|For other uses, see Luke Cage (disambiguation)|
Carl Lucas is the son of James Lucas as well as a childhood friend of Willis Stryker who, while he was still serving as a policeman from Savannah, Georgia, was wrongfully convicted for a crime that he did not commit and sent into Seagate Prison, where he met and fell in love with therapist Reva Connors who tried to make his time in jail easier. During his time inside prison, Lucas was then subjected to an experiment by Noah Burstein to save his life after Albert Rackham tried to kill him, leaving Lucas physically enhanced with superhuman strength and seemingly unbreakable skin. After he escaped from his prison, he changed his name to Luke Cage and then moved to New York City, marrying Connors who agreed to protect him, opening up a bar named Luke's and living in there until Connors' death seemingly due to a random bus crash.
One year later while he was trying to live quietly, Cage came across the private investigator Jessica Jones during her own investigation and started a new relationship with her. However, Cage was then forced to break up their relationship upon discovering that Jones was involved in the murder of his wife due to the influence of Kilgrave.
Following his encounter with Jones and Kilgrave, he then moved from Hell's Kitchen into Harlem in order to build a new life away from Jones, working for Pop. However, his own life became more complicated due to the actions of Cottonmouth, whose henchman Tone killed Pop in cold blood, which had started a war between the pair which only ended when Cottonmouth was discovered dead. Blamed for Cottonmouth's murder, Cage was forced to go on the run, hunted by the New York City Police Department as well as his former friend Willis Stryker, who had returned to tell Cage they were brothers before attempting to kill him. Eventually, Cage cleared his name and defeated Stryker but he was still arrested by the police to continue his original sentence at Seagate Penitentiary.
Being released early by Foggy Nelson, Cage finally returned back home in Harlem and to Claire Temple, only to then uncover all of the secret criminal activities of the Hand while Cage had been investigating the murder of Sean Miller and encountering the Iron Fist. Together with the aid of Jessica Jones and Daredevil, Cage then helped destroy the Hand to protect New York City, while seemingly losing Daredevil.
As Cage's popularity grew within Harlem following the defeat of Cottonmouth and Diamondback, he was forced to deal with the ever-rising threat of Mariah Dillard who had taken over the criminal empire from Harlem's Paradise and found herself targeted by Bushmaster, an enhanced criminal willing to kill innocents to destroy Dillard, while Cage also dealt with his struggling relationship with Claire Temple and the return of his father James Lucas. Cage eventually defeated Dillard and Bushmaster, causing Bushmaster to return to Jamaica without killing Dillard, while she was sent to prison. However, when Dillard was poisoned by her own daughter, Tilda Johnson, Cage was given Harlem's Paradise and became the new crime boss of Harlem, with the intention of protecting Harlem from crime by controlling it.
The Miracle Baby
Carl Lucas was the son of James and Etta Lucas. James was a highly popular and influential preacher in Savannah, Georgia. Etta was unable to have a child for many years, but miraculously she gave birth to Carl, and he was called a "miracle baby." For the years he was growing up, Carl disliked the pressure that came with being called a miracle child, as his father would often use this in his sermons at the Mount Calvary Baptist Church, which would put the unwanted spotlight onto Carl.
Meeting Willis Stryker
During his childhood, Lucas had met Willis Stryker, the son of the secretary for Mount Calvary Baptist Church. Lucas and Stryker soon became close friends throughout their youth, although Lucas began to notice that his own father had seemed to have a strong distain for Stryker, as he also witnessed his mother having an argument with Stryker's mother, threatening to cut off Stryker's education at the Lieber Academy, although Carl did not understand the context of this argument. Despite the tensions between the adults, the young Lucas still liked Stryker's mother, who was always kind to him.
Training with Willis Stryker
As a teenager, Lucas was a skilled athlete and excelled at football. One night, he was jumped and beaten up outside a bowling alley by some street punk. Lucas could not let it pass due to personal pride and asked Willis Stryker to teach him how to box. After receiving his training, Lucas fought his attacker and won.
Months later, Lucas and Stryker stole a red Chevrolet Corvette for a joyride. While driving they began arguing over musicians Prince and Michael Jackson, soon being caught by a police officer and arrested. Lucas' father, being a man of influence was able to persuade the judge to allow Lucas to join the United States Marine Corps instead of going to jail. Stryker did not get the same treatment and he was sent to jail. After finishing his tour of duty as a Force Reconnaissance Marine, Lucas became a police officer in the Savannah Police Department.
Tortured by Rackham
Years later, Lucas was sent into Seagate Penitentiary for a crime that he did not commit. During his first day, he lined up with other prisoners and was scolded by Albert Rackham. Lucas scoffed at Rackham and got hit in the gut, taunting that he was a former sheriff. He sent Lucas, as well as the other prisoners, back to their cells. Lucas spent his first lonely night in his cell weeping in frustration, repeatedly saying his name to remember who he is and to get through prison.
He was sent into an intervention with the other prison mates, where he met Reva Connors, their counselor. She had tried to get as many inmates to change as possible, by having them tell how they ended up in prison in the first place. She started with Squabbles who then detailed his story about how he used to have a job and family, but ever since he wound up in jail, they simply don't care anymore. She turned her attention to Lucas, taking note that he was a former cop while he had worked in Savannah and he agreed, stating despite being a cop, he never put someone in Seagate Prison.
Squabbles then caught up with Lucas, trying to convince him that Connors means no harm. Lucas responded that being reminded of what you once had can turn you mean. Squabbles still kept trying to comfort Lucas, but he just rejected his kind offer of friendship. Later, Rackham, Shades and Comanche were spying on Lucas, who was working out in the courtyard, with Rackham guessing that Lucas had angered someone and was sent here to rot. That day, they decided to keep tabs on Lucas, wanting to see if he is unbreakable.
Later that night, while Lucas was sleeping, he was attacked by both Comanche and Shades. They placed a bag over his head and started punching him, however, Lucas was able to subdue them, flipping Shades over and slamming him with the prison door. Comanche tried to stab him, but Lucas subdued him with ease. Comanche, then, tried to grab him by his back, however, Lucas slammed him out of the cage and against the wall, followed closely by Shades who was also thrown out of Lucas' prison cell; the noise of the fight alerted the guards as they handcuffed Lucas, but Rackham, who was watching the whole time, declared that he found himself a gladiator.
Lucas was locked inside solitary confinement, where he spent hours sitting alone considering why he was being targeted. Once a long period of time had passed, Rackham then visited Lucas in solitary confinement, complimenting his fighting abilities. He made him an offer that if he can fight the other convicts, it will benefit the both of them, promising to bring Lucas some money, extra rations and even conjugal visits. Despite Rackham's promises and the threat of future attacks, Lucas compared the offer to slavery and declined. Rackham just stared and left him in his cell for even longer.
Finding Friends in Prison
Lucas visited the courtyard, the next day, where he saw Comanche. Enraged from what happened the other night, Lucas took one of the weights from the workout equipment and began to charge at him. However, he was stopped by Squabbles, who told him the best way to survive Seagate is to stay away from trouble. They sat down on the bench and started a friendship. They began bonding, having a conversation about Lisa Bonet and various other attractive women.
Lucas had another intervention with Reva Connors, who continued to get the prisoners to talk about their past, noting that one prisoner was always looking for excuses for his mistakes. Connors told the inmates that they must take responsibility for their own actions, but Lucas decided to ask her the same question. He began to ask her to tell the inmates about herself, but she declined to do so, saying that it wasn't her job. He, then, asked Connors if she was doing this out of guilt because of a family member. With that, she dismissed the session, clearly unnerved by Lucas' comments.
While the inmates began to leave, Connors stopped Lucas, noting this was the most he said in the interventions. She confessed that it was his brother who died in prison that she did this job, feeling guilty that she neglected him while she went to get her masters. Lucas felt guilty, but Connors knew that it was only to avoid her questions, asking what was said sparked in him. He answered that he knows what it's like on the other side; Connors asked if he was innocent, but Lucas said it did not matter. Connors believed his innocence, but Lucas stated that he was guilty of a lot of things.
Bonding with Reva
A third intervention was held, where Reva Connors reassured the inmates that the rumors that were being spread about experiments on the other inmates were false. Squabbles stated that an inmate, Jimmy Quinto, would have gotten a reduced sentence if he went through some experiments; the suspicion rises when they take note that Quinto went missing and not reported dead. Connors tried to shut down those rumors, but Lucas took note that Connors works for Seagate Prison and that even if it does exist, she wouldn't admit it. Squabbles then jokingly reassured Lucas that when Connors gives her word, it was obviously serious.
Once the session had been completed, Lucas helped Connors clear up the chairs, apologizing for not being a gentleman sooner. She made it a point that Lucas was not like the other prisoners and that he just made a bunch of mistakes. She asked him why he doesn't talk more often, he, then, told her that the reason he got into the prison was that he talked and trusted the wrong people. When Connors asked Lucas why he still goes to the sessions, Lucas responded that it was because she provided hope, which delighted Connors before he began teasing her yet again.
Then, they were interrupted by Albert Rackham, who called Lucas away from her. Rackham took him to the lounge area and offered more benefits in exchange for fighting for him. Again, Lucas declined the offer, but Rackham gave him an alternative. He told Comanche to stab someone and had the blame put on Squabbles, followed by the guards pinning him down. Rackham threatened to tear everything apart if he doesn't fight for him, hitting Lucas in the gut. Lucas finally agreed and Rackham called the guards to go easy on Squabbles; Lucas, then, demanded that Squabbles be by his side.
Back in the Seagate Prison courtyard, Lucas began being trained in boxing by Squabbles. Lucas asked if he ever boxed, but Squabbles stated that he learned to fight by watching Kung-Fu movies and it helped him through self defense. Squabbles admitted that he liked Jet Li, but Lucas was surprised he chose him over Bruce Lee. Lucas continued his own form of training, joking that he would not use Squabbles anymore.
Lucas and Squabbles entered the arena with Comanche, as he detailed the rewards for winning. Lucas made clear that he didn't want any of those prizes; Comanche asked what kind of "n***a" he was and Lucas said he doesn't like to be called that word. As they continued to the ring, where a fight was already happening, Lucas noticed some cameras directed at the ring; Lucas asked if the fights were being handed out and Comanche welcomed him to the internet. Squabbles was worried about how tough the opponents are, but Lucas shrugged it off and brought up Jet Li.
Stepping in the ring and facing his opponent, Lucas began the first fight, with Albert Rackham and Shades watching closely from the sidelines, his first opponent had the upper hand. Squabbles still gave Lucas encouragement, shouting out boxing strategies. After that, he knocked out his opponent with ease, throwing him from the ring; Rackham smiled at this win. Cage would go through the next slew of opponents and would knock all of them out, one by one, proving himself to be easily the best fighter inside Seagate Prison. After the matches, Rackham took money from the other cops, having bet on Lucas; Noah Burstein, all the while, was watching Lucas.
Getting some time to themselves, Lucas and Squabbles when down to the ring on their own and continued their training there. While Lucas was sparring, Squabbles noted that he was changing, due to the fact that he didn't shower nor cut his hair in a long time. Lucas replied that once he finds a way to get out of Rackham's hands, he will take better care of himself, reassuring him that he has never lost his way. The next day, Lucas was watching TV in the lounge area of Seagate Prison and Reva Connors motioned him to meet her in the other room for a quiet talk on their own.
When Lucas entered the room, Connors was shocked by all the bruises and cuts. Lucas admitted that he got into a fight or two. She took note that Lucas has not been to the group in months, but he responded that plans have changed; Connors was heartbroken that Lucas reverted back to the speechless man. Lucas asked about Noah Burstein, who was watching them talk, and Connors asked if their was anything Lucas would like to talk about, but Lucas denied it. Connors then told Lucas that she knows something is wrong because Squabbles would not talk about her.
Lucas simply put that there were things he couldn't say because it would cost more than his life, Connors just left heartbroken, seeing that getting through to him has failed; as he watched her leave, he noticed Shades approaching Connors. Rackham approached behind Lucas and taunted him, causing Lucas to grab him by the scruff of the neck and violently slam his against the fall in a rage. However, Rackham threatened him that he now has another person to bargain with other than Squabbles. Lucas let him go and Rackham left, laughing at the situation which he was controlling.
- "The guards established a fight ring and the convicts fight until they're broken. What happens to them after that, I don't know. [...] Contact my lawyer. Tell him I'm ready to talk. I'll use him to get me out of this hellhole, and then I'll take Rackham down myself."
- ―Carl Lucas to Reva Connors[src]
While Reva Connors was working at her desk, Lucas snuck up to the door and motioned her to come to him. He asked if she has talked to anyone else, but Connors told him that she only speaks to Noah Burstein. Lucas asked what he does, with Connors answering that he only does psych evaluations to his own patients; with that said, she told Lucas to trust her. Lucas exposed to her the fighting arena held by the corrupt cops where inmates fight until they were finally broken; with their bodies are not found, afterwards.
