This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on October 28, 2016.
If you’re a fan of Marvel’s Netflix series, then the odds are good that you have already finished Cage. It’s another installment in a successful line of series taking the style and cohesive universe of Marvel Studios to the streets of New York City. While the debate between whether A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Daredevil, or Cage is the best hit to date, they’ve all succeeded in creating killer casts and providing new spins on superhero stories in live action settings. So when you’re not arguing over which series is your favorite, what is there to do next?
It’s probably time to hit the source material. We’ve already provided a list of essential Luke Cage stories here, and you should definitely check them all out if you dug Cage (especially New Avengers #22, which absolutely kills it). However, Luke is part of a much bigger universe and the things that appeal to us about his stories extend far beyond his character. In fact, they extend beyond the Marvel Universe in some instances. Whether you were a fan of the brutal hand-to-hand combat or social consciousness of the series or the connections between these characters, there are some comics out there that are bound to satisfy you while waiting for me.
So click ahead to discover five comics that we at ComicBook.Com highly recommend checking out to all Cage fans.
The Immortal Iron Fist
Writers: Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja and others
It’s hard to talk about Luke Cage without discussing the other classic Hero for Hire: Danny Rand a.k.a. The Immortal Iron Fist. There are a lot of great Iron Fist comics out there and you’re sure to hear more about them in the months to come, but if we could only recommend one, this is it. Not only does it feature some of the absolute best talents in comics today, but it offered a story that traveled from the streets of New York City to the heights of mystical Shang-Chi and a massive martial arts without ever missing a beat. While the focus is on Danny, this story also features some wonderfully on point appearances from Cage as well.
To top it all off, this is the sort of comic that manages to blend its fast-paced action and the Marvel universe with some concern for real issues. Iron Fist isn’t left alone to be a CEO and martial arts master. He has to confront the responsibilities that come with both of those roles. It’s not easy being Danny or Iron Fist in this comic, and the stories stemming from both identities are excellent.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
One of the most fascinating elements of Cage is how it makes superpowered crime seem mundane. At the end of the day, robbery is robbery and murder is murder. Nowhere has that idea been made more clear than in the pages of Powers which follows a pair of ordinary (or mostly ordinary, at least) police officers tasked with investigating crimes committed by superpowered individuals. While the TV adaptation of this series was met with mixed reviews, the comics series is pure gold.
Each case is an excellent example of detective-style storytelling and the creators never go down the same road twice. Heroes and villains are all capable of making mistakes and doing the wrong thing, and sometimes ordinary humans get involved in this extraordinary mix as well. It’s all about the matter-of-fact nature surrounding crime and human nature. If seeing Luke Cage’s redemption story and the mixed motives of Cottonmouth appealed to you, then Powers will be right up your alley.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: David Aja and Annie Wu
If you thought you’d heard the last of the team that created The Immortal Iron Fist earlier, you were wrong. While that series helped to launch Fraction and Aja into stardom, it was their work on Hawkeye that secured their pedestals within Marvel fandom forevermore. Everything we said about how they tackled Iron Fist goes double for Hawkeye. The action, mixed up Marvel antics, and social conscious are all on full display here.
But the number one way this series connects with Cage is how it respects its hero as a human with interests of his own. Hawkeye is struggling to live in New York City and carve out his own life in this comic, outside of being an Avenger. In the same way that Cage wants to protect his neighborhood and live a good life, Clint Barton tries to tackle being a good man on the street here. The mix of self-deprecating humor and day-to-day difficulties make this series one that is hard to resist and easy to relate to.
Creator: Michel Fiffe
This one is primarily about the punching. In creator Michel Fiffe’s love letter to the superhero comics of his youth, he pulls from a variety of sources at both Marvel and DC Comics. The one thing he always excels at is making the action stick and providing it by the boatload in every issue.
While the character Man Head is a riff on Bronze Tiger of the Suicide Squad, his nose to the grindstone approach and hard-hitting tactics with enemies are bound to remind readers of Luke Cage at his best. Both this team leader and all of his cohorts tell excellent stories of revenge that any fan of Cage ought to appreciate.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
What list of comics recommendations based on Cage would be complete without a mention of Alias. This is the series that both introduced Cage’s most famous love interest Jessica Jones, but helped to pull the man himself back into the mainstream of Marvel Comics. The stories here helped build to the introduction of both characters to the Avengers, something that we may still see someday at Marvel Studios.
But in the meanwhile, you can enjoy these comics for their smart take on mysteries in a superpowered universe and how they examine what life is like for individuals without special abilities. Alias takes care to see how regular folk are affected and what heroes must do to protect them. That’s the kind of challenge that lies at the heart of Cage and it’s easy to see how a series like this could have impacted the Netflix series we were all lucky enough to enjoy this month.
So, what other comics do you think fans of Cage ought to check out? Share your suggestions in the comments below.