From a comment at Techland:

I have to say, I never thought much of Luke Cage. He always seemed like the “Oh, we need a black guy” guy.


  1. Its sad and surprising how racist some people on the comic boards can be. I think its all do to the anonymity of the boards. Half the stuff “written” on the boards they would never have the guts to say in person.

  2. If “Church” was reacting to Cage as written by Bendis in NEW AVENGERS, what else is there to say about him? Bendis’s Cage is much more an outline of a character than an actual functioning one. His literally unbreakable skin, as written by Bendis, makes him invulnerable; his wife and daughter make him a vaguely sympathetic character; but he has a rudimentary personality and doesn’t do anything, except interact with his wife.

    As written by Bendis, Cage is a hero only because he can’t think of anything else to do.


  3. First, Luke Cage isn’t a person.

    Second, while comics is full of racist homophobic sexist dumbasses, and this person could be one of them, I could hear someone saying this is an engaged, non-racist way.

  4. I don’t know that that comment was as much racist in and of itself than it was an indictment of Marvel creating such a character in the 1970s to cash in on the Blaxploitation movement at the time.

    But that’s just my take, I guess. In the world of racist, homophobic and poorly composed blog comments, that one’s pretty innocuous.

  5. I loved Luke Cage as a kid and while I disagree with the quoted comment entirely, I don’t see how it is racist. Racism is an actual belief about the content of the character of all the individuals of another race — it’s actually very easy to detect in written form. But it’s not so easy to divine by ESP, so I would suggest don’t even go there.

  6. PJ and Laroquod, spot on comments.

    spike writes: “Half the stuff ‘written’ on the boards they would never have the guts to say in person.”

    Why the quotes on “written”? These comments are actually “written” and not “spoken” on the internet. And why would you actually want someone to go around saying these things? Every individual has their own set of prejudices, I think, handed down to us through our upbringing … some of us do a better job at outgrowing them … but the “say it in person” remark is pretty lame. It’s on a par with writers and illustrators saying “If you can do better …” when they hand in a lousy comic book.

    I always like Luke Cage, since his appearance in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #123 (I think). I could never understand “Sweet Christmas,” however … nor Nick Fury’s “yellah-bellied yahoo” either.

  7. So making a comment that Luke Cage isn’t much of a character beyond the color of his skin is suddenly racist? I’d say that’s more of an indictment on Cage’s writers than racism, but I guess making such a comment automatically makes me a racist as well.

  8. Maybe this comment is more an indictment of Doctor Doom? It sounds in character for him.

    Michael Hoskin: “Yeah, it’s as if they were writing for kids or something…”

    Excellent snark. Unnecessary. Condescending. Pointless. But that’s what makes internet snark so gratifying to the “author.”

  9. Am I reading this right? The Beat’s reporting on a single fire-and-forget post on a message board?

    Weird way to stir up discussion.

  10. I’m not altogether sure what this guy was getting at, but it reads to me like he probably meant “I don’t think Luke Cage is a very good character, and I blame that on the fact that he was created in a spirit of tokenism.” At the very least, that’s a perfectly plausible reading.

  11. One of my favorite comicbook series in the 70s/80s Luke Cage and Iron Fist: Hero for Hire. Mary Jo Duffy did some great writing, and really loved the art of Kerry Gammil in those issues, too.

  12. Rich, I don’t know where you had your trouble understanding, I never implied that I wanted people to go around and say things, I said that they would only say or write racist crap with the safety of the internet and not out in public where they can be rebuked and have to actually face people that they are insulting or attacking.

  13. Paul O’Brien’s absolutely right, but the very fact that we don’t know exactly what the guy meant illustrates how silly it is to link to a three-line, anonymous message board post AS IF IT’S SOMETHING MEANINGFUL.

    On the other hand, The Beat definitely seems to be pushing a “tut tut, comics community!” angle with the title they picked. What’s up with that, The Beat? Is there some bigger story about racism within the comics biz to be told here or is it just a case of cynicism du jour?

  14. “Tut Tut, Comics Community”

    It should be done in the style of a British housewife from the 1950s.

    “That DC comics keeps a dirty step you know”.

  15. @Nick: Love the Jo Duffy/ Kerry Gammill Power Man and Iron Fist series.

    As for other criticism about Luke Cage, he was definitely a creation of his times — but he was still important to thousands of comic book readers as someone they could identify with. (The way he’s been written over the last 7 years or so, possibly not so much — he definitely doesn’t resonate with me much anymore. I still have hope that Jeff Parker will handle him well, though.)

  16. I do not know if it was intended to be racist, In Dr. Doom’s defense the only other African American or “Black” if you will superhero at the time that I can think of in the marvel universe was The Falcon and he can fly on his own if memory serves me correctly so it was not a stretch for Doom to assume it was Cage.