He also warned Connors that Albert Rackham will go after the ones he cares about, her and Squabbles, begging her to leave. Although Reva objected, Lucas gave Connors the address to his lawyer telling her that afterwards, he would take care of Rackham, himself; she agreed and he left. Then, Lucas came up to Squabbles and told him of the plan to expose Rackham and finally bring down the fighting ring within Seagate Prison. Squabbles agreed to the plan, but as Lucas left, Squabbles was approached by two of Rackham's men. Lucas then got himself a haircut since he got into Seagate.
As he went into his cell, Lucas was surprised when he was then approached by Shades, who complimented Lucas on his fighting in the ring; however, Lucas found his appearance suspicious due to it happening just before his plan would go underway. He was, then, approached by Comanche from behind, demanding to know why Lucas wanted out of the fighting arena, admitting that they got the information through Squabbles by force. Admitting that they were not happy that Lucas planned on exposing Seagate, Comanche noted that Rackham wished him to either be killed or locked in solitary, so they then beat him up until he was severely injured.
Lucas was sent to the infirmary, being treated by Noah Burstein, and put under life support. Reva Connors came in to visit him, devastated at the state that Lucas was in. Burstein gave Connors the news that he was dying, she then informed Lucas that Squabbles died trying to keep their information secret. Connors demanded that Burstein put Lucas under the experiment; Burstein objected, stating that he would probably die from the experience, but Connors demanded that he do it for her. Burstein agreed, asking Connors to take a trip home, then went up to Lucas, informing him that this is going to be a different treatment.
Burstein put Lucas in a tank, injected his shoulder with a syringe, and attached two cuffs, a tiara and a breathing tube, telling him that he would likely soon die as a result. He closed the tank and went to his computer, starting the procedure and filling the tank with clear liquid. As he began scanning Lucas, Albert Rackham busted in, demanding the whereabouts of Lucas. Burstein tried to stop him, but Rackham pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill Lucas for ratting him out. He turned up the heat in the tan and overloaded it, causing the lights in the room to burst into sparks as the water quickly boiled.
Submersed inside the boiling liquid, Lucas screamed in agony as his injuries turned purple and then vanished, all healing instantaneously. Rackham's attempt to murder Lucas backfired on him, however, and the entire tank exploded, consuming Lucas in the flames. Lucas came out of the ruins of the tank and got to his feet, fully healed from all the injuries given to him by Shades and Comanche. He took note of the changes in his body before he moved around and looked at Burstein coughing and the dead body of Rackham, who had been thrown backwards by the blast and had cracked his skull.
The alarms went off, reacting to the explosion, in frustration of no way out of the situation and believing that he would be blamed for everything that had happened, including Rackham's death, Lucas punched the wall, causing it to crack severely without experiencing any harm or discomfort. Lucas discovered that he had been physically enhanced as a result of Burstein's experiment. Desperate to be free at long last, Lucas then repeatedly punched the wall until he broke a hole through it and escaped Seagate Prison, jumping into the sea and swimming back towards the shore before he could be discovered.
Lucas finally reached land and into someone's back yard, where he noticed someone's laundry drying. As Lucas was wearing nothing but the underwear he wore for the experiment, he took the bright yellow shirt and blue pants, while tying a chain to it like a belt, but he had clearly forgotten about the tiara he had around his head. As he walked off, he looked at his reflection, stating that he looked foolish, as he took off the tiara. He went to the nearest phone booth and called the only person he believed could help him, Connors, as they then arranged to meet in a motel to try and figure out what to do next now that Lucas was a criminal on the run from the law.
A New Life
Relationship with Reva Connors
Lucas met Reva Connors at the nearest motel, where he began to shave in the bathroom, discovering his enhanced strength made it difficult to use the shaving cream without destroying it. He came out completely clean shaven, leaving only a goatee and his head now bald. Connors deleted any records on Lucas as he asked her about the experiments given by Noah Burstein's experiment. She stated that it was a chemical bath that was meant to heal people at an accelerated rate, meaning that Albert Rackham's tampering with the tank and causing the bath to be overheated must have accidentally caused Lucas' new found abilities.
When Lucas noted that he and Squabbles had previously asked her about the experiments and she had denied them, Connors promised that she would tell him everything that he needs to know, eventually, stating that his records were pulled up because he wasn't always a convict and she was not always Seagate Prison's counselor. Lucas thanked Connors for saving him and she thanked Lucas for changing her before Lucas leaned in and kissed Connors softly. Connors then noted that as he was on the run, Lucas would need to adopt a new name for his new life which he would be starting with her.
She asked him what his new name would be and he responded with his father's favorite bible verse from the book of Luke and his quote that a free man would never be caged, thus, Luke Cage was born. Connors took Cage to Pop's Barber Shop in Harlem where he was introduced to Pop. When Cage explained what he was, Pop found the story very shaky, but he simply ignored it. Cage came to the shop, asking for a job, and lifted a refrigerator with no effort in front of Pop's eyes. Pop decided to keep the secret between the two of them, as Cage stated that he owed him one.
Losing Reva Connors
Eventually, the two got married, but later on, Reva Connors was tragically killed, seemingly in a bus accident. Believing that there was more to the case than was being revealed to him, Cage dedicated much of his life to learning more about the incident so he could find whoever was responsible. He was even dragged out of the MTA by eight guards when he angrily confronted the administrator there, Serena Grier, to find out more about the crash and she was unable to calm him down. However, he did find a clue that Connors' death was not an accident when he found instructions in an envelope of her's that lead him to a warehouse at the corner where she died to dig up something hidden under the foundation, which he found was empty.
Opening Luke's Bar
Cage opened a bar in New York City called Luke's, named after himself, where he employed Roy Healy as a bartender alongside him, taking great care of the bar and constantly ensuring it was as clean as possible. While working at the bar, Cage tried to keep a low profile, avoiding complicated relationships and dealings with the police; he did, however, begin a sexual relationship with Gina, whom he had previously flirted with in the bar. As Cage looked out of his apartment window at the city one night, Gina walked over to him wearing only underwear and they had sex.
Meeting Jessica Jones
No Flirting Required
As Cage took the trash out one night, he came across Jessica Jones looking through the bar's window and invited her inside, claiming he would make it ladies night if she agreed. Jones came inside and drank until all the guests and Roy Healy had left; Cage and Jones both avoided questions about their personal lives, although Cage learned that Jones was a private investigator. They both flirted with each other and Jones worked out that the bar was special to Cage.
When Cage asked Jones what she wanted, it did not take long until they were both upstairs in his apartment having sex. Due to his great strength, Cage felt the need to apologize when he feared he had hurt Jones, but she pushed him to continue. Once they were finished, they both lay silently on the bed, looking up at the ceiling. Jones got up and went into Cage's bathroom for a while; when she returned, she hastily put on her clothes and left while Cage sat on the edge of the bed, only telling him that she was sorry without explaining why.
Two police officers came into Luke's to speak to Cage; they revealed photographs taken by Jessica Jones and asked him about her, as she was being investigated about a homicide case. Once they had gone, Jones arrived and tried to explain herself to the angered Cage, claiming she had been hired by the suspicious husband of Gina. Jones admitted that she should not have slept with him and Cage told her to leave.
Cage was later visited by Gina who tried to flirt and have sex with him once again, but Cage refused as he did not wish to get involved with liars. She argued that she had never had a chance to lie to him, but Cage explained he did not get involved with married women either. Gina claimed that her husband did not care and their marriage was basically over, but Cage informed her that her husband had hired Jones to investigate her affair. Although Gina claimed she did not believe him Cage told her to go home and ask her husband herself, which she did as she left Luke's in a hurry to return home.
Discovering Jessica Jones' Powers
Gina's husband Andre came into Luke's that night to confront Cage, bringing a group from his rugby teammates to attack him. While Cage fought them off, he was joined by Jessica Jones who had come to help. Cage witnessed Jones throw men twice her size across the bar with ease, while Cage soon knocked out all the men. When Andre tried to stab Cage in the neck, his unbreakable skin saved him and he ordered Andre to return home.
Knowing that Jones' strength was superhuman, Cage went to her apartment to confront her about seeing her throw men across his bar with one hand, although she tried to claim it was adrenaline. Cage, however, insisted she was enhanced and admitted that he knew she had seen he was too. To demonstrate his powers, Cage picked up a nearby buzz saw and pushed it against his stomach, causing sparks to fly off but not cutting his skin. As Jones touched his skin, Cage told her that she could not fix him as he was unbreakable.
Sexually excited by the idea of finding another enhanced person, Cage and Jones began taking off each others clothes while testing each other's strength, with Jones proving herself to match Cage. As the pair had sex against the wall, they would accidentally break various parts of the apartment due to their over-enthusiasm. Jones told Cage to put her down as she spotted her neighbor Ruben watching them from the hallway as his sister Robyn was complaining about the noise.
The couple went out into New York City to have some dinner together and discuss their gifts and how they had gotten their powers, with Jones asking how unbreakable he was, but Cage made it clear he was unsure about testing it. Jones revealed the extent of her strength and claimed she could not fly, but jump incredibly high. Cage asked how many more gifted people she believed there were apart from them and the Avengers, Jones revealed she knew of one man. They talked about becoming heroes and Jones revealed she had tried, Cage then teased her about costumes.
They decided to go back to Cage's apartment and have sex again, even going as far as to break his bed. It was agreed that Jones would stay with him that night and she went to brush her teeth and wash her face, however, Cage found Jones in his bathroom looking at a photograph of Reva Connors he kept. Believing that the photograph had upset and confused Jones, Cage revealed that Connors had died in a bus crash years earlier. Jones said she was sorry and decided to leave, claiming she had to work, leaving Cage alone.
While cleaning up Luke's, Cage was visited by Jessica Jones who apologized for leaving the night before, although Cage admitted he perhaps should not have mentioned his dead wife. Jones asked if Cage knew any drug dealers and he jokingly asked that as he owned a bar in Hell's Kitchen what did she think, Jones revealed that she needed a specific drug used to knock people out for surgery which she needed for questionable reasons, but Cage admitted that he could not help there.
Instead of talking, they decided to go upstairs and have sex. When they were finished and catching their breath, all Cage could think to say was Sweet Christmas. Cage pushed Jones to tell him what she was hiding from him, jokingly asking if it was a racial issue. Jones revealed that her mind was focused on a man with the power of mind control, Cage questioned if this had anything to do with the Hope Shlottman case he had been questioned about. Although Cage remained skeptical, Jones revealed that she believed Shlottman was telling the truth.
A few hours later, Jones knocked on Cage's apartment door with a look of sadness and cuts across her forehead but refused to reveal what she had done. Although Cage invited her inside, she refused, claiming that she could not come in ever again as she believed it was not right, although Cage argued that it felt alright to him. Jones told him that she had unfinished business and he had already suffered enough because of her. However, Cage became convinced she was leaving because of the drama surrounding his dead wife and told her to do what she needed to do.
Having heard that Serena Grier had information about Reva Connors' death, Cage agreed to help find her brother Antoine in exchange. Cage at first confronted the man to whom Antoine owed money, but after a brief fight learned that Grier had disappeared without paying. Cage traveled to the Alias Investigations Office to ask for Jessica Jones' help, offering to pay her; however, he was confronted by an agitated Malcolm Ducasse, who threatened him as he believed he had been Kilgraved.
Jones refused to help, offering him the name of another Private Investigator named Angela del Toro, but Cage insisted that he wanted her help and nobody else's, claiming that he needed the job handled fast. Once Jones agreed to help, Cage explained the situation. Although Jones tried to hand his money back to Cage, claiming she owed him a favor, Cage insisted that she take it as he was not asking for a favor and she told him to text him information so they could explore Grier's home for clues though the next day.
The next day, Cage went to Antoine Grier's Apartment and began exploring until Jones arrived a few hours late, which he confronted her about. He and Jones looked through Grier's possessions to try to find any clues about where he might have gone as Jones proved he had not been kidnapped due to his toothbrush also being gone. While going through his trash, Jones worked out that he liked to enter competitions and called his phone claiming he had won an Xbox, while Cage watched, amused by her techniques.
As they stepped outside while discussing Jones' techniques, Jones confronted two men she believed had been sent by Kilgrave; however, Cage recognized them as the men working for Len Sirkes whom he had beaten up the day before. They were then confronted by Sirkes himself who claimed not to have taken Grier, noting that he was also looking for him; Cage then proposed a deal where they work together to find him, despite Jones' protests. Once the deal was made, Cage gave Jones a lift home on his motorcycle, noting she had to wear a helmet as it was the law.
Understanding Jones' Past
Once they were outside Jessica Jones' Apartment Building, Cage asked what was next in finding Antoine Grier and Jones told him she would dig up information online and promised to call if she found anything. As Jones went inside, Cage was confronted once again by Malcolm Ducasse who wanted to know if his interests in Jones were his interests. Confused, Cage tried to leave, but was then asked about being approached by a British man, Cage simply told him not to get attached to Jones and was told she had been to hell and back.
Cage and Ducasse spoke in length about Kilgrave and Cage learned that Jones had spent months under his control being raped and mentally tortured. Mortified, Cage returned to the Alias Investigations Office and tried to apologize for not believing her when they had discussed Kilgrave's control over Hope Shlottman, promising to try and make it right. Opening the door, Jessica Jones told him he had not done anything wrong and she was a piece of shit; however, Cage told her that despite her flaws, she was not a piece of shit.
