Scoundrels Behind the Cage Part 1

August 23rd, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Gavok note: I’ve been rather busy the last week and I have my Orlando report that nobody cares about nearly done, but in the meantime I thought I would break through the lack of articles with another old Pop Culture Shock thing I wrote. I guess I was inspired by hermanos posting that link the other day to the Thunderbolt profile.

Before I had really read all that much with Luke Cage and Iron Fist, I was always in love with the concept. You had these two very different characters based on the movie fads of the 70’s (blaxploitation and martial arts) and gave them solo series destined to fail because, well, fads die out. So to cut their losses, they just put the two guys together into a makeshift team that worked like no other and lasted for eight years as a series. You couldn’t do that with just any two ailing comics. You can’t just release something like Atom and Infinity Inc. and think it’ll last past issue 6. The ingredients with Luke and Danny are perfect. These days the characters are stronger individuals for it, but are quick at teaming up without a single fuss.

You can’t forget their beginnings, though. Before the days of Iron Fist taking a break from beating up ninjas because he just saw Cage kick an alien shape-shifter in the lady business, the two were loners trying to rise up the Marvel ranks. Iron Fist’s series, a spin-off of his debut storyline from Marvel Premiere, lasted a paltry fifteen issues. It was cancelled so abruptly that Claremont had to get an Iron Fist/Spider-Man storyline made for Marvel Team-Up just to tie up the loose ends. That said, Iron Fist was a really solid series and adds a little punch to the details of the modern series.

What it didn’t have was a good rogues gallery. Yes, Iron Fist was the first guy to be shown fighting Sabretooth, but other than that, his enemies were really generic and forgettable. Power Man didn’t have to worry about that.

Luke’s comic didn’t have as much of an involved storyline as Danny’s did, but there’s a reason his comic lasted nearly 50 issues. Luke Cage, Hero for Hire was a fun comic. Insanely fun. The guy’s average day involved hanging out with his janitor sidekick, walking down the street in his gaudy outfit, punching a random thug, getting shot at, making sure to note that bullets don’t work on him, fighting a ridiculous villain, then going back home.

And what a bunch of villains he had. You always knew you could read the next issue because whoever Cage was going to fight next was definitely going to make things worth it. Even his villains borrowed from others were pretty entertaining, like Dr. Doom and Zzzax.

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Black History Month ’09 #09: Shakey Dogs

February 9th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Shades & Comanche are two villains with delusions of adequacy. They failed at being successful criminals, failed at uniting the prisoners behind Luke Cage, and then they broke out of prison and kept failing upward. They failed their way into supervillaining, costumes, and high tech weapons. Eventually, they failed their way out of existence, as they haven’t appeared as a duo in years.

They were part of Luke Cage’s amazingly colorful cast of supporting characters. They were supervillains in that they tried to do bad things, but they were usually spectacularly ineffective. Gavin made a good point when I was talking about this post with him. Shades and Comanche are victims of the idea of “escalation” from The Dark Knight. When heroes appear, villains appear. When heroes up the ante to beat the villains, the villains do the same.

The problem is that for every Joker, there are undoubtedly fifty Jokesters, Comedians, Wildcards, Clown Kings, Clown Crowns, Laughing Boys, and Sitcom Commandos running around the city and lowering the tone. Shades and Comanche were those guys. They put on costumes and did dirt. Sometimes they would end up having to team up with Luke Cage to make it out of a tough situation.

Boiled down, they were bunglers and idiots, but, like an insane amount of Cage’s supporting cast, incredibly charming. Before Deadpool charmed the pants off a generation of fans, Shades & Comanche were a couple of lovable failures.

They’d be pretty easy to bring back, too. Cage is a big name Avenger now, and it’s only a matter of time before someone leaks his location. And what happens when you’re a Name and you’ve got family or idiots in your past? They come calling.

So, it’s easy. Traditional failures, Shades & Comanche, show up on Luke Cage’s doorstep in full costume. “Luke! You have a kid. You should retire… we’ll take your place.” Seems pretty solid, right?

Now imagine them speaking with this guy’s voice:


Revamp of the year, sensational character rediscovery of 2010.

S&C would fill a pretty cool niche, I think. They aren’t 4th Wall Funny like Deadpool or Creep Funny like Ant-man. They’re just… dumb. Very very dumb, but also very, very earnest. If anyone should’ve given up years ago, it should’ve been these two, but they keep on, keepin’ on.

These two are one of my favorite little bits of black comics history. I don’t know that I’d ever call them major players, but they were a fun little slice of comedy, intentional or unintentional, in Luke Cage’s books.

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