  17. The comment quoted doesn’t read as racist to me – I need context, but comics in the bronze age made many attempts at creating characters who were not white American males and generally ended up with goofy, tiara wearing “Sweet Christmas!” shouting stereotypes, which Cage really was for some time – and in many ways, still is. Pointing that out isn’t racist, and the panel accompanying the commet really drives the point home.

    I’m of Russian descent but I have no problem saying that Colossus has often been portrayed as a “Tovarisch” spouting token, just as Nightcrawler shouted “Unglaublich!” with alarming regularity, as if there was some concern readers would forget he was German.

    This poor portrayal of minorities wasn’t, I think, for lack of trying; it was a well-intentioned movement intended to bring diversity into comics, but it was a movement spawned by a very insular community, consisting almost entirely of white American males who were trying to get their message out to a not-terribly-enlightened world while also crafting stories about living planets and Dr. Doom and such, all crammed into 22 pages and woking under stricter editorial guidelines and the dreaded Code.

    What’s important now is either evolving these characters past their cookie-cutter roots, or replacing them with more well-rounded, realistic characters of diverse origin.

  18. judgeJoe: “…the only other African American or “Black” if you will superhero at the time that I can think of in the marvel universe was The Falcon …”

    BZZZZZ! Wrong. You’re forgetting The Black Panther, another favorite of mine. I loved Don McGregor’s “Panther’s Rage” in JUNGLE ACTION.

  19. First off, I have a whole bunch of crazy black friends, so Dr. Doom would never know who was showing up in MY Fantasti-Car.

    Secondly, sure there are some crazy rascist-y people on boards. If that kind of thing bothers you don’t EVER go to YOUTUBE. I’d have to say the comic scene is much less burdened with crazy rascists. Ours is a kinder, gentler crazy.

    Thirdly, c’mon guys- comic book writers (particularly in the 70s and 80s) are/were not always the worldliest people around. I doubt there are many who intentionally write something stupid. They most often try their best and dork out with un-hip word balloons sometimes.

    Lastly, Black Panther can’t be an “African American” until he renounces his Wakandan citizenship.

  20. While I have no doubt there’s a certain amount of Nerd Racism about, Luke Cage really does suffer from his sole defining trait as being ‘The Black Guy’. Which was actually a pretty special thing back in the 70’s and 80’s and some of the 90’s and I guess a chunk of the 00’s as well, but it doesn’t mean you can’t call the concept out on it.

  21. It’s pretty naughty how you selectively quote the guy (the actual article is about the Old Spice Guy wanting to be Luke Cage):

    “I have to say, I never thought much of Luke Cage. He always seemed like the “Oh, we need a black guy” guy.

    So it’s telling that I REALLY want OSG to be Luke Cage in the Avengers movie.”

    So it seems to me he’s saying that he’s always seem the character as a token but he really wants to see him in the avengers movie – hardly strikes me as a racist.

  22. “BZZZZZ! Wrong. You’re forgetting The Black Panther, another favorite of mine. I loved Don McGregor’s “Panther’s Rage” in JUNGLE ACTION.”

    In addition (just to play “King of the Continuity Mountain” for a bit), Doom had even *encountered* T’Challa in an old ASTONISHING TALES episode that was at least *published* prior to the Cage story. And since Doom’s plot in that astonishing tale involved his invasion of Wakanda, I think it’s safe to say that, all-concealing costume or not, the Good Doctor had a pretty strong suspicion that the Black Panther was really truly black.

    Of course Black Panther wasn’t usually seen as “crazy,” nor was the Falcon. So clearly “crazy,” not just “black,” is what tipped Doom off. Nicht wahr?

  23. “Lastly, Black Panther can’t be an ‘African American’ until he renounces his Wakandan citizenship.”

    So, you’re saying he can’t be a black man, either?

    Go back and check judgeJoe’s comment: “…the only other African American or “Black” if you will …” Maybe I misread that, but T’Challa is definitely a “Black” man.

  24. Heidi, if you need examples of seeminjgly normal comics fans having “Oops, my racism is showing!” moments, let me know and give me a couple hours. Trust me, I can find far better (Better? Worse? Better at being worse?) than this.

  25. Before we jump at the racism op, though, Kate, maybe we should ask, “is there a story here?” I’m sure I could spend a few hours dredging up racist comments on the message boards of any industry.

    Again, this just seems out of nowhere. A few weeks back comic geeks stood up to the Westboro yahoos at Comicon and everyone cheered them on appropriately. Was there too much back-patting in the wake of that for Heidi? It’s a mystery.

  26. rich- Doh, you’re right, judgeJoe said that, and yes he CAN be a black man. Indeed, T’Challa is definitely a “Black” man.

    I’ll pay more attention and be much more serious when joking around.

    Chap has it right… HE CALLED DR.DOOM HONEY!! awesome. I want a t-shirt that says Luke Cage- Crazy Black Friend.

  27. Kate: “Heidi, if you need examples of seemingly normal comics fans having “Oops, my racism is showing!” moments, let me know and give me a couple hours …”


    I’d rather read/discuss comics.