10 Luke Cage Stories to Read Before the Netflix Series

Here’s 10 Luke Cage stories that will prepare you for the new Netflix series

Having appeared in more than four decades of Marvel Comics stories, Luke Cage is now getting his own Netflix series. Jessica Jones fans were already introduced to Mike Colter’s Cage when he played a recurring role on the previous series. The history of the character stretches back a whole lot farther than that, however. We’ve assembled a list of some of his key comic book appearances, featuring ten Luke Cage stories that you should check out before the new show premieres, focused on the first appearances of key characters.

There’s a lot more than ten great Luke Cage stories, though, so sound off in the comments below about which ones are your favorites.

Look for all 13 episodes of Marvel’s Luke Cage to premiere on Netflix September 30.

Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1 and 2 (June and July 1972)

The best place to start is at the beginning. The first issue of “Luke Cage, Hero For Hire” sees the introduction of Carl Lucas. Born and raised in Harlem, Lucas’ life forever changes when a childhood friend, Willis Stryker, betrays him. Lucas’ fiancee is killed and he himself is framed on drug charges and sent away to the maximum security Seagate Prison. It is there that Lucas volunteers for an experimental medical procedure (using a variant version of the same Super Soldier serum that created Captain America). Lucas leaves the experiment with not only impenetrable skin but with a super strength that allows him to break free and escape back to New York.

Taking on the name Luke Cage (along with a costume that once belonged to a traveling escape artist), Marvel’s “Hero for Hire” is born. The trouble is, Stryker has a new identity of his own. He’s now working for Maggia, an international crime syndicate, under the name Diamondback.

The second issue finishes off Luke Cage’s first adventure as the hero takes on Diamondback and meets, in her first comic book appearance, doctor Claire Temple. Temple, as Marvel fans are well aware, is played by Rosario Dawson across the various Netflix series.

Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #5 (January 1973)

The fifth issue of Luke Cage’s first series is notable for introducing the villain Black Mariah. The leader of a criminal gang, Mariah Dillard crosses Luke Cage’s path with a racket that involves stealing ambulances and robbing corpses.

Look for the MCU’s version of Mariah Dillard to play an important part in Luke Cage season one, played by Alfre Woodard.

Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #8 and 9 (April and May 1973)

When he’s hired by a mysterious source, Luke Cage winds up following a series of clues that lead him back to the Latverian embassy. It seems that Doctor Doom had used Cage to track down some runaway robots. There’s just one problem – Doom stiffed him on the bill! The second half of the story sees Cage, with the begrudging help of the Fantastic Four, follow Doom all the way back to his castle and, ultimately, get his cash.

This is a great early example of the potential Luke Cage has to crossover with the bigger Marvel Universe. Just don’t expect Doctor Doom to be visiting the series anytime soon.

Luke Cage, Power Man #17 (February 1974)

A man claiming to be from Stark Industries tricks Luke Cage into robbing the place, leading to a confrontation between Cage and Iron Man. When both heroes realize that Cage was tricked, they wind up teaming up to bring in the bad guy. By the time their adventure is done, Cage has decided that he needs to give himself a superhero name if he wants to fit in with the all time greats. That’s why, from this issue on, the book’s title changes to “Luke Cage, Power Man.”

Luke Cage, Power Man #18 – 20 (May – July 1974)

Cornell Cottonmouth is another featured player in the new Netflix series and he also made his debut in an early issue of the comics. Responsible for a massive heroin ring, Cottonmouth is soon brought down by Luke Cage.

On the Netflix series, Mahershala Ali plays Cottonmouth as the owner of a Harlem nightclub with strong ties to the criminal underworld.

Defenders #17 – 19 (November 1974 – January 1975)

Luke Cage’s first connection to The Defenders happens here. Power Man has taken a job protecting a building and clashes with The Defenders (Dr. Strange, Hulk, Nighthawk and Valkyrie) when the property comes under attack by the Wrecking Crew (Bulldozer, Piledriver, Thunderball and Wrecker). It wouldn’t be long after this first crossover that Luke Cage would start to make regular appearances alongside the Defenders.

The Defenders series, which is expected to crossover Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, will be headed to Netflix in 2017.

Marvel Premiere #21 March 1975

It may seem strange to have a comic on this list that Luke Cage doesn’t even appear in, but this one introduces a character that plays a major role on the new Netflix series: Misty Knight!

An NYPD police lieutenant, Knight is played on the new show by Simone Missick.

Power Man and Iron Fist #50 (April 1978)

With another title shift to his series, Luke Cage was teamed with Iron Fist for what would become one of the more famous pairings in comic book history.

Iron Fist will be the next Marvel series to follow Luke Cage and stars Finn Jones as Danny Rand.

“Power Man and Iron Fist” would run a further 75 issues, concluding in 1986. That definitely wouldn’t mark the end of Power Man and Iron Fist as a team, though!

Alias #1 (November 2001)

Luke Cage is a huge part of the series that introduces the world to Jessica Jones: former Avenger and current private investigator. The full series, which ran for 28 issues, often focuses on an evolving relationship between Cage and Jones and, for anyone interested in the comic book equivalent of the Marvel Netflix series, there’s simply no better starting point.

New Avengers #1 (January 2005)

Following his work on Alias, Brian Michael Bendis took over the core Avengers book with a title called New Avengers. When a new group of heroes comes together to thwart a massive supervillain prison break, a new Avengers come together. The book launched with a lineup that includes Captain America, Spider-Man, Sentry, Spider-Woman and, of course, Luke Cage.