a possibility that was just me dreaming, but I’m willing to make that gamble.

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One comment to “Peter Meets Lucas and the Comic We Need to See”

  1. […] guess it was the Spider-Man-meets-Luke-Cage article I wrote a few days ago that got me back into my Essentials collection. These collections are […]