Back in 2021, Marvel announced a 3-issue Luke Cage: City of Fire miniseries from writer Ho Che Anderson and a rotating team of artists including Farid Karami, Ray-Anthony Height, and Sean Damien Hill only to abruptly cancel the miniseries less than two weeks before the release of the first issue. The prevailing assumption was that given the political subject matter of the series, exacerbated by the current tense political climate, the publisher got cold feet. In a CBR interview with Anderson, the subject was brought up and the creator basically confirmed the reason divulging more details:

It really threw me off. I had a couple of really dark nights of the soul, where I thought, “Why am I involved in work which can be summarily thrown away at the drop of a hat?” I thought, “Why am I doing this? I don’t need to do this in my life. I could do something else.” I came around to reality because I can’t do jack shit. So I kind of have to do this. It made me question my involvement in comics and storytelling in general. It was dark. I’ve gotten over it now. Like I said, I’m continuing to work with them. I’m still enjoying myself, and I managed to figure out a way to repurpose City of Fire for its own creation, which I’m super excited about. But I will never do work for Marvel that is about anything other than “The villain of the week wants to take over the world.”

I felt like we had an opportunity to tell a story that had some real-world relevance. The fact that it got shut down so quickly told me unequivocally that that is not what they want. They don’t want that at all. They just want safe material. So if they hire me again, that’s what I’ll give them. I’ll give them safe material. But it’s a shame because I feel like we had an opportunity to tell a story that had some relevance, and they would have been on the right side of history for being strong enough to tell the story. So it’s a missed opportunity.

Anderson also revealed that the project was initially a short story but expanded to a miniseries with Marvel excited about the project.

But Luke Cage was painful, man. I was so excited and cautious because Marvel’s got a history. I think we’re all aware. You know, poke the bear, and it could be dangerous. But at the same time, I was still excited to be working with them. They approached me and were like, “Do you want to write a short story for us?” I had just done an interview with the [Cartoonist] Kayfabe guys, and I’d asked Ed Piskor to hook me up, which he had done very graciously. So they approached me about doing this short story, and I came up with a Luke Cage story. Five pages. [It was] essentially what would happen if the mother of George Floyd hired Luke Cage to protect Derek Chauvin, her son’s murder. That was where the premise sprang from.

Anderson recounts that Marvel gave him a call and he thought it was in trouble but it was just to say the mini-series had a lot of plots lines. However, “I knew I was dealing with a major corporation like Marvel. I didn’t choose to push it as far as I could have. But apparently, I still pushed it too far.”

Marvel was fine with the pitch, the scripts, the art for the first issue and about half of issues 2 and 3. Anderson even did some lettering notes. While he was aware that the subject matter was timely and potentially painful, all seemed to be going well until he was asked to go on a Zoom call, and they told him it was cancelled. 

Despite the cancellation, Ho Che Anderson still has projects in the works with Marvel, noting that editor Wil Moss is “a really cool guy. We’re very creatively in sync.” He also has a good relationship with e-i-c CB Cebulski. 

Evidently the “no hard feelings” attitude has continued, as Anderson recently wrote Killmonger and Spider-Man, and is slated to do a Blade short story. 

Ho Che Anderson