Locating Antoine Grier
Having spent the night together, Cage spent the morning watching Jessica Jones sleep, They discussed whether or not Jones would still be facing Kilgrave alone and she insisted she had to. They were interrupted when a man claiming to be Antoine Grier phoned to pick up his Xbox. Before they went to find him, Cage confessed to barely knowing Serena Grier and he was doing this as she had proof that Reva Connors' death was not an accident, telling Jones about what had happened after her death about the pain he had experienced.
Cage and Jones met up once again to look for the man claiming to be Grier, with Cage buying coffee first. They soon spotted Victor storming out and followed him as he got into a taxi. They tracked him down to an abandoned warehouse where Jones gained them entry by ripping off the lock on the door. Once inside they discovered a massive stockpile of marijuana. As they explored the warehouse they were confronted by Victor's dogs Myers and Krueger, Cage decided to calm down the dogs while Jones looked for Grier, noting that sharp teeth were his specialty; while Jones was gone Cage subdued the dogs without hurting them before looking for Grier.
Cage later found Jones with Grier, fighting Len Sirkes and his men. Cage joined the fight and easily knocked back Sirkes' men while informing Jones that he had not harmed Myers and Krueger. As Jones protected Grier, Cage fought Sirkes one on one before being put in a headlock and hit repeatedly in the chest by Sirkes' men, Cage then watched in disappointment as Jones escaped from the warehouse with Grier, leaving him to fight alone. However, it did not take long for Cage to overpower them all.
Having caught up with Jones at Serena Grier's Apartment where she was handing over Antoine, Cage confronted Jones about leaving him. Grier handed over a file with the information Cage wanted, but Jones tried to convince him that it may not be worth finding out as it would only hurt him and those around him. Cage ignored her pleas and opened the file, learning that the bus driver, Charles Wallace, was drunk when he caused the crash that killed his wife and was still working. Furious, Cage stormed out to hunt down Wallace.
Cage tracked down the bus Charles Wallace drove and boarded it, sitting at the back and riding all the way to the end of the line and waiting for everyone else to depart. Cage then asked Wallace if him before revealing that he was Reva Connors' husband, Wallace tried to express his grief and explained he had been sober since the accident. However, in a fit of rage, Cage threw him through the bus' windshield.
As Cage prepared to kill Wallace, Jessica Jones arrived and begged him not to; however, Cage proved unstoppable. Jones then revealed that Wallace did not kill Connors, but she did while under Kilgrave's control. Cage pinned Jones against the bus and told her to shut up, but she revealed she had hit her so hard her heart stopped. Furious and enraged, Cage hit the bus, denting it before questioning why she had slept with him and if she would have ever told him the truth. When Jones did not answer, Cage told her she was a piece of shit and walked away towards New York City to be away from her.
Controlled by Kilgrave
Failed Murder Attempt
Still furious about having been lied to, Cage followed Jessica Jones to a restaurant. However, to his shock, instead of seeing Jones leaving, he spotted Kilgrave running out with Albert Thompson. Enraged at seeing the man who had ordered his wife's murder, Cage charged at Kilgrave intending to beat him to death. Kilgrave, however, spotted him just in time to order him to stop before asking who he was; Cage revealed his name and that he had come to kill him, confusing Kilgrave.
Kilgrave ordered Cage into his car where he tried to convince Cage that he was not the one to blame for Connors' death, arguing that he could not allow her to go free after learning his origins and getting the video footage from her. When Kilgrave asked how Cage knew Jones, he admitted they had been lovers; Kilgrave rudely compared it to a pity shag, but Cage made it clear they had something special. Kilgrave demanded to know if Cage was responsible for ruining his chances of having a relationship with Jones, but Cage insisted that it was Kilgrave's fault alone that Jones now despised him.
In an attempt to horrify Jones, Kilgrave then ordered Cage to return to Luke's and blow it up as soon as Jones had arrived. Cage did as instructed; despite desiring to stop, he was unable to break free of Kilgrave's power. As soon as Jones came into view, Cage set all of the gasoline alight and his bar exploded. Due to Cage's unbreakable skin, he was able to walk out safely, despite much of his body being aflame. Jones ran to his aid and managed to put the flames out. When the police arrived, the pair hid and Jones asked exactly what Kilgrave had told him to do. Cage informed her what had happened and confirmed he had not been ordered to die for Kilgrave.
Tricking Jessica Jones
The couple went back to the Alias Investigations Office where Cage questioned why there were bullet holes and destroyed walls as if a fight had taken place. Cage admitted he had been a fool for trying to attack Kilgrave alone but Jones insisted he was not. Jones told Cage that when she had been forced to kill Reva Connors, it had broken his control over her. Cage told Jones he wanted to help kill him, but Jones insisted he wait at least twelve hours until Kilgrave's power wore off before they did anything further to find him.
The next morning Jones told Cage to stay at his apartment, but he insisted he was free of Kilgrave, despite knowing that Kilgrave was indeed still controlling him. Jones suggested that he leave now, open a new bar and forget about her; however, Cage told her that he wanted to see Kilgrave dead and vowed to stay by her side until it happened, believing him, Jones allowed him to come along. As they were leaving, they were discussing how Kilgrave would be using Albert Thompson to increase his power when they came across Malcolm Ducasse who was moving out to get away from Jones.
Cage and Jones traveled to the room she had first found Kilgrave's parents in the hopes to find a clue. They were confronted by Bunny Wiles who rudely told them they could not have Thompson's belongings as she had sold them when he failed to pay his rent. Wiles told them about some chemicals he had left, but when she tried to make Jones pay for them, Cage easily picked her up and moved her aside. They worked out that one of the chemicals came from a nearby ZALK lab and decided to investigate it.
While Jones investigated the lab, Cage stayed back in case Kilgrave was inside. Jones informed Cage that Kilgrave had been in there and had forced the staff to work nonstop, causing many to urinate themselves and faint. Cage told Jones about how he had felt moments before destroying Luke's for Kilgrave, telling her that he was wrong to blame her for Reva Connors' murder. Following the orders Kilgrave had left him, Cage told Jones that he forgave her and would tell her everyday for as long as she needed to hear it.
Eventually, a ZALK employee left with a bag of chemicals. Believing he would take them to Kilgrave, Cage and Jones followed him to Central Park. When they arrived, however, Jones told Cage not to follow in case he became controlled by Kilgrave. Cage soon learned that Kilgrave had taken the chemicals before Jones could catch him, forcing the man to commit suicide. Returning to the Alias Investigations Office, Cage comforted the disappointed Jones. They soon discovered Trish Walker outside her apartment, Cage left the two friends to talk, noting that his wife was a big fan of Walker's show.
Cage called Roy Healy and informed him of Luke's destruction until Jones returned. Jones went to her asked and pulled out a yellow USB stick which she told him belonged to his wife, explaining that there was footage of experiments on children, including Kilgrave. Once he had a shower, Cage told Jones about how he had tested his powers like Kilgrave might be, noting that Kilgrave would have played it off a magic act, this led them to discover a case of an entire room of parties being ordered to shut up by Kilgrave.
The pair traveled to the hall where Kilgrave had been to try to get some answers; once inside, they spoke to the Venue Manager where they claimed to be investigating underage drinking to get to the CCTV footage. The Manager reluctantly tried to look up the footage but found it had been erased. Looking at the screens, they discovered that Kilgrave had arrived and was calling Jessica Jones to the stage; Cage was ordered to leave with the Manager while Jones confronted him.
However, following the orders given to him by Kilgrave, Cage returned to the room once Jones had learned the truth and knocked her across the room with a single punch, while Kilgrave gloated about having increased his powers to last twenty four hours rather than the original twelve. Cage claimed that he could never forgive Jones for killing Reva Connors, but Jones insisted that it was not him talking, but Kilgrave. Kilgrave then claimed that Jones had failed his test and so he ordered Cage to kill her, which he attempted to obey without hesitation.
Cage and Jones engaged in a furious fight; while Jones tried to hold back and reason with Cage, Kilgrave's power over Cage proved too strong for him to be stopped. Equally matched in strength, Cage threw Jones across the room and protected Kilgrave from her while the fight went through the building's many corridors and rooms. When Jones resorted to hiding, Cage soon found her and ripped her through a wall; although Jones' words began to break Kilgrave's connection, it proved too strong to stop Cage.
As Jones ran outside to escape, Cage followed and confronted by a police officer; Cage threw the man outside, knocking him and his partner out. Jones attempted to defend herself with the police car's door, but Cage continued to hit it repeatedly before throwing it aside. Jones then tried to hide in the door, but Cage pulled her out. As Cage stood over her to deliver the finishing blow, Jones aimed a shotgun at his chin, begging him to stop. Cage told her to do what was needed and she reluctantly fired the gun, knocking Cage out.
Saved by Claire Temple
Cage was rushed to Metro-General Hospital, where he's diagnosed with brain trauma with a possible edema. The doctors and nurses, including Claire Temple tried to inject an IV into him, which failed due to his unbreakable skin, confirming he had super-powers. Knowing that Cage's life was in danger, Jessica Jones managed to convince Temple to help her take Cage back to Alias Investigations Office. As Temple took Cage out, Jones dealt with an attack from Kilgrave in the hospital.
Temple managed to get Cage back to Jessica Jones' Apartment Building without being seen and lay him on Jones' bed until Jones herself returned, having escaped the hospital. Although at first he appeared stable in his condition, without warning Cage began to have a seizure, but it was quickly established that an injection to stabilize him seemed to be impossible. As Jones walked in, Temple ordered her to use her strength to hold him still so she could drain the cerebral spinal fluid; with no other choice, Temple injected Cage through his eyeball, which successfully stabilized Cage.
Having been asleep for the last few hours recovering from the recent trauma, eventually, Cage awoke, sore and confused about his current situation. Temple told him that Jessica Jones had killed Kilgrave and Jones was now in the process of being arrested. Knowing that Jones should not go to prison for killing Kilgrave, Cage tried to get up so he could help her, but Temple told him otherwise as it would only result in his own arrest. Cage asked Temple for a glass of water to help him recover, but as soon as she left the room, Cage got out of bed and left the building before Temple realized he was gone.
Return to Harlem
Working for Pop
Getting away from Jessica Jones, Cage eventually found himself settled down in Harlem, where he found employment at Pop's Barber Shop, working for an old friend of Reva Connors, as well as taking another job as a dishwasher at the Harlem's Paradise. Five months later, Cage was working both jobs, keeping a low profile, trying to stay out of trouble, enjoying the company of those who came to get their hair cut.
Cage often found himself falling out of favor with one customer in particular, Shameek Smith, who viewed himself as a successful rapper in New York City and often mocked Cage for his job, which he viewed as a lesser career than his own, although Cage was still able to intimidate him. While working in the shop, Cage was flirted with by Patricia Wilson, whose son Lonnie Wilson often had his hair cut there, although Cage still rejected her many and persistent offers to go out and get coffee together, much to the constant amusement of Smith and the other customers of the Barber Shop.
Later, Cage was confronted by Pop who noted that Cage often had trouble stopping pacing as another man freed from prisoner. Pop continued to try and convince Cage that he should use his powers to help others, noting how Daredevil was doing the same down in Hell's Kitchen and how Connors had encouraged it. However, Cage made it very clear that he just wanted to be left alone and sweep hair at the barber shop. Despite all of Pop's arguments, however, Cage was unconvinced, noting how Seagate Prison and gaining his powers had now ruined his life due to the pressure they put upon him.
While taking out the trash in the back of Pop's Barber Shop, Cage bumped into one of the shop's hairdressers, Chico Diaz, which caused a gun to drop from his coat. Concerned for his safety, Cage asked Diaz what it was for, only for Diaz to ask if Cage's real name was Fredo Diaz, noting that Cage was not his father and that he had never needed one since his own had died. Cage then watched as Diaz left with Shameek Smith. Not wishing to get involved with criminal activities, Cage let them leave despite fearing for their safety due to their own young age.
Afterwards, Cage left Pop's for the night to work his second job at Harlem's Paradise, Cage walked down the streets of Harlem, being offered raw footage from Battle of New York from a young man called D.W. Griffith who promoted the footage of the Avengers despite Cage's lack of interest. When he approached a newsstand. Oliver gave Cage the usual paper, with Cage enjoying that a blind man could smell him coming due to the bleach that Pop made him use, and warned him that his landlady, Connie Lin, was on the hunt for Cage to get her rent for his apartment.
While walking close to Genghis Connie's and attempting to get home only being seen by Jin Lin and not Jin's more dangerous wife, he was suddenly approached by Connie who had been waiting for him, and who reminded him that his rent is ten days late. He paid her his total income, but Connie stated that it was not enough. Cage, however, promised to gather the rest as soon as he was able to get to work at Harlem's Paradise, but Connie warned him to get it tonight or be at risk of being thrown out of his apartment which Cage knew she meant as Connie clearly took no prisoners with her apartments.
