Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Carl Lucas spent his youth in a gang called The Rivals. With his best friend Willis Stryker, he fought the rival gang the Diablos and committed various petty thefts, often on behalf of deformed crimelord Sonny Caputo, a.k.a. Hammer. In and out of juvenile homes throughout his teens, Lucas dreamed of becoming a major New York racketeer until he finally realized how his actions were hurting his family; he sought to better himself as an adult, finding legitimate employment. Meanwhile, Stryker rose through the ranks of crime, but the two men remained friends.
When Stryker's activities angered the Maggia (a.k.a. the Syndicate), he was badly beaten in a mob hit, saved only by Lucas's intervention. When Stryker's girlfriend, Reva Connors, broke up with him in fear of his violent work, she sought solace from Lucas. Convinced that Lucas was responsible for the breakup, Stryker planted heroin (stolen from Cottonmouth's organization) in Lucas' apartment and tipped off the police. Lucas was arrested and sent to prison; contact with his family was sparse due to the resentment of his brother James, Jr., who intercepted Lucas's letters to their father James and eventually led each to believe the other was dead.
In prison, Lucas was consumed by rage over Stryker's betrayal and his father's supposed death, engaging in frequent brawls and escape attempts. Eventually transferred to Seagate Prison off the coast of Georgia, he became the favorite target of sadistic guard Albert "Billy Bob" Rackham, whose brutality ultimately led to a demotion that he blamed on Lucas. Later, research scientist Dr. Noah Burstein recruited Lucas as a volunteer for experimental cell regeneration based on a variant of the Super-Soldier process he had previously used to empower Warhawk.
Burstein immersed Lucas in an electrical field conducted by an organic chemical compound; when he left Lucas unattended, Rackham misused the experiment's controls, hoping to maim or kill Lucas. Lucas's treatment was accelerated past its intent, inducing body-wide enhancement that gave him superhuman strength and durability. He used his new power to escape Seagate and made his way back to New York, where a chance encounter with criminals inspired him to use his new powers for profit.
Adopting the alias Luke Cage and donning a distinctive costume, he launched a career as a Hero for Hire, helping anyone who could meet his price. He soon established an office in Times Square's Gem Theater, where he befriended film student D.W. Griffith. Burstein, aware of his friend's innocence, also relocated to New York and opened a medical clinic, assisted by Dr. Claire Temple, whom Cage began dating. Although Cage would have been content to battle strictly conventional criminals, he soon learned that New York was hardly the place to do so. Stryker himself had become a Maggia agent as Diamondback and died battling Cage. Subsequent opponents included Gideon Mace, an embittered veteran seeking a U.S. takeover who would become a frequent foe; Chemistro, whose Alchemy Gun would be a weapon later used by others, including his own brother after Curtis reformed; the brothers Discus and Stiletto (sons of the warden who was fired after Cage's escape from prison), Shades and Commanche, all criminals with ties to Cage's prison days who would face him repeatedly over the years. Although Cage seemed to have little in common with most of New York's other superhumans, an ill-conceived attempt to collect a fee from a reneging Doctor Doom led him to befriend the Fantastic Four. He was subsequently hired by Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson to capture Spider-Man, the wisecracking adventurer who doubled as Jameson's personal demon, but Cage came to sympathize with Spider-Man and forcibly returned Jameson's deposit, earning a place on the publisher's lengthy list of superhuman personas non grata. Cage also befriended Jessica Jones, a.k.a. Jewel, a young woman whose super-strength and unconventional style matched his own. During a mission in which Orville Smythe duped him into stealing an experimental starsuit from Stark International, Cage followed the example of his new peers and took the codename of Power Man, which eventually brought him into conflict with the original Power Man. Also, he helped Claire in freeing her ex-husband Bill Foster, the Black Goliath, who had come under the control of the Circus of Crime
Shortly afterward, Cage began associating with the loose-knit super-team known as the Defenders, alongside whom he fought the super-strong Wrecking Crew and the racist subversives known as the Sons of the Serpent. When the Thing temporarily lost his superhuman powers, Cage was hired to replace him in the Fantastic Four, but his tenure proved brief after the Puppet Master took control of him to fight his new teammates. Cage continued in solo action against an odd assortment of villains, including the construction saboteur Steeplejack, the vampire pretender Night Shocker, the maddened professional wrestler X the Marvel, the uninspired Maggia agent Mister Fish, mobsters Dontrell "Cockroach" Hamilton and Ray "Piranha" Jones, the racist Wildfire, the vengeance-seeking Mangler and Spear (whose brother had died under Dr. Burstein's treatment), rival crime lords Baron and Big Brother, the obsessive Goldbug, and Zzzax the Living Dynamo. He also resolved the mystery of the heroin that had been used to frame him and brought down crime-boss Cornell Cottonmouth and his organization.
