Or “Sweet Christmas.”


He was born Carl Lucas in the streets of New York’s roughest neighborhood.  Bad decisions and bad friends led him to Seagate Prison, where a freak chemical accident changed his fortunes forever.  Returning to New York with a new name, steel-hard skin, and a desire to keep others from treading his path to near-destruction, Luke Cage became Power Man, fighting the good fight in his own inimitable way, and proving that sometimes street-smarts can take you as far as raw Tony Stark intellect.  Last issue, the unthinkable happened, as the loss of his beloved baby caused Luke to go to Norman Osborn, giving up everything to save his child…  Can a simple offer that can’t be refused be the nail that ends the heroic career of the former Power Man?

Previously, on New Avengers:   When Luke Cage accepted a job working for Matt Murdock, NA1.jpghe had no way of knowing that his life would change forever.  A drunken evening with Jessica Jones left him a father, and a fateful fight on the Raft left him an Avenger.  The superhero Civil War left him a leader, and the battles thereafter made him a criminal.  But nothing could shock Luke more than finding out that his friends, his associates had been replaced by shape-shifting alien Skrulls.  Luke’s paranoia proved correct, as the team discovered that events HAD, indeed, been manipulated from the outside, and they were reunited with their former teammates in battle against alien invaders.  When the fight was over, a panicked Jessica Jones realized that she has left their baby with Edwin Jarvis, who had himself been replaced by a Skrull.  With no other options, Luke turned to Norman Osborn for help, agreeing to work for the former Goblin in return for his resources and assistance finding baby Dani…

In a fit of irony, Luke, Norman, Venom and Bullseye return to the scene of the “crime,” as they visit The superhuman incarceration facility at the Raft to interogate Skrull prisoners.  The aliens hang tough, so Norman turns to plan B.  “Mac?” he asks, and Venom literally bites the head off one of them.  “We didn’t all know each other!” stammers the other in a hilarious moment, and spills the beans on their hidden meeting place, the warehouse where  all these flashbacks have been taking place for the last couple of years.  Luckily, the p.o.w. reveals that it takes more than one Skrull to activate the telportation device that would get them off-world.  We cut to Jarvis, furtively entering the warehouse in the dark, hoping to find a friend to take him home.  “GIVE ME THE BABY.” orders Luke Cage from the darkness.  “”You’ll kill me,” mutters Jarviskrull, and Luke stand up.  “I will if you don’t.  I promise you.”  Luke takes his baby back, and is surprised when Jarvis’ head bursts open.  A couple of blocks away, Bullseye smiles to himself, having made the killshot with a powerful sniper rifle.

Back at Avengers Tower, Luke and Jessica are overjoyed to have her back and Jessica tells Norm that she has no desire to be a superhero.  “My deal was with your husband,” he says, and lets them go to their room.  “You sure this is the road you want to go down?” asks Jessica, and Luke nods.  “Gotta make my intentions clear.”  He returns to Norman with his hand outstretched.  “I took this off of the Wrecker.  This is his crwobar…  You should feel what’s goin’ on with this thing.”  I see it coming, and my heart leaps as Bullseye asks, “It got powers or something?”  “Something like that,” replies Cage, smashing Bullseye’s head open, then backhanding VEnom so hard that the symbiote literally explodes.  He holds out the bar as we see Ms. Marvel and Jessica flying away into the Nework skies.   “So you’re a liar,” says Osborn, and to his credit, he doesn’t seem intimidated.  “And you’re a I could never join whatever $#!+ you’re selling here.”  Luke tells him that saving Danielle earned Norman a pass, and that sole reason is why his skull and neck are still attached.  Norman taunts him about having no honor, and for a second I think he’s going to die.  Luke instead smashes the office window and leaps away, Hulk-style.  Back at Captain America’s apartment, the assembled New Avengers coo over Danielle, and see the press conference where Norman announces his Dark Avengers.  Ronin is absolutely enraged to see the team, especially Bullseye in his old Hawkeye suit.  “We’re the Avengers.  WE TAKE IT BACK!” roars Clint, and the stage is set for battle royale…

This issue was a very strong one, though it may be my Daddy instincts kicking in.  Luke Cage skirted the line, but didn’t cross it, even where I might have.  The moment where Norman taunts him is incredibly vivid, and the pure rage in Cage’s eyes makes me wonder if he won’t just squot the Goblin like a punkin.  But I’m glad he didn’t.  Billy Tan’s art still maintains a lot of the scratchy “hey, look at all the lines!” hallmarks that I dislike so much in Leinil Yu’s art, but has greater clarity and espression, giving us a cocky Bullseye, a resolved Cage, and a Norman Osborn so crazy and so self-righteous that you want to kill him with a crowbar yourself.  Even baby Danielle looks good under his pen, and Bendis once again shows why he’s so great with stree-level characters, giving Luke dignity, and making it clear that he’s no happy with the depths to which he’s sunk, but that he will do anything to save his family.  This is a very good issue, easily worth the soon-to-be 4 bucks that Marvel wants to charge.  New Avengers #49 earns an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I can’t wait to see next issue’s big smackdown.  I kinda hope Bullseye dies, though…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Ricco
    February 5, 2009 at 5:02 pm — Reply

    It’s been so long since Luke has been bad-ass. When Norman told him that he’d have to tell his son he had no honor I expected Luke to rip his head off.

  2. Brother129
    February 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm — Reply

    For me…one of the best things to come out of Bendis’ Avengers run is the elevation of Luke Cage’s character. I think BMB’s best Avengers moments involve Luke Cage.

  3. The Dude
    February 5, 2009 at 6:37 pm — Reply

    In my opinion Luke Cage is one of the best characters Marvel has. It’s nice to see a writer giving him proper respect.

    Too bad this book jumped to 3.99, I had to drop it.

  4. February 5, 2009 at 10:13 pm — Reply

    No lie, there. If it wasn’t featuring some of my faavorite characters, I’d drop it too, even with my company discount…

  5. Rome
    February 8, 2009 at 3:35 pm — Reply

    These prices are hurtin! But I begrudgingly shelled it out, and was not disappointed with this one. If it remains at $3.99 it might get cut from my pull list after the big issue #50.

  6. Roger
    February 20, 2009 at 6:38 am — Reply

    Well, Bendis reads no comics excepts his.

    If Cage wants to find his child, why doesn’t he asks to 3-D man or Skrull Kill Krew, experts Skrull-trackers and S-killers?

    I would like to be as benevolent as you. But Luke Cage was born B-list and will die B-list, in my opinion. No matter how tooough and serioooous Bendis want to make him. Go back to the Disco era, Cage.

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