Meeting Misty Knight
As Cage started cleaning dishes at Harlem's Paradise, he was approached by Nate who asked Cage if he could fill in for bartender. Cage asked he had any payment, but Nate said it wasn't in, yet. Nate gave Cage a bartending suit that was smaller than him. Cage signed and agreed to take the job, stating that bartending clearly makes more money.
As he continued to fill in as bartender, he approached Misty Knight, asking her about her empty glass, stating it was a cosmos. As Cage began to make Misty another glass, she noted that his suit was way too small for him. He retorted by stating her dress was, as well. Once Cage had refilled her glass, she started glancing at the balcony that contained Cornell Stokes and Mariah Dillard. Cage took note and asked her if she was looking for something. She denied it and claimed that she was just listening to Raphael Saadiq, reminiscing about his old album. Cage called her old fashioned, which Knight retorted back to him much to both of their shared amusement.
She continued to look up at the balcony and Cage asked if she was one of Cottonmouth's models, to which she denied. Cage stated that she is beautiful, but a tad older than what Cottonmouth is used to. Before Knight denied the tip, Cage finished by stating that idiots like little girls and he only liked real women. Flattered, Knight asked for another cosmo, but before he could make it, he was approached by Candace Miller, who stated that Cottonmouth wanted more drinks, noting she did not like to go up alone, to which he obliged. He finished making Knight's Cosmo and told her to wait for him.
Cage and Miller entered the balcony which sat Cornell Stokes, Mariah Dillard, Domingo Colon and Tone, and gave them bottles of Ace of Spades. Before Cage could leave, Cottonmouth stopped him and asked why he looked strange, Dillard answered because his suit is too small. He asked Cage what happened to Dante Chapman, the usual bartender, Cage replied that he must have called in sick. Cottonmouth, then, offered him a job that would give him better pay, asking if he had ever held a gun. Cage denied the offer as he did not want to get involved and left the balcony with Miller.
Grabbing a Coffee
When Cage's shift at Harlem's Paradise was over, he managed to catch up with Misty Knight by the street. He told her where the bus station is, noting that she was about to call an Uber. He asked if she was waiting for Cottonmouth, because he already left in his car. She asked him if he had anywhere else to go, he replied home with reluctance. Before he could leave, she asked if he wanted to get some coffee. Cage replied that he doesn't like coffee, to which Knight stated that she did not, either, so they both ended up at Cage's apartment where they then had sex.
Later that night, after making love, Cage woke up from a nightmare featuring his past at Seagate Prison. He saw that Knight was taking a call; after she was done and started to put her clothes on, she stated that Cage talks in his sleep, stating that he uttered Shades and Comanche. She stated that the phone call was her job, when asked what her job was, she stated that she was an auditor. He asked if he could call her, but she states that he would need her number for that and that she would find him at Harlem's Paradise. As she left, Cage looked out his window, to take another look at Knight.
A Sad Discovery
The next day, Cage was sweeping the front entrance of Pop's Barber Shop, where he stumbled across a newspaper on the streets, with the story of Dante Chapman's death. In the barber shop, Pop and Cage sat down and started reminiscing about Chapman, Shameek Smith and Chico Diaz. He talked about how he tried to keep them away from the gangs. Still in disbelief that Smith and Diaz would kill Chapman, Pop asked Cage if he saw anything. Cage denied what he saw, refusing to tell Pop about Diaz and the gun he had seen.
While walking down just past Genghis Connie's while then heading towards his second job in the night at Harlem's Paradise, Cage still managed to catch eyes with Connie Lin who continued to ask him for his rent money before he was approached by Zip and his crew who worked for Cottonmouth. Zip gave Cage one of Mariah Dillard's pamphlets, urging to keep Harlem black which seemed to be the message of Dillard's political campaign. As they left, Cage looked on in suspicion before still heading quietly to his work and continuing to try and stay out of trouble however he possibly could.
As he was cleaning dishes, Cage stopped Nate and asked where his money was at, to which he responded that he will pay him whenever he feels like it. Then, he noticed Shameek Smith entering the kitchen, being personally escorted by Tone. He overheard the conversation that Cottonmouth now wanted to meet with Smith, personally. Before leaving the kitchen, Smith gave one glance at Cage and left. Before Cage started to do something about it, Shades then walked into the kitchen, whom Cage immediately recognized from Seagate Penitentiary, stopping him in his tracks and making him leave.
Becoming a Defender
Saving Genghis Connie's
Cage began pacing in his apartment, considering whether or not to leave Harlem and get away from Shades from could expose his past life as Carl Lucas and have him sent back to jail. However, Cage looks at Reva Connors's book, Invisible Man, and reminisced meeting her at Seagate Penitentiary and teaching her the importance of not living a lonely life. He went into his bathroom and pulled out a picture of Connors, finally making a decision, quietly stating to himself that he was ready.
Later that night, Cage was walking past Genghis Connie's, where he noticed that Zip and his crew of thugs were taunting and threatening both Connie Lin and her husband, Jin, for more donation money in order to support the political career of Mariah Dillard, smashing the Lin's property when they refused. Cage went up to the entire crew, stating that they were being disrespectful. Sugar, one of Zip's crew members, assumed Cage wanted to fight, but Cage stated that he could not because most of them would die if he hit them.
Zip showed no sign of intimidation, asking Amos to take care of Cage, assuming that Amos would be more than strong enough due to his reputation of having a powerful punch. Amos punched Cage in the face, but his unbreakable skin causes him to break his hand. Amos recoils in pain, to which Cage threw him out of a window. Zip tried to use a baseball bat on him, but that didn't affect Cage, either, as he threw him against the wall. Koko tried shooting Cage, but he grabbed the gun while the gun shot in the palm of his hand. He, then, slammed him down on the ground. Cage showed Sugar the bullet, asking him if he would like to fight, causing him to flee in fear.
After the brawl, Cage went up to Jin and Connie, apologizing for the broken window and various other bits of damage he had inadvertently caused. To his surprise, however, Connie was not angry and instead gave Cage some money, which he denied, stating that he owed her money for rent. Jin stated that he made things worse and that Zip and his crew would be back for more money soon enough under the orders of Dillard and Cottonmouth who would not allow such a defeat to go unnoticed. As Cage left, Connie stated that she wants to hire him. Cage states that he is not for hire, but he would defend her regardless. Cage then stepped out into New York City, putting his hood over his head and considering his next move.
The next day, at Pop's Barber Shop, Cage and Pop had a discussion on Donald Goines. The conversation lead to Pop discussing how Zip and his men were attacked at Genghis Connie's, with Cage subtly confirmed it was him. Cage showed Pop the pamphlet for Mariah Dillard's campaign and asked if Zip worked for Cottonmouth or her. Pop confirmed that it was both and told him that Dillard and Cottonmouth were cousins. He told Cage about their upbringing with Mama Mabel. Pop then told Cage that Cottonmouth is on the hunt for Chico Diaz.
As they were speaking, they are interrupted by the sudden arrival of Cottonmouth, along with Shades and Tone, who enters to get shave with a straight edge razor. Cage continued to do his job and swept the floor, as he overheard the conversation between Pop and Stokes while he got a shave from Pop, taking note of Stokes scarred hands, clearly from confronting Shameek Smith. Cage analyzed the room and the thugs, estimating the time it would take to take them all out. He glanced over at Shades, remembering his own past with him at Seagate Prison, driving him to break his broom.
This caught the attention of Shades, which caused Cage to claim that it was old. Shades said he is back home for nearly three years; Cage asked if it was college, but Shades replied Seagate Prison. He then asked Cage if he has ever seen Chico Diaz, remembering that he used to hang out at the Barber Shop; Cage denied that he saw him, then subtly asked Pop if he would like to fight Cottonmouth, which Pop denied. Recognizing Cage, Cottonmouth mocked at him having two jobs and asked for his name yet again, and when Cage replied, Cottonmouth admired it, referring the old biblical text.
Once the shave had now been completed, Cottonmouth said that his favorite verse from the Bible was "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." When Pop asked about turning the other cheek, Cottonmouth simply replied that it was Jesus' job. Then, Tone asked the two of them to call Cottonmouth or his crew if they have found Diaz and before they could leave, Cage pointed out that Cottonmouth forgot to pay, which was one of the key rules of the Barber Shop. Pop denied the offer, but Cottonmouth gave Tone the order to pay the full amount as had been requested, then they left after doing so.
Pop claimed that Cottonmouth had got Shameek Smith, having seen his knuckles. Cage said it was not true, then Pop told Cage that Diaz does not have to share Smith's fate. Cage declined the job, but Pop referred to his past finding people, claiming if he could get Diaz in the shop before the crew finds him, he can set up a parle. When Cage declined the offer, Pop told Cage that he owed him one after keeping both secrets when Reva Connors brought Cage home, knowing he was an ex-convict, and the other time he found out he had powers, stating that time is due and he is collecting.
Finding Chico Diaz
- "Pop thinks he has a way to clear this mess up, I know you didn't kill Dante, or Shameek, all you guys wanted was the cash, it was an inside job, Dante's safe idea. I found you in four hours, for free, imagine how fast someone Cottonmouth pays will find you. The only chance you have of survival is if you come with me."
- ―Luke Cage to Chico Diaz[src]
Cage walked all around Harlem, in the hope of finding Chico Diaz's whereabouts. He asked everyone he could find on the streets, but with no such luck. As he continued his search, he noticed that Cottonmouth, Shades and his crew entering the Crispus Attucks Complex. Although he found it suspicious, he decided to ignore what was going on.
Cage found Diaz locked up in a hotel, as he kicked down the door. Surprised, Chico pointed a gun at him, but Cage claimed that he could not shoot him. Cage explained that Shameek Smith was dead and Cottonmouth and his crew are looking for him and the other half of the money. Cage claimed that he could care less about him, but he was sent by Pop. Despite Diaz's objections, Cage said he knew that he didn't kill Dante nor Shameek, but that it was all an inside job for the cash and that Pop claimed that he can create a negotiation between him and Cottonmouth, if he stays at his barber shop.
To further convince him, he asked him to imagine how fast it would take for Cottonmouth to hire someone to find him, offering him to come with him back to Pop, one last time. Diaz, however, became insulted when Cage noted that Pop was doing this out of respect for his late father Wilfredo "Fredo" Diaz Sr., who Diaz felt had never been there for him so once again, Diaz declined the offer and asked Cage to tell Pop that he is sorry and that he was always good to him; Cage responded that Pop deserves better and then left him alone with the money to consider what was said and make his mind up.
Learning Pop's Past
Later, Cage caught up with Pop, who was sitting down and eating catfish outside his barber shop. He joined him and confirmed that he found Chico Diaz, but would not be coming. Cage apologized, saying that he cannot save everyone, but Pop disagreed as he told Cage of his past life in a gang with Cottonmouth and Wilfredo Diaz, Chico's Father. He told Cage how he got the name Pop, because of the sound his fist made when he hit someone in the face, and how he reformed, due to being caught with a gun and not seeing his wife or son for years.
Pop told Cage that he never turned back to a life of crime when he returned to Harlem, because he was not that guy, anymore. Cage said he wasn't, either, but Pop pointed out that he was innocent from the start. Pop stated that the reason he made his barber shop was so that people like Cage and Diaz could have a place to get away from crime. Cage, then, admitted that when he stopped Zip and his crew from terrorizing at Genghis Connie's, he felt at peace with himself and that he decided that he was done running. Cage, then, hoped that this would be the perfect opportunity to find out who he is.
Once they finished their conversation, the pair went back inside the barber shop, where Bobby Fish and Turk Barrett were playing a game of chess. As Pop began to leave for the back room, Diaz entered, causing Pop to scold at him and embraced. The noise caught Cage's attention asking what it was, Pop said that it was Cage saving the day. However, despite the happy occasion, Barrett looked at Diaz with interest, claiming he was looking for the bathroom. Cage demanded that Barrett leave the shop, which he obliged, and then asked Pop to hide Diaz, knowing Barrett was not to be trusted.
Another Meeting with Misty
As Pop continued to scold Chico Diaz, he and Cage both heard the door open. When Cage looked towards the main, he saw Detective Rafael Scarfe and took note that he was a cop, urging Pop to hide Diaz. After hiding him in the bathroom, Pop came out and greeted both cops, with Cage still hiding in the back room. However, when Pop was greeted by Misty Knight, Cage immediately recognized her voice as he eavesdropped on their conversation.
As the conversation continued between Pop and Scarfe concerning Diaz, Cage decided to come out while Pop tried to explain about the last time he saw him. He protested against the claim that Diaz would kill his friends, Dante Chapman and Shameek Smith. Knight saw and noticed Cage, pretending to meet him for the first time, to which Cage played along. Pop noticed the awkward tension between the two and told them that Diaz missed work for two days and that he has no control over him outside the shop. Knight and Scarfe urged them to give them a call if they saw Diaz and they began to leave.
Once the Detectives had left, Pop asked Cage about Knight, which he knowingly claimed they had just had coffee. Cage asked Pop if he was going to confront Cottonmouth, but Pop urged Cage to do it instead, as the police have an interest in the shop and he needed to guard them from Diaz. Pop also stated that these negotiations don't happen on the phone. Cage became hesitant, but Pop told him that Diaz's father, Wilfredo Diaz, died on the streets and did not want his son to end up the same way. After asking again, Cage agreed to help out in whatever possible way he could.