Called to assist the Defenders against the Plantman, Cage began to complain that his participation in their group was interfering with his paying work. Wealthy Defenders member Nighthawk solved this problem by placing Cage on retainer, giving Luke a steady paycheck for his Defenders activities. For some time, Cage served as a core member of the Defenders alongside Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, Nighthawk and the Red Guardian (Dr. Tania Belinskya). Together, they defeated minor threats including the Eel and the Porcupine, and major menaces such as the Headmen and Nebulon, Egghead's Emissaries of Evil and the Red Rajah. Cage felt out of place in the often-bizarre exploits of the Defenders and eventually resigned. Cage believed he was unsuited to teamwork, little realizing how wrong he would be proven months later.
Having obtained proof of Cage's innocence in his original drug charges, the criminal Bushmaster abducted Burstein and Temple, using their safety and the hope of acquittal to blackmail Cage into abducting detective Misty Knight, who had humiliated Bushmaster in an earlier encounter. Cage's efforts led to a fight with Knight's boyfriend, the martial artist Iron Fist, a native of the extra-dimensional city of K'un-Lun and still a newcomer to Earth society; however, upon learning of Cage's situation, Iron Fist and Knight helped him defeat Bushmaster and rescue his friends. In the course of the encounter, Bushmaster forced Burstein to mutate him as he had Cage, but was nonetheless defeated and soon became paralyzed by the process. Cleared of criminal charges, Cage briefly worked for Knight's detective agency Nightwing Restorations but soon elected to join Iron Fist in a two-man team, Heroes for Hire, founded by attorney Jeryn Hogarth and staffed by administrative wunderkind Jennie Royce. Although the streetwise Cage and the unworldly Iron Fist seemed to have little in common, they soon became the best of friends; however, Cage's relationship with Claire Temple proved less durable, and he instead began dating model Harmony Young.
Heroes for Hire
Cage and Iron Fist achieved great success with Heroes for Hire, earning an international reputation and fighting a wide variety of criminals, including the genius Nightshade, the international crime lord Montenegro, Sabretooth and the Constrictor, Warhawk, and the drug lord Goldeneye. They had several struggles involving the nations of Halwan and Murkatesh, including incarnations of Scimitar and the Black Tiger. They occasionally worked alongside fellow street-level heroes such as Spider-Man, Daredevil and Moon Knight, but rarely participated in the larger-scale crises that occupied the likes of the FF and the Avengers; however, their adventures took occasional turns toward the extraterrestrial or the extra-dimensional, areas which held little appeal for the down-to-earth Cage. Their partnership's downfall began when the mysterious government agency S.M.I.L.E. manipulated Cage and Iron Fist into the employment of Consolidated Conglomerates, Inc.; during their first CCI assignment, Iron Fist contracted radiation poisoning. Cage took him to K'un-Lun for treatment. While there, Iron Fist was, unknown to Cage, replaced by a doppelganger of the plantlike H'ylthri race, K'un-Lun's ancient enemies. Soon after their return to the outside world, the doppelganger was destroyed, pummeled by the alien Super-Skrull, as a result of a bizarre scheme engineered by Iron Fist's archenemy, Master Khan. Cage was blamed for the apparent murder of Iron Fist.
A fugitive again, Cage broke contact with his New York friends and relocated to Chicago; but, with Hogarth's help, he was cleared of criminal charges when the real Iron Fist turned up alive. Wanting a new start, Cage abandoned his Power Man guise and began operating out of Chicago as the plainclothes Luke Cage, Hero for Hire; he made arrangements with the Chicago Spectator for exclusive reports of his adventures and frequently worked with detective Dakota North. He soon attracted the interest of the refined assassin Hardcore, an employee of Cruz Bushmaster, son of the very villain whose defeat had cleared Cage's name the first time. Cage learned that Cruz, following in his father's extortion footsteps, had abducted Noah Burstein's wife Emma to force the scientist to re-create the process that had empowered Cage, regardless of how many test subjects suffered in the process. Cruz underwent the procedure himself, but the elder Bushmaster drained the power from his son, reversing his near-catatonia and declaring himself the Power Master; however, Cage teamed with Iron Fist to thwart their plans, freeing the Bursteins while the Bushmasters apparently perished.