Setting Up a Parley
As Cage returned to Harlem's Paradise, he was approached by Nate who called on his late arrival and said he has the money. However, Cage ignored him as he continued towards Cottonmouth. Cage approached Cottonmouth and Mariah Dillard, but not before being approached by Tone and patted down to check for concealed weapons. He told Cottonmouth that he is speaking to him on Pop's behalf. When asked why he couldn't come himself, Cage said that he wants to set up a parley between him and Chico Diaz, not wanting him to end up like Shameek Smith.
Cottonmouth denied what he was talking about, but Cage retorted that he does referring to his bruised knuckles. Cage said a talk can be arranged at Pop's Barber Shop, his money returned to him and Chico leaving New York, never to return. Cottonmouth mocked him, claiming that he could talk to Pop when he wanted. Cage gave Cottonmouth the picture of him, Pop and Fredo Diaz when they were young, asking him to remember his history. Cottonmouth agreed to get a haircut at the shop around the same time and fired Cage, but Cage claimed he quit before he could even fire him, as he left.
Farewell to Pop
Cage returned to Pop's Barber Shop and told Pop that Cottonmouth would only speak to him within the shop. Suddenly, Chico Diaz came downstairs with the money, wanting to buy a TV for the back room. Suddenly, the shop got attacked by Tone, as Cage rushed towards Lonnie Wilson to deflect the bullets from him. Diaz got injured in the arm, while Pop got shot in the neck and started to bleed violently. As the bullets continued, Cage told Wilson to play dead.
Once the bullets stopped, Tone and Shades entered the remains of the shop, checking to see if anyone survived and took the bag of money. As they left, Cage asked if Lonnie was alright and noticed Pop on the ground, as he bled hard. He rushed to his side, as he lay dying and screamed for an ambulance. With Pop reaching his final few moments, he asked Cage to swear to "move forward, always." Cage agreed and Pop died in his arms. As Cage mourned the loss of his friend, his anger for Cottonmouth and Mariah Dillard grew as he blamed them both for Pop's tragic and untimely death.
As the police began investigating, Diaz was taken to an ambulance and Pop put in a body bag, he was approached by Misty Knight, who asked if he was alright. She began to question how he survived the bullets, to which he quickly refused to answer. He just told her that he quickly shielded Wilson and that's all that happened. Knight asked him how long he worked at Pop's, to which he answered five months. She then asked if Diaz was hiding at the shop the whole time, but Cage did not answer. As Knight left him, Cage continued to blankly stare out, reeling from the events that happened.
Back at his apartment above Genghis Connie's, Cage sat in silence on his own and continued to mourn the loss of his dear friend Pop and the destruction of the barber shop. He sat down on his chair, looking at his swear jar, which had also been hit by one of Tone's bullets. Seeing what he considered to be the symbol of Pop's vision for his barber shop, a peaceful place where there was no crime or even swearing, Cage decided it was time to take action. Then, he looked up at Dillard's New Harlem Renaissance pamphlet which had been given to him by Zip the night before.
Lecture About Crispus Attucks
- "Do you even know who Crispus Attucks was? A free black man, the first man to die for what became America, he could have acted scared when those Brits raised their guns, blended in in the crowd, but he stepped up, he paid with his life, but he started something. That's what Pop did, not me, I laid in the cut until he stepped up and it cost him his life too. I ain't laying back!"
- ―Luke Cage to Mamba[src]
Cage looked towards the Crispus Attucks Complex, waiting, when he was approached by a gunman. He told the kid that he was unable to believe that he would dare point a gun at him in front of a building named after one of their own greatest heroes. When the gunman ignored what Cage said, he lectured him about Crispus Attucks and what he had stood for during the American Revolution, comparing him to Pop and what he stood for, stating he will never run.
He, then, demanded the gunman to shoot him, furiously insulting the boy's fear and calling him a "n***a" as he demanded that he pull the trigger, but the gunman didn't. An impatient Cage then took his gun, stating that he will do it for him, and shot himself in the stomach, with the bullet bouncing off his own unbreakable skin, causing the gunman to flee in terror. As Cage looked on at the building, he noticed a black car drive towards the building. There, he saw Mariah Dillard exit the car with the bag of money that Shades stole. There, he quoted Pop's own philosophy to "move forward, always."
Cage woke up to the sight of Pop's swear jar, reminding him of the tragedy that befell his friend. He walked next to Genghis Connie's, as he noticed that Connie Lin was less hostile about the rent. Finally, he stopped by Pop's Barber Shop, which had now been turned into a memorial for Pop where the residents of Harlem had been laying flowers and showing their respect to the man. Cage at the memorial and admired a picture of his late friend, repeating Pop's words: move forward, always.
At the funeral home, Cage began browsing through coffins with the assistance of Joel Spurlock, bewildered that Spurlock suggested the most expensive one which was vastly out of his price range and seemed too much for the funeral. As it soon became clear that Cage did not have much money to afford a top range coffin, Spurlock gave Cage a much more affordable option. Cage asked if he could see the body, but he said it just came back from the morgue and needs to be prepped for viewing. Cage talked about how Pop was like a father to him and Reva Connors, who has also passed, and would like to wait until he can afford the funeral and pay for the coffin.
However, they were both interrupted by Cottonmouth, who said he had taken care of all the expenses and mocked Cage for the lack of money to afford a proper funeral. Cage merely responded that the funeral should match the man's own integrity. Cottonmouth, at this remark, asked the manager to leave. As he did so, Cottonmouth told Cage about his and Pop's differences, but always cared for him, but Cage still blamed Cottonmouth for Pop's death, even though he put the blame on Tone who he recently killed. After that, Cottonmouth threatened Cage and mocked him for losing both jobs.
War on Cottonmouth
Planning a Robbery
Later, Cage entered Pop's Barber Shop, overwhelmed at the amount of damage taken. As he was examining Pop's hat, he was greeted by Bobby Fish, who was surprised that Cage finally made it after all that waiting, stating that it was hard for him to enter, himself. Cage asked Fish how he knew Pop, he told them he used to play chess with him in Central Park, but when he got too busy, he started visiting the barber shop. Cage asked what will happen to the shop, to which he responded that a bank would take the place, eventually revealing that he also used to do Pop's taxes for many years.
Cage vowed he would not let anyone take the shop for themselves. However, Fish claims it to be impossible unless he pays the bank on time, although technically not too late despite the fact they would need to somehow raise eighty thousand dollars. Cage revealed his plan to take the money from Cottonmouth, due to the fact that Shameek Smith stealing all the money was the reason Pop died in the first place. He plotted out what he was going to do, all the while not laying a finger on Cottonmouth. Afterwards, Cage left to check up on Chico Diaz while he recovered in the hospital.
As Cage entered the hospital that Diaz was staying at, he bumped into Misty Knight, again. She stopped him, telling Cage that he could go no further, due to the fact that he was the only suspect to be seen both at Pop's Barber Shop and at Harlem's Paradise, all the while connecting them to the killings of Dante Chapman, Shameek Smith and Pop. Cage asked to find the real killer instead of bothering him, Knight replied that their business is one in the same. Cage then stated that she still knew where he lived and they can conduct their business there, then he left to speak with Diaz in private.
Cage visited Diaz, reassuring him that Cottonmouth is no longer trying to kill him, as he executed Tone for his rash shootout and taken the money. Diaz assures Cage that he was no longer getting into trouble, but Cage told him that Pop died the minute he decided to help him. Diaz, then, replied that it may be on Cage, because one of those bullets bounced off of his skin, calling Cage one of them, but Cage quietly denied this. Diaz stated that regardless, the death is on Cottonmouth, to which Cage asked to find a way to hurt him what Diaz knew about all of Cottonmouth's operations.
Diaz explained Cottonmouth's operation and that the money goes into storehouses, with the main being Crispus Attucks Complex, where the money was hidden. Diaz warned about the complex being heavily guarded so Cage asked about the other stash houses and the shootout that had happened, Diaz replied that Dante Chapman and he took note of a few and the shootout was Domingo Colon. Cage, then, planned to cause tension between Cottonmouth and Colon by robbing those stash houses and have the money moved to Crispus Attucks, stating that he will do it all by himself.
Cage began hitting a few of Cottonmouth's stash houses, smashing through the doors before beating up anyone who would stand in his way, easily subduing them due to his incredible strength. Before he left, he would take the guns and twist them so they would not be used again. He would also leave the cash wide open, which baffled the police. Only one person witnessed Cage, a young woman who was high on drugs at the time, when Detectives Misty Knight and Rafael Scarfe questioned her about the "mysterious hooded man," all that she could say was that he was fine looking.
Later, Cage spied on the Crispus Attucks Complex, planning out how to infiltrate strategically. He looked over and saw Mariah Dillard enter, taking note how heavily fortified it was, now that he made with all his break-ins at Cottonmouth's stash houses. He simply looked away and plotted the next move, ensuring that he was not seen by Zip or anybody else who might recognize his face and warn Cottonmouth early.
Later that night, Cage watched the complex, as Dillard left with a few of the soldiers. Seizing the opportunity, he put on his headphones, played music by the Wu-Tang Clan and headed out. Seeking a weapon to increase his strength, Cage ripped off a car door and busted through the fortified door of the complex. The noise stirred up a bunch of soldiers to attack. Regardless, Cage was able to get past through all of them with little effort, even binding a soldier to the car door before throwing him and the door down the stairs where he crashed into the other soldiers heading upstairs.
Cage went to the next few floors, still breezing through the soldiers, while looking for the vault. He encountered the last guard, as he threw a couch at him. The man dodged the couch, causing it to be launched out of the window and smash hard against the ground while the man locked himself in front of a bar door, spraying a barrage of bullets. However, the bullets bounced off of Cage and he just walked closer towards him while his hoodie was torn apart by the bullets, grabbing him by the neck and knocking him out against the door. With that done, Cage kicked the door down and continued.
With all the guards either subdued or having run in terror of the bulletproof man, Cage walked inside Mariah Dillard's office, looking around for another entrance. He saw another door on the opposite side and entered, despite there being a second steel door, which he pulled off its hinges with almost no effort required. He came across the locker room and looked into one of the ziplock bags; he smiled when he found the money and walked out with it, stepping into New York City's streets and disappearing into the night before he could be caught by the police or any more of Cottonmouth's thugs.
Cage returned to Pop's Barber Shop, still covered with bullet holes, startling Bobby Fish, who swore a storm. Cage joked that he must pay the swear jar, but Fish said he had nothing on him. Cage dropped the bag of money on his lap and told him that he did. Fish asked how he got this, Cage responded that it did not matter and the money should be used on the barber shop, which Fish happily obliged, not being able to leave with the state that the shop was in. Cage noted that the facility should still be open, despite the fact that he nor Fish were barbers; after that, he left for Genghis Connie's.
Trapped in Genghis Connie's
Cage had dinner at Genghis Connie's, where he was greeted by Connie Lin, who was amazed at his appetite. Cage gave Lin some of the money taken from Cottonmouth's storehouse. She refused, but Cage stated that he wanted to make things right. This touched Lin and she hugged Cage. However, Cottonmouth had discovered Cage's involvement and his location and used a rocket launcher to get rid of him. Cage saw the coming missile and shielded Lin from the explosion. The blast caused the building to collapse on them both and knocked them out, much to Cottonmouth's pleasure.
Later, Cage finally woke up in the ruins, after having a dream of life in Seagate Prison. He looked around and finally found Connie Lin, who's leg was under a huge pile of rubble. He told Lin that they have to be extremely careful, due to a gas leakage that could mean if that made a spark they could cause another explosion which could kill her. Lin became skeptical about getting out, but Cage assured her that if the rescue services could not get to them in time, he would free them, himself; he, then, began to pick up piles of rubble and showed off his superhuman strength to the amazed Lin.
Cage, finally, got the rubble off of Lin's leg, stating that it was broken. She then asked how Cage was doing this and Cage hesitated about telling her his secrets, continuing to dig them out. Then, Cage saw a hole that was a little further down and informed Lin that she needs to crawl underneath; she began to, although she struggled, due to her leg causing her incredible pain. Cage, remembering how he escaped Seagate Prison, began to punch the top of the rubble, until he, finally, created a way out by punching straight through the concrete and reaching the outside where the police were waiting.
Cage was greeted by firefighters who asked if he could move, he answered that he was fine, but Lin needed help because of her broken leg. As Cage was carrying her, Lin still could not believe what Cage did, which Cage answered is why what happened should be kept a secret. While being examined by medical, he was approached by Misty Knight, who wanted answers about what happened in the rubble, but Cage stated that it was for another time. As he left, he was approached by the press who wanted to know the mysterious hero; he turned around and said: my name is Luke Cage.
Framed by Cottonmouth
The next morning, Cage dug through all of the rubble of Genghis Connie's and his apartment. Many spectators came to watch, one of them being Misty Knight, who was still surprised at Cage's strength. Cage kept digging until he finally found what he was looking for, Pop's "Swear Jar." He left the rubble, unaware that Knight went to the rubble and found the picture of Reva Connors that Cage had not yet found.
Cage then returned to Pop's Barber Shop, where he was greeted by Bobby Fish, who hired Dapper Dan to tailor a suit for Cage. As Cage tried on his suit, Dan stated that he saw him on television and was impressed that he survived the wreckage. Cage stated that he was just lucky, but Fish called it a blessing. Cage tried to change the subject by asking Dan about Mike Tyson, but Fish turned that subject around by stating that when the world knows who he is, just be the good person that he can be. With that, Cage thanked Dan for his new suit as he left and began to walk and talk privately Fish.
As they walked into the next room, They started to become prepared for Pop's funeral. Fish pointed out that Cage's popularity had now increased, noting the amounts of letters stacked on the front door. Fish noted that going to the funeral may be the hardest thing. After Cage and Fish admired Pop's past life, Fish gave Cage the key to Pop's apartment upstairs, noting he would have wanted him to have it, since Genghis Connie's blew up. Cage reluctantly took the key, stating that he will find a way to earn his keep, with Fish agreeing, stating that they need to keep the shop up and running.
Suddenly, they were visited by Aisha Axton, who demanded to see Cage. She asked him about Zip and his thieving, curious, Cage asked what she meant, she answered that Zip and his crew had been going around Harlem and had stolen her father's ring and hit a few other people, putting the blame on him, claiming it was the Luke Cage Stupidity tax being put upon them. Axton begged to get the ring back, noting that it was the only thing to remember her father's good days by. Cage was hesitant, but Axton furiously told him to stand up, noting what happened at Genghis Connie's.
As she left, Fish took note that it was probably Cottonmouth trying to get Cage driven out by all of Harlem and turn the people of the city against him so Cottonmouth could continue with all of his criminal activities. As Cage began to leave, Fish asked what he was doing, Cage answered that he would clear his name. As Cage left Pop's Barber Shop, he was approached by more of the victims of Zip and his crew, demanding that Cage get back the items that they stole. Cage stated that he was on it and left, beginning his search for Zip and the other criminals to stop their activities now.
Cage started fighting Zip's crew, reclaiming all the stolen objects back to their original owners. As soon as he stopped some more thugs, he showed his strength before he threatened to come after them if the so much as say his name ever again and then demanded that they tell everyone that they should no longer fear Cottonmouth. He then knocked out the thugs with a simple smack around the head. When one of the women he was helping questioned if Cage would need a gun or not, Cage confidently responded that he was the gun before walking straight up to two thugs, knocking one out with slap before threatening and knocking out the second.
As he walked down the streets of Harlem, he heard a scream. He walked towards the source, seeing Sugar on a stretcher, complaining about someone, who he called a "bitch," shooting him in the leg as he was prepared to go to Metro-General Hospital for treatment. Cage asked if he knew who he was and Sugar recoiled, remembering their earlier encounter where Cage had showed his power to him. When Cage asked who shot him, Sugar just groaned and stated that he was "moving back to Raleigh" and "had enough of this shit" but still refused to answer any of Cage's questions to him.
As Cage kept walking, he was approached by another girl who stated he wasn't working fast enough, pleading that he get the ring back for Aisha, who had shot Sugar. She told him the tragic story about her and her father, who got ill and left her alone on the streets. When she stated how tough Aisha was, Cage asked if it was Aisha who shot Sugar, she stated that Sugar mocked her and her father's ring. When he asked where she got the gun and where Aisha was, she stated that she got the gun from her and that she doesn't know her whereabouts. With that, she left Cage alone again.
Suddenly, Cage encountered Misty Knight and Rafael Scarfe, much to his annoyance. Knight found it odd that Cage kept showing up at crime scenes and showed him the picture of Reva Connors, refusing to give it to him, as it was evidence. Scarfe then showed Cage the cuffs and tiara from Noah Burstein's lab, asking what his connection with Cottonmouth was. Cage answered that he had gotten angry when Cottonmouth fired him, then Knight told him to back down and let them do their job. Cage told her he would deal with Cottonmouth and then go. Knight told him not to attend Pop's funeral.
Cage entered Harlem's Paradise to talk to Cottonmouth, but as soon as he got inside, he was greeted by his henchmen who surrounded him. As they inched closer to him, Cottonmouth loomed over him and mocked him for being Harlem's savior. Cage stated that he was ending Cottonmouth's reign, then Cottonmouth told him that he can't have Harlem, to which Cage replied that he didn't want Harlem, but he wanted to protect it from him. Cottonmouth, then, stated that it was his home.
The henchmen, including a nervous Amos, then began to fight Cage. However, Cage easily gained the upper hand, knocking out all three of the henchmen. One of them even tried to shoot him, but all the bullets just bounced off of him. Shades recognized his fighting style and, unbeknownst to Cage, figured out that he was really Carl Lucas, recalling their time together at Seagate Prison where he had watched him fight for Albert Rackham, despite having assumed Lucas had been killed years earlier. Cage continued fighting and subdued all of Cottonmouth's men, leaving them rolling around in pain.
Enraged, Cottonmouth came down to Cage, but Cage mocked him for using a gun after surviving his rocket launcher attack when he had destroyed Genghis Connie's with him still inside. Cottonmouth threatened war, but Cage stated that all of his men are down and that his mob simply no longer had the strength needed to bring him down, which angered Cottonmouth even further. He mocked Shades, revealing that he actually knew who he was. He, then, threatened Cottonmouth to no longer say his name; Cottonmouth asked why and Cage said nothing and walked out of the club.
Retrieving the Ring
Cage, finally, came across Zip, who was playing craps on the streets with his criminal friends while tacking his break from tormenting the people of Harlem. He mocked them for taking their lunch breaks like normal employees and asked if any of them were at the raid of Crispus Attucks Complex. With that being said, everyone left in fear except Zip, knowing how dangerous Cage could be. As Cage approached Zip who refused to walk away, he began firing his gun at Cage, but the bullets bounced off of him, much to Zip's horror.
Zip froze and shook with fear, then Cage took his gun and twisted it in a knot while Zip could only look on with amazement. Cage then, grabbed Zip by the scruff of his neck and lifted him into the air while he demanded Aisha Axton's ring back, but Zip shook his head no and denied all knowledge. Cage told him to think again, noting that the place was named after Jackie Robinson, and reminded him of Robinson's history as he began to choke Zip more, hoping to scare him into stopping his crimes for Cottonmouth. Cage then proceeded to look in Zip's coat pocket where he found Aisha's ring, let Zip go and walked away without another word to the horrified Zip.
Cage entered the baseball shop, but she wasn't there, finding the place a complete mess. Then, he came across Eddie Axton, Aisha's father, who asked if he was one of the thrives, stating that he has nothing left. Cage told him that he needed to find Aisha to return the ring, but Eddie claimed it wasn't worth anything, But Cage noted that it might have reminded her of better times. Axton talked about his failed Baseball career and how Aisha came up with the shop to set a positive example for himself. Disgusted, Cage told Axton to shape up and to let Aisha know that he had just stopped by.
- "He listened to their problems. And he made them feel better about the world and themselves. We have to strive on a daily basis to do the same for each other. And sometimes, that's gonna mean standing up to a bully. Especially if he calls himself a friend. I don't believe in Harlem. I believe in the people who make Harlem what it is."
- ―Luke Cage[src]
Cage went back to Pop's Barber Shop and took off his coat. He took a look in the broken mirror and saw all of the bullet holes in his shirt that Dapper Dan had given him, which had been caused by Zip's gun. He cursed under his breath and, knowing where he was, put a dollar in the swear jar in tribute to his lost friend's rules about saying swear words.
Cage entered Pop's funeral, listening to Bert Hunter's speech, Pop's long estranged son who talked about his deceased father and his regrets for how their relationship had turned out. As Cage continued to walk through the church, people began to take notice and started to stare at him. Cage took note of Misty Knight and Cottonmouth who were attending along with Shades, and sat down next to Aisha Axton. He told her that the job was taken care of and to take her hand away from her concealed gun that she was considering using against Cottonmouth. She did as Cage crushed her gun.
Once Hunter had finished his speech, Bobby Fish asked if anyone would like to say a few words, as Cage started to get up, he was interrupted by Cottonmouth who went up and began his tribute. He listened to Cottonmouth's own story about how he grew up with Pop while living with Mama Mabel and how Pop got his name from hitting people. Cottonmouth went on to claim that he would protect Harlem from criminals, mentioning that Tone had gone missing ever since shooting up the Barber Shop and killing Pop. The crowd cheered him on, as he finished his tribute and returned to his seat.
Cage, then, came up after Cottonmouth, looking at the picture and remembering how Pop died, then began his tribute. He told the people his memories of Pop and the reason why he had a swear jar in his barber shop in the first place, to teach the kids in the store respect and good manners. He told what he think Pop would have wanted, for people to be protected and find the good in them, while using the ring as an example, and telling the people to stand up against criminals. After he was done, he approached Aisha and gave back her father's ring. Aisha asked if he was one of them, Cage responded that he does give a damn and hugged her.
After the service, Cage confronted Cottonmouth, mocking him for trying to get Harlem against him. Cottonmouth laughed and stated that the war was still going on between them, but Cage gave another threat. As he left him, Cage was approached by Misty Knight, who was furious that he got all of Harlem involved with his heroism. She pleaded to let her get Cottonmouth the legal way, but Cage took note that it will all lead to him getting out of jail. Knight took note that now Harlem was vulnerable and that he needed to leave, but Cage stated that he was going nowhere and entered the Barber Shop.
Reunited with a Friend
Cage went jogging one morning, unknown that Trish Walker still did her own radio segment on Trish Talk dedicated to him and his recent actions within Harlem. One woman thought that Cage was not to be trusted, where as, one man said he knew him personally and that he always meant good. Walker then took note that the only ones complimenting all of Cage's recent actions, were folks that knew him personally, she also gave him her own personal thanks, knowing that he is using his powers for good to help the people of his neighborhood against all the criminals making their lives dangerous.
While still jogging through the city, Cage stopped when he caught sight of Mariah Dillard, who was doing an interview for the news about her own work with the New Harlem Renaissance campaign, describing her vision for the future of Harlem. Once the interview was over, he gained her attention. He informed Dillard that once he had shut Cottonmouth's criminal empire down, she would be next along with Harlem's Paradise and everything Mama Mabel and her family had built up over the years. Dillard asked if that was a threat against her, but Cage insisted that it was not and then left to continue his jog while Dillard continued her interview about Harlem.
Later, Cage joined Bobby Fish at a local diner, where they discussed how they would be able to keep Pop's Barber Shop open in Harlem in order to honor Pop's memory within the community, with Cage noting that he intended to leave once Cottonmouth was arrested. Fish continued pushing Cage into becoming a hero, suggesting that he could wear a mask to hide his identity, and if not then he should play professional football. Cage, however, insisted that he was not a hero, so Fish joked that could be his tag line: I am no hero, pay me. The two men chuckled and continued to eat their meal.
While still eating with Fist, Cage was greeted by Claire Temple, who had been speaking with her own mother Soledad Temple. Seeing that Cage was still unsure who she was, Temple then reminded him of how Jessica Jones brought him to Metro-General Hospital in the wake of their fight against Kilgrave, at which point Cage clicked and happily greeted Temple despite clearly not recalling her name. Fish then introduced himself Temple, complimented her beauty and left the two of them alone. Cage offered her a seat, which she accepted, causing awkward silence between the two of them.
Cage started the conversation, claiming that Temple didn't have to do what she did for him back at Jones' Apartment in saving his life; however, Temple told him that all she wanted to know was whether he was okay or not after the Duel of Delaney Hall. As Temple claimed that saving someone's life meant worrying about them later on, she went on to remind him of the shotgun blast that Jones fired into his head which should have destroyed his skull and began questioning how it was even possible that he had survived it. Cage asked if she thought he was a freak due to his superhuman abilities, but Temple stated that she now thought he was amazing for them.
Cage, however, stated that he wants to be normal, just like everyone else, but Temple asked why he should hide his gifts if he was never going to use them, noting that she believed that he could use his unbreakable skin and superhuman strength to do great things all across New York City, not just in Harlem, just like Daredevil and the other heroes in the world. Hearing this idea from Temple, Cage then paused and paid for his meal, apologizing to Temple while claiming that he had to be somewhere and left. Temple, however, followed closely behind him, not giving up on making him a hero.
As Cage walked back to Pop's Barber Shop, with Claire Temple still following behind him, Cage continued explaining to her that the real reason that he had gone into New York City was to remain hidden. However, Temple noted that surviving a fallen building and surviving bullets would cause a lot of attention. When Cage opened the door to the Barber Shop, he was surprised to find the door unlocked. He and Temple followed a trail of blood and found Detective Rafael Scarfe bleeding on the floor where he was waiting for Cage.