While Cage tried to locate his surviving family members with the aid of Dakota North, his brother kept moving his father around to keep Cage away from them. James, Jr. was eventually recruited by the criminal Corporation, whose power-enhancing scientist Doctor Karl Malus mutated him into the superhuman Coldfire. As Coldfire, James, Jr. hoped to be a match for his super-powerful brother, whom he regarded as a threat, and he used his hatred of Cage as a focus for his energy powers. Though James, Jr. worked with the Corporation quite willingly, Malus had James, Sr. held hostage as extra insurance of Coldfire's cooperation. When Cage learned the Corporation was apparently holding his family, he invaded their headquarters and battled Coldfire; however, the brothers ultimately joined forces to rescue their father from Malus, and Coldfire apparently sacrificed himself to destroy the Corporation's headquarters.
A few months later, Cage investigated the murder of Harmony Young and fought her killer, the demon Darklove, alongside Ghost Rider. Not long afterward, the mystic Doctor Druid recruited Cage to serve in his Secret Defenders against the sorcerer Malachi. Cage returned to New York and, deciding his heart was no longer in super heroics, became co-owner of the Gem Theater with his friend D.W. Griffith. Even an invitation from Iron Fist to join a new and expanded Heroes for Hire failed to interest him; yet when the would-be world conqueror called the Master tried to recruit Cage as a spy within Iron Fist's team, destroying Cage's theater in the process, a curious Cage played along. Cage joined Heroes for Hire and served with them for some time while reporting to the Master. Cage himself even began to sympathize with the more benevolent aspects of the Master's goals, and the Master and Cage seemed to become genuinely fond of each other; but in the end, Cage could neither betray his best friend Iron Fist nor reconcile himself to the tremendous loss of life the Master's plans of conquest would entail, and he ultimately helped Heroes for Hire destroy the Master of the World's plans. Cage remained with the group thereafter, and dated a fellow member, the She-Hulk. When the Stark-Fujikawa corporation bought out Heroes for Hire, Cage and Ant-Man were fired because of their prison records, and the rest of the team quit in protest.
Cage, bitten by the hero bug once more, continued to share adventures with Iron Fist and other heroes. Briefly resuming his Power Man identity, he was hired by Moon Knight to join the "Marvel Knights"; but mere days after he joined, the group dissolved following clashes with the forces of Tombstone and Fu Manchu. Deciding that a return to basics was in order, he re-established his Hero for Hire activities, intervening in a gang war between Tombstone and Hammerhead, and soon learned that, despite his international fame, he was almost forgotten on the streets where he had originally made his reputation. He invested his money in a bar and set about ridding his immediate neighborhood of criminal elements, deciding that the business of world-saving was best left to others.
Jessica, Marriage, and the New Avengers
After a one-night stand with a drunken Jessica Jones, now a private investigator, Cage's life was briefly thrown into disarray by Jones's reaction to the fling; but the two made peace while working as bodyguards for Matt Murdock, whose public denial of his Daredevil costumed identity cost him a bit of Cage's respect. Shortly afterward, Cage extended emotional support to Jones when she was forced to revisit past abuses by the villainous Purple Man, and Cage's feelings for her grew. When Jones revealed that she was pregnant from their tryst, she and Cage moved in together. Soon afterward, Jones became a superhuman consultant with the Daily Bugle, where Jameson's ire at Cage has by no means dwindled over the years.
Cage was recruited by Captain America into a new incarnation of the Avengers after a massive prison break on Rykers Island and proving himself to Cap.
Jessica and Cage are now the parents of an unnamed daughter and have gotten married. At the start of the Civil War Luke sent both Jessica and his daughter to Canada to avoid registration, though he himself refused to leave. S.H.I.E.L.D. forces came to arrest him at the stroke of midnight despite not having used his powers since the Act went into effect, he fought his way to safety with the help of Captain America, the Falcon, and Iron Fist (posing as Daredevil), and was a dedicated member of Captain America's "Secret Avengers" until Cap's surrender to U.S. authorities.
After the events of the superhuman Civil War, Jessica returned with their baby from Canada due to horrific death of their good friend Captain America (Steve Rogers). Luke Cage and Spider-Man rounded up some of the remaining unregistered superhumans; Iron Fist (Daniel Rand), Spider-Woman (who was really the Skrull queen Veranke), Wolverine, and Doctor Strange to form a new team of New Avengers. Taking refugee in Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, Cage tasked the New Avengers with opposing the numerous escapees from the Raft prison while uncovering and exposing the truth behind the Raft breakout, the corruption in S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA, the Civil War, and finding the connection between each of them.