Scarfe demanded no cops, not even Misty Knight, when Cage asked why he wanted his help and Scarfe claimed it was because he didn't trust anyone within the New York City Police Department. Just as Temple suggested taking Scarfe to a hospital, he refused, claiming he would get killed by those who were targeting him, stating just like how they found Chico Diaz. Despite just learning that Diaz had been killed, Cage then helped Temple move Scarfe from the floor onto one of the barber chairs, where Temple began to operate to remove the bullets lodged in Scarfe's body which were killing him.
They continued to heal Scarfe, as he still laid bleeding on the barber chair. Temple then revealed that removing the bullet on Scarfe's side could cause major internal bleeding. Cage, still not trusting of Scarfe, asked why he should not just simply turn him over to the police; but Scarfe simply stated that they were trying to kill him. Scarfe then requested to lay low at the Barber Shop, but Cage demanded the truth about Scarfe's predicament. Scarfe, under a lot of pain from the bullet wounds, finally revealed that it was Cottonmouth after working for him and giving him Shameek Smith's stolen guns.
When Cage asked why he thinks he is qualified to protect Scarfe, he took note of him surviving both the Attack on Pop's Barber Shop and also the Destruction of Genghis Connie's. Cage however noted that he mentioned Diaz's name when he passed out, demanding to know what happened to him; after he hesitated a bit, he revealed that he killed him as ordered by Cottonmouth. Cage, enraged, then began to choke Scarfe. However, Temple convinced Cage that he was not a killer, as he took his hand off of his neck and decided to leave Scarfe to bleed to death from the gunshots in the Barber Shop.
However, while Cage and Temple went to leave, Scarfe begged for his protection, noting that he was indeed corrupt, but he insisted that Cottonmouth was worse and he had evidence that could put him to jail for all of his crimes against Harlem. This caused them to stop as Scarfe revealed that in his Apartment, he had kept notes about every crime that was covered up by Cottonmouth's orders, as well as all of the bodies disposed of at Joel Spurlock's, which included Tone and Diaz, as well as the names of every cop who was on Cottonmouth's payroll. With that, Cage then left for Scarfe's apartment.
Leaving him inside the Barber Shop with Temple, Cage soon found Scarfe's apartment, unaware both that Detective Misty Knight and Lieutenant Perez were still keeping their eyes on the place. As he approached the door, he unlocked it by breaking the knob and then running up to his room without being seen by anyone else in the building. As Cage then searched everywhere throughout Scarfe's Apartment, but he eventually found the notes hidden underneath the floorboards relating to Cornell Stokes many crimes of which Scarfe had been involved with throughout all of the many years.
As he looked through them, Cage heard Dogs barking and footsteps charging up the stairs as Knight and Perez ran up to investigate what was happening. With little time left to get away, Cage then jumped out the window all the way down to the ground of New York City and proceeded to run to the sound of Knight's voice calling out for him as she watched as an unbreakable man ran away from an impossible to survive drop. With the information he had, Cage then made his way back towards the Barbers Shop to confront Scarfe and make a plan for finally arresting Cottonmouth once and for all.
- "I'm gonna hand him and the evidence over. The DA can take it from there. Get him round-the-clock protection until he can testify against Cottonmouth."
"I'm dying back here. You're still thinking about Cottonmouth?"
"Yeah, you should be, too. If he's got as many cops working for him as you say, he'll have them in the streets looking for us."
- ―Luke Cage and Rafael Scarfe[src]
Cage returned to Pop's Barber Shop where he informed the nearly unconscious Rafael Scarfe and Claire Temple that since his search for the evidence, now Detective Misty Knight had found out that he was in the apartment and they would be coming to the shop very soon to arrest them all. Cage stated that he would need to carry Scarfe somewhere where evidence would matter and began to leave to hail a cab; however, Temple suggested her mother's company van to take them there as it was arriving.
Cage, then, carried Scarfe to the Van, which was waiting in the back. Much to his dissatisfaction with the vehicle, he was approached by Temple's mother, who demanded her daughter comes back safe under the threat of death. Cage guaranteed it, as he put Scarfe in the back, with Temple, and began to drive through New York City to get Scarfe to safety. Temple noted that Scarfe was bleeding violently and needed surgery, however, Cage revealed that he was taking Scarfe to the nearest police precinct, to drop him off and the evidence, stating that D.A. Blake Tower could then take care of the rest.
When Scarfe noted that he should go to Metro-General Hospital, Cage stated that due to much of the New York City Police Department being under Cottonmouth's payroll, that would make him an easy target. Much to Cage's frustration, he found traffic unusually congested. Cage guessed that Cottonmouth closed off the streets to find Scarfe. Temple suggested a sharp right on the next street, as a shortcut; Cage did that, unaware that they were being followed by Zip's people who began shooting. Cage drove the van through the backstreets before hiding and punching into a building.
Cage, Temple and Scarfe walked down a long hallway in the building they were in, trying to find the police headquarters, while Scarfe had begun complaining of feeling the cold due to his near fatal injuries. However, gunfire sprayed Cage's back and he shielded Temple and Scarfe from harm, leaving Temple and Scarfe to continue moving forward while he stayed behind and blocked the path. As their guns had failed to work, one man shot out a tear gas canister, but that only agitated Cage, as he walked towards the thugs, brushing off all their bullets before he then knocked them out one by one.
As soon as he was finished taking out Cottonmouth's thugs, Cage then went back outside in the nick of time, to stop a van from running over Temple and Scarfe, allowing the van to slam into his own body as it was stopped in its tracks while Cage remained unharmed. He was met by Detective Misty Knight, who ran to see Scarfe just as Scarfe began to convulse, as Temple laid him on the ground to give him some comfort. Knight held onto Scarfe's hands, who apologized for all of his misdeeds, including killing Chico Diaz and then died, as Knight began to weep for her fallen partner and friend.
While Cottonmouth was arrested by Knight, Cage and Temple spent the rest of the night walking down the streets of Harlem. Temple took note that Cage was able to do all of the extraordinary things he did earlier and was in disbelief that he doesn't think that he was special; Cage simply replied that he doesn't know what he was, but Temple stated that he should know. Cage stated that with Cottonmouth in jail, he is done. Temple stated that she was willing to help him use his powers for good, Cage then asked if she would like to go out for a cup of coffee, but Temple rejected all Cage's flirting.
Failure of the Law
- "What do you expect me to do? I tried to do things the right way. Cops let him go."
"Cops can only do so much. You have the power to do more. Look at what's happening in Hell's Kitchen."
"You mean that cat running around beating people up? That's what you want me to be?"
- ―Luke Cage and Claire Temple[src]
Filled with confidence since his victory, Cage tracked down a gun deal run by Zip and interrupted it, giving everyone there a casual warning before laughing as they ran away in fear. While Cage began bending the guns in half with his bare hands, Zip informed him that Cottonmouth was in fact getting free and therefore Cage's actions and Rafael Scarfe's death had seemingly meant nothing. Cage considered this and what he was going to do next while Zip ran away from him before he could be arrested.
Cage walked to the 29th Precinct Police Station just in time to watch as Cottonmouth walked free having just been freed by his lawyer Benjamin Donovan. Cage watched as Cottonmouth got into his car and prepared to leave to return to Harlem's Paradise, as the enemies briefly locked eyes with one another, with Cottonmouth smiling at Cage before departing the scene. Cage looked across the street and saw Misty Knight, looking equally disappointed to see Cottonmouth going free despite her partner's death at his hands, while Cage then walked away to consider his next move against Cottonmouth.
Returning to Pop's Barber Shop, Cage was greeted by Bobby Fish who questioned how Cottonmouth had walked free despite all of the evidence against him, with Cage noting that Scarfe's statement was not enough and they could not even convict him for Joel Spurlock's body removals as Spurlock would be going to jail without naming Cottonmouth. They were then joined by Claire Temple who told Cage that he should not give up on trying to send Cottonmouth to jail, leading to Cage questioning why it had become his responsibility to solve all of the problems which were involving Cottonmouth.
Temple noted Cage had the power to stop Cottonmouth, comparing his actions to those of Daredevil who had taken down Wilson Fisk. Temple told Cage to get justice himself, noting that he could not be hurt: Therefore, he should not be afraid of Cottonmouth. They were then interrupted by the phone ringing, which Fish got up to answer, telling Cage that it was in fact Cottonmouth on the other end. Taking the call, Cage was invited to Harlem's Paradise to make their peace before more violence, which Cage accepted, despite Cottonmouth insulting him by noting his previous job as a dishwasher.
Cage arrived at Harlem's Paradise where he found Cottonmouth was playing a tune on the keyboard, which Cage complimented as he noted that Cottonmouth clearly had talent. Cage noted that this was the first time he had seen him without Zip or other bodyguards, so Cottonmouth invited Cage to kill him, which he refused as he noted he was not a murderer. Cage expressed he wish for Cottonmouth to confess his crimes to Detective Misty Knight and go to jail, which Cottonmouth had refused to do, noting that Cage was no longer a sheriff, making it clear that he now knew of Cage's past life as Carl Lucas, much to Cage's utter horror.
Cottonmouth proceeded to mock Cage's original name, before then noting that if Cage's past was exposed then he would be sent back to Seagate Prison to continue his sentence. Cage tried to argue that Cottonmouth would never snitch, but Cottonmouth claimed that this rule of honor did not apply to Cage. While Cage still remained silent, Cottonmouth compared him to Captain America due to his actions around Harlem, but claimed he was no better than a criminal like him, despite Cage insisting that he was innocent of the crimes he went to jail for, which Cottonmouth proceeded to merely laugh at.
Having Cage now at his mercy, Cottonmouth told him that he still had use for bulletproof men and therefore he intended to use Cage as his own hired goon, vowing that if Cage dared step out of line, then he would have him sent back to Seagate Prison where he would then be charged for Albert Rackham's death as well as his escape. Cottonmouth then dismissed Cage from his office as Cage walked away through the streets of New York City considering what actions he would now take as his previous life was now in serious danger of being exposed to the world and his life being finished.
Cage quickly returned to Pop's Barber Shop where he packed his bags and prepared to once again go into hiding to avoid his past catching up on him. As he was packing, Cage was confronted by Claire Temple who demanded to know what was happening, before telling him that if he ran away now then he would spend the rest of his life running. Cage, however, noted that him not running had still resulted in the death of Pop and the attack on Connie Lin, claiming he was no good. Temple, however, argued that Cage had a chance to bring down Cottonmouth and inspire the people of Harlem.
Walking down Harlem, Cage encountered D.W. Griffith who was selling footage of the Battle of New York and clips of the Avengers, although Griffith was still excited at the concept of filming footage involving Cage demonstrating his powers, which Cage refused to get involved with. Cage however, noted that Griffith knew of most things that were happening in the criminal world of Harlem and requested that he point him in the direction of Domingo Colon, the man who had bought the guns from Cottonmouth which Cage's own friends, including Chico Diaz and Shameek Smith had died for.
Cage vs Colon
Using the new information provided by D.W. Griffith, Cage arrived inside Colon's Gym where he then personally confronted the clearly surprised and heavily protected Domingo Colon. Cage used his own super human strength to easily subdue many of Colon's bodyguards before the last few aimed their guns at him, which Cage merely scoffed at. Cage allowed the men to shoot him multiple times before then noting how much he hated buying new clothes after being shot, and then throwing all the men across the gym with ease.
With Colon now defenseless, Cage then cornered him in his office and then demanded the Hammer Industries guns that Colon had paid for from Cottonmouth and that Chico Diaz and Shameek Smith died for. Despite Cage being clear about what guns he had wanted, Colon still denied all knowledge of the guns, leading to Cage then threatening to throw Colon in the Hudson River if he did not comply, until Colon finally handed over the guns which had been designed by Justin Hammer, much to Cage's delight as he even took away a new hoody from Colon on his way out of the door of his gym.
Cage then walked back to the 29th Precinct Police Station where he was greeted by Detective Misty Knight who complimented Cage on his new hoody. Knight noted how Cage was full of surprises which worried her, due to her knowing almost nothing about his own past. Knight questioned why Rafael Scarfe had gone to Cage for his help before Cage pointed her to all the Hammer Industries guns he had recovered and hidden in a van. Cage promised that he was preparing to bring down Cottonmouth, telling her to be ready when he made his move, although Cage refused to hand over a statement.
Twisted Family Reunion
Cage and Claire Temple took a walk for a while as they discussed Cage's outfit the day he escaped from Seagate Prison before Temple asked about Cage's father who Cage admitted did not know he was still alive, claiming that his father viewed him as a shame upon their family. Cage explained that his father had not wished to raise up a criminal son so was ashamed when Cage had been sent to Seagate Prison, despite Temple pointing out it had not been his fault, noting that his father would likely be proud of the man Cage had become since gaining his powers. Cage then told Temple that he was done running and warned her about staying near him as a result due to the vast number of people who were already getting hurt.
As Temple thanked Cage for telling his life story and recommended Matt Murdock to be Cage's lawyer, discreetly, Diamondback was hiding far away, watching closely. He took aim with his sniper and the Judas Bullet and fired a single shot, hitting Cage in the stomach and penetrating his seemingly unbreakable skin. Feeling the impact of the bullet, Cage placed his hand on his stomach and felt all the blood dripping out before he fell to the ground and clutched the wound in agony while Temple attempted to help him. While Temple tried to stop the bleeding, Cage briefly caught sight of the shooter.