Cage and his comrades were often opposed by authorities and the Mighty Avengers for operating as illegal, unregistered superhumans. These actions caused him to develop a strong sense of caution, and even distrust when associating with registered superheroes such as Falcon. He initially found great difficulty trusting Clint Barton (formerly Hawkeye) for wanting to join the New Avengers' cause due to the former costumed crime fighter's original ties to the founding Avengers and why he wanted to work with a group of strangers instead of his friends. Doctor Strange however, proved to Cage Barton's loyalty and trustworthiness causing Cage to accept him as teammate and a friend.
Cage proved to be an effective field leader, but was sometimes confronted with difficult situations that required additional tactical knowledge to determine the course of action. The New Avengers rescue mission in Japan and the time misplaced Invaders are two examples of this. He and Jessica eventually named their newborn daughter "Danielle" after his best friend Daniel Rand, whom they also declared as her godfather. Danielle and Jessica are, and continue to be, Cage's inspiration to his super-heroic activities.
In course of the New Avengers' mission to rescue Echo in Japan, the team discovered the Hand's leader, Elektra, to be a Skrull impostor after Echo killed her in battle. Cage and his teammates became very uneasy due to the alien's ability to perfectly impersonate any person and were not stray of the idea of there being more Skrulls on Earth. Suspicion became distrust as many of his teammates were no longer sure of one another's identity; Cage included. The team was soon betrayed by Spider-Woman (Queen Veranke), who stole the Skrull body in order to present it to Tony Stark and cut her ties to the New Avengers and new recruit, Echo.
After Strange's sanctum was stormed by the Hood and his underworld of superhuman criminals, Cage relocated with the rest of his team to one of Iron Fist's leased apartments, but his wife and child took refugee with the Mighty Avengers at Avengers' Tower. Angry that his wife had abandoned him with his child, he opposed her outside of the tower on her decision to register with the law and end all contact with him. Discovering she had no intention of returning with him with their child due to a dangerous, and unsuitable environment, Cage stormed back to his team's new headquarters. He was very disturbed with Jessica's decision. Due to the discovery of the Skrull invader, he was very worried about his family's safety; as well as his marriage.
After a Skrull ship crashed in the Savage Land, Luke took the New Avengers there, confronting the Mighty Avengers. During the battle, Luke ripped open the Skrull ship, only to have a large group of 1970's versions of several heroes, including himself, emerge claiming to be the real heroes. However they were exposed as Skrulls, thanks to a device made by Reed Richards. The Avengers flew back to New York and meet up with the other heroes to fight the final battle with the Skrulls in Central Park. During the midst of the fight Jessica Jones came into the battle and fought with the heroes, while admitting that Luke was right about the Skrulls and apologized. After the Skrulls surrendered the Skrull impersonating Jarvis disappeared with their daughter, leaving Jessica desperate and upset.
After the battle ended, Captain America (James "Bucky" Barnes) organized a meeting with the New Avengers at his home, offering it as their base of operations. When Luke, Jessica and Carol arrived at Bucky's home, the New Avengers contacted the Fantastic Four and Iron Fist to begin searching for Danielle. They attacked various villains such as A.I.M., HYDRA, Electro and Red Skull for any information regarding the Skrull Jarvis, thinking he might have contacted them for a way to escape New York City, possibly the earth. Eventually they found a Skrull pretending to be an ex-SHIELD agent at a bar. After a brief confrontation, the Skrull was about to reveal where Danielle was when another agent shot the Skrull in the head, leaving Jessica convinced Skrull Jarvis was going to kill Danielle. Meanwhile, with the rest of the New Avengers unaware, Luke asked Norman Osborn for help in their search, agreeing do to anything he asked of him. Osborn helped Cage recover Danielle, but when Bullseye killed the Jarvis-Skrull, Cage reneged on his offer to serve Osborn and returned to the New Avengers. Cage was attacked by The Hood's Gang when Harrow use his power drainer on the New Avengers. Afterwords Cage went into cardiac arrest forcing him to ask Osborn for help due to his unbreakable skin and the fact that he possessed the disruptor. Cage is later saved by the Avengers before he could be interrogated by H.A.M.M.E.R. But during the operation a bomb is placed in his heart forcing The Wasp and Doctor Strange to save him.
After Osborn was defeated in the Siege, Steve Rogers became the nation's top cop. Taking over the Avengers organization, he offered Luke a spot on the team. Unfortunately, Luke had no interest in joining up with another government-driven Avengers. Despite Steve assuring him that it was all on a voluntary basis, Luke considered taking the offer to be a giant step backwards.
As a solution, Tony sold the old Avengers Mansion to Cage for one dollar (which he had to borrow from Iron Fist), and Cage was allowed to operate his own independent Avengers team with minimal interference from the government. He, his wife Jessica, Iron Fist, and several other heroes soon moved into the mansion and set up shop.
Luke also took on the job of running the Thunderbolts program for Steve Rogers in order to give super-powered criminals a chance to turn their lives around like he did.
When Daredevil suddenly returned to New York by building a castle out of a destroyed building, Cage was one of the many "street-level" heroes who thought Murdock was getting out of hand. When news that he had a change of heart in his heroism (shown when he mercilessly killed Bullseye) reached his ears, Power Man and Iron Fist went to confront him, but the Man without Fear retreated. Later, while at Rand's restaurant, the two conversed about Murdock's growing 'insanity.'
Avengers vs. X-Men
When it was revealed that the Phoenix Force was heading towards Earth looking for a new host, he answered Captain America's call in invading Utopia. Cage helped Thing fight the Atlantean Namor. He later left the New Avengers to raise his daughter peacefully.
Luke and his Heroes for Hire fought the Plunderer, and after Spider-Man intervened, he and Power Man grabbed a coffee. He insists that the heroes aren't doing enough to keep the world safe. He and his team, now the Mighty Avengers began fighting off Thanos' invasion on Earth. After the initial threat was over, he officially declared the new assembled group to be Avengers.
Powers and Abilities
Burnstein Process: Luke Cage possesses various superhuman physical attributes after undergoing an experiment designed to increases his body's cellular regeneration process.
Superhuman Strength: After undergoing the original experiment, Cage's strength was increased to superhuman levels sufficient to lift approximately 3 tons. Over the years and due to further experiments, Cage's strength has increased substantially and is enough for him to lift 25 tons.
Superhuman Stamina: Cage's muscles generate less fatigue toxins than the muscles of ordinary humans, granting him superhuman stamina. He can exert himself at peak capacity for about 24 hours before fatigue begins to affect him.
Superhuman Durability: Luke Cage's skin is as hard as titanium steel and his muscle and bone tissues are considerably denser than the tissues of an ordinary human, granting him much greater resistance to physical injury than an ordinary human. He can withstand conventional handgun fire at a range of 4 feet and cannot be cut by any blade forged of conventional material, although in the event of required surgery his skin can be lacerated by an overpowered medical laser. He can withstand up to one-ton impacts or blasts of 150 pounds of TNT without serious injury, and is highly resistant to extreme temperatures and electrical shocks. His current level of durability enables him to withstand gun fire at point-blank range, and can withstand being lit on fire without suffering any serious or permanent injuries. He has withstood impacts from superhumans a good deal stronger than him, destructive energy attacks including electricity, and falls from great heights such as ninety story high skyscrapers.
Accelerated Healing Factor: Despite his near invulnerability, it is possible for Cage to be hurt. If injured, he is capable of recovering from mild injuries in 1/3rd the time it would take an ordinary human.
Nick Fury's intel classified him as power level 8, while Captain America (Sam Wilson) and Tony Stark considered him to be a Beta Level Threat.
Skilled Combatant: Cage is a self-taught hand-to-hand combatant with years of street fighting experience. He also says he has had extensive training with Iron Fist. Through him, he has learned to utilize leverage with his strength in order to increase his combat effectiveness against more powerful opponents.
Skilled Athlete: He is also a gifted athlete, even without his superhuman abilities.
Extended Education: Cage is self-educated in the law and speaks several languages.
Strong Speaker: He has proven to be very good at speaking positively, truthfully, and charismatically in front of large audiences. His innate nobility has earned him the respect and friendship from a good number of different persons.
Class 25; Cage's strength has increased substantially after numerous enhancements and is enough for him to lift 25 tons.
Near-Unbreakable Flesh: Since Cage's skin cannot be lacerated by conventional materials, his superhuman durability is a hindrance if he suffers injuries that are too severe for him to heal on his own and require surgery, such as internal injuries. While his skin can be lacerated by a highly powerful medical laser and weapons composed of Adamantium, neither of these would be readily available or easily accessible.
Radiation: As seen in the recent Age of Ultron event, enough exposure to massive amounts of radiation and the resulting burns can kill Cage, if the injuries are extensive enough.
Cage owns a leather jacket which is, like his skin, impervious to virtually any injury; however, he wears it infrequently and is often left with shredded clothing in the wake of his adventures.
Avengers Quinjet, Teleportation through Doctor Strange's magic.
He is currently in possession of the Wrecker's magic crowbar.