Due to the wound, Cage went into shock and lost consciousness and awoke in an ambulance on it's way to Metro-General Hospital, with Temple still caring for the gunshot wound and noting she had called Manny for aid. Although Cage insisted that he could not be on the hospital's systems due to being exposed, Temple assured him he would not be while she forced him to drink to keep from getting dehydrated. While Temple and Cage discussed how he could have been shot and if the bullet was inside him, Diamondback followed them from behind and shot their van, causing it to roll over.
Dragging themselves out of the crashed ambulance, both Cage and Temple then hid behind a car while Diamondback followed closely behind with his Hammer Industries weapons. Much to Cage's shock, Diamondback called out to him by quoting The Warriors, causing him to realize that he was being chased by Willis Stryker, as Stryker even called him by his original name why telling him to come out and play. While Cage and Temple remained hidden, Diamondback continued threatening them until he escaped after hearing a police siren, telling Cage to keep on running while he chased them down.
They both went to a Harlem Women's Clinic where Temple attempted to remove the bullet from Cage's stomach, causing him great pain whenever she touched the wound although he still refused any painkillers out of fear his that mind would then be compromised when Diamondback showed back up. They found that Cage's soft tissue skin was as unbreakable as the outside layer, making it impossible to get to the bullet. Using an ultrasound, Temple discovered that the bullet had exploded inside him and the shrapnel was moving slowly inwards. Temple promised to figure it out, reminding Cage of how she saved him when Jessica Jones had also shot him.
Cage's phone rang so Temple answered it, finding Misty Knight on the other end demanding that Cage come into the police station, explaining that Cottonmouth was dead and they needed to take a statement as a witness had placed him at the scene. Noting that Knight was trying to trace the call, Temple hung up. While Temple tested Cage's blood, noting that his powers healed him and trapped the shrapnel at the same time, Knight then appeared, surprised to see Cage wounded. When Knight was called by Mark Bailey, she informed Cage that he was under arrest for the murder of Cottonmouth.
Temple then noticed that Diamondback had reappeared and was taking aim at Cage, ordering him to get down as they took cover and avoided another Judas Bullet, which exploded into the wall. While Knight fired back and went to investigate, Cage and Temple were attacked, with Temple stabbing Diamondback in the arm while Cage threw him through the window and looked his former friend in the eye. Diamondback used Cage's brief pause to knee him in his gunshot wound, forcing Cage onto his knees from the pain before Cage threw Diamondback through yet another window.
Having discovered his gun was out of Judas Bullets, Diamondback struck Cage multiple times in his gunshot wound, knocking him down before Diamondback then turned around to leave. On his way out, Diamondback then took Knight as his hostage, shooting Cage in the stomach before making his escape. Cage had Temple help him back to his feet as he discovered Knight had been left alive but knocked unconscious outside the building while Diamondback had escaped through New York City. Leaving Temple to care for Knight's wounds, Cage went after Diamondback to end their fight.
Cage entered the empty United Palace Theatre, having found blood on the door handle, and began looking for Diamondback inside. There, Diamondback continued taunting Cage, quoting bible verses and pointing out that Cage was unable to sort out their relationship as he could not fix his mother destroying her life as well as their own issues with prison. Cage continued making his way through the theatre, trying to track down Diamondback there, listening to all of his taunts.
Finding Diamondback on the platform above him, Cage confronted his friend about the attempt on his life. Diamondback discussed Cage's father's disdain for him as they came face to face, with Cage comparing Diamondback to Cottonmouth. Despite Cage admitting he was not a good friend to him, Diamondback ignored him and called Cage a false idol to the people of Harlem. Diamondback then cruelly began mocking Cage about his hellish time in Seagate Penitentiary and the death of Reva Connors which enraged Cage, demanding that Diamondback keep Connors' name out of his mouth.
As Cage claimed that Willis Stryker had ruined his life, Diamondback claimed that he had sent Cage to hell and been disappointed that he had returned with superpowers. Diamondback then attempted to shoot Cage again with the Judas Bullet but Cage managed to dodge it and destroy the platform on which Diamondback was standing on top of, causing him to fall down to Cage's level. Getting back up the two friends fought a brutal battle with Diamondback taking advantage of Cage's wound to best him, kicking him in the stomach repeatedly until Cage was able to endure that kind of attack from him.
Cage managed to summon enough strength to flip Diamondback over, but this caused Cage to fall back to his knees. Diamondback continued to take advantage of Cage's weakness, as he picked up a steel pipe and repeatedly struck Cage with it, smiling as he mocked the fact that the seemingly indestructible Cage was now bleeding. Eventually however, Cage was able to disarm Diamondback, and toss him through the door and sending him flying into a pillar briefly knocking him out before Diamondback got back up and escaped into New York City with Cage following behind him.
Cage got out to the street to find Diamondback, having found he had escaped after their duel; however, Cage found himself struggling to even walk to the wound given to him by Diamondback during their first encounter. Finding himself now at a complete disadvantage, Cage was held at gunpoint by Diamondback who aimed one of his Hammer Industries rifles at his enemy, telling him the concept of the weapon he was using that the victim might possibly survive the first blast but would be killed by the second, with Diamondback clearly hoping that this shot would finally be enough to kill Cage.
As Cage tried to apologize to Diamondback and told him that he loved him like a brother, Diamondback, however, replied to him that they were indeed biological brothers, much to the complete shock of Cage. Before Cage could try and reply to this however, Diamondback then shot Cage in the shoulder with another Judas Bullet, causing him to fall into a garbage truck that drove off with Cage still inside it injured but alive. With another near fatal wound inflicted upon him, Cage lost consciousness as Diamondback allowed the truck he was in to drive away with Cage still inside of it.
Fighting with Cops
Cage eventually woke up inside the truck, still suffering from the pain caused by the two Judas Bullets now lodged in his chest. Despite all the pain he was in, Cage got out as the truck had stopped and then began trying to make his way back to Harlem. Seeking to disguise himself as best he could, Cage went into a dry cleaners shop, picking out a new hoodie to hide himself. While getting changed there, Cage saw a news report by Megan McLaren noting that he was being hunted by the police, much to the fear of Cage.
As Cage continued making his way through New York City, struggling to walk due to the amount of pain he was in, Cage was suddenly by a pair of New York City Police Department officers who suspected him of being drunk. Cage claimed to be simply going for a walk, but the officers demanded to see his identification regardless, much to the annoyance of Cage who questioned why they needed to see his identification if he was simply walking down the street and minding his own business. Having now been publicly accused of the murder of Cottonmouth and with Cage matching his description the officers asked Cage to immediately remove his hood for them.
Correctly identifying him the cops attempted to arrest Cage, drawing their guns and demanding that he get down on the ground. However, Cage refused to go down without a fight, Cage apologized before slapping officer Masterson around the head, knocking him out cold. Seeing the officer Herrera was now about to shoot, Cage protected Masterson with his own body before pushing Herrera through the air where he crashed into his own police car, knocking him out as well, while Cage suffered some pain from his wounds. Cage then moved them onto the street before taking the car and driving away.
Regrouping with Temple
Having resisted the New York City Police Department attempts to arrest him, Cage managed to locate Claire Temple at her mother's diner. Temple asked who the attacker was as she checked all his wounds while Cage explained that Willis Stryker was his former best friend and that he was now obsessed to kill him. Temple noted that his wounds are getting infected and if left untreated, Cage would die. Cage told Temple that Noah Burstein was the only man who could help him.
After some convincing by Temple, Cage reluctantly agreed to go and look for Burstein for aid and they took Temple's mother's car to drive to Burstein's address in Georgia. During the journey, Cage's wounds got worse and it was getting harder for him to breath while Temple did her best to calm and reassure him. Cage told her all about what Diamondback told him and revealed that during their fight, Stryker told him that they were brothers as they had shared the same father. Cage refused to accept this as the truth, believing Diamondback was lying to him and in an attempt to get inside Cage's head.
Eventually they reached Noah Burstein's House and found him, with Burstein recognized Cage as Carl Lucas, amazed to see him alive after so many years. They brought Cage into his house and put him on a couch as Cage moaned from the pain. Burstein was shocked that Cage survived the experiment at Seagate Prison and that he didn't have any scars on him from the explosion that had killed Albert Rackham and destroyed the entire laboratory all around him. Cage noted that until the night before, his skin had been made completely bulletproof as a direct result of Burstein's experiment.
They explained the situation to him as Cage showed the wounds made by the Judas Bullets and Temple noted that it was impossible to cut into his skin to remove the shrapnel. As Burstein explained that he did not have the resources to help, they gave him Reva Connors's drive that he had recovered from Kilgrave. Burstein unlocked it and found all the information of the experiment which would allow him to possibly save Cage's life, amazed that Connors had died to protect it. Cage started to cough blood and he knew his time was swiftly running out as he urged Burstein to find a way to help him.
A Painful Surgery
- "Just so we're clear, what could go wrong?"
"Well, your your skin could peel off like wax paper, and after about ten seconds, you'd beg me to put a bullet in your head because the pain would be so bad. But your your head looks fine, so I guess the bullet would ricochet off your skull."
- ―Luke Cage and Noah Burstein[src]
Cage was taken into the barn where Noah Burstein had built his own makeshift lab. Cage asked him how he got all of the equipment as Burstein explained that as the authorities had covered Albert Rackham's death, he stole what he could. Cage asked why he was chosen, Burstein answered that it was because of his strength. Cage insisted that Reva Connors told him that she begged him to do it while Burstein noted that Cage was already tapped to the program. Cage was dismayed that Connors hid this.
Burstein explained that he needed to get a blood sample for his own research, but discovered he could not inject into Cage's skin. Finding an alternative solution, Claire Temple gained the sample Burstein had needed by puncturing Cage's soft tissues down his throat with a needle, something which Cage reluctantly allowed. Having painfully gotten the blood sample, Burstein used to blood and the information from the drive to get an understanding of how to help Cage, noting the experiment was designed in order to aid the United States Army by creating new artificial skin for burn victims.
While Cage was laid down on a table and his shirt was removed to examine his wounds, Temple and Burstein discussed what had happened to Cage's skin during the experiment at Seagate Prison and exactly how the Judas Bullets were able to penetrate his skin. Burstein explained to Cage that he can remove the shrapnel from his body but, much to Cage's horror, he will need to be placed in hot acid to weaken his skin enough for them to take out the shrapnel and save his life, explaining that he knew Rackham turning up the heat during the experiment is what had made it work.
As they prepared for the procedure, Temple recommended that if the procedure became too painful then he should make a fist to tell them to stop. Seeing that Burstein was out of earshot, Cage questioned if Temple trusted Burstein, to which she insisted that she still did not. Fearing the worst, Cage then told Temple that if anything happened to him, she must make sure that Burstein does not keep a hold of Connors' data, insisting that all the data cannot fall into the wrong hands, noting that he would have the potential to create an army of new unbreakable soldiers who were all just like Cage.
They put a breathing mask on Cage and they slowly lowered the clearly nervous Cage down into the hot acid. When the boiling acid touched his skin, Cage started screaming in utter agony. Fearing his heart would stop, Temple raised him up which Burstein protested as they needed more time to weaken the skin. Burstein lowered Cage back into the acid again, but they were still unable to weaken Cage's skin. Due to the intense pain the acid caused, Cage's heart stopped beating and he lost consciousness, forcing Temple to revive him by throwing a heater in the water and electrocuting Cage.
Considering why the experiment was not working, Temple managed to deduce that all they were missing was the heat. In order to weaken Cage's skin, they needed to have the acid boiling, noting that it was Albert Rackham increasing the heat beyond his control that had made the original experiment work. Despite the risk of it killing Cage, Temple and Burstein began heating up the temperature to boiling levels, until Cage's skin weakened enough for Temple. While Cage's vitals went critical, Temple was able to successfully remove all the shrapnel out from his body, finally saving Cage's life.
A Painful Revelation
- "We were trash. You knew no one would care if we were gone."
"That was the point of Reva's therapy sessions. To separate the trash from the triumphant. To pick out those subjects that were most psychologically ready to survive the process, Carl."
"Stop calling me that! I'm Luke. Carl died at Seagate."
- ―Luke Cage and Noah Burstein[src]
The next morning, Cage woke up after his painful surgery, where he teased Claire Temple by faking amnesia. A moment later, Cage talked to Noah Burstein, as he was ready to get his questions answered. He confronted Burstein about all those who have died because of the experiments he had conducted at Seagate Prison before him but Burstein reasoned that it was worth the price of Immortality, claiming that this research would be hugely beneficial to the United States Army as they could heal wounds or make the soldiers indestructible, with the possibility of curing HIV and cancer in the future, which had made Cage nervous.
Cage asked about if the ones responsible for Burstein's experiments knew he was there with the equipment; however, Burstein assured him that they did not as they barely kept track of him nowadays, an answer that Cage did not believe, claiming that Burstein was too valuable to not keep track of. Burstein then left Cage and Temple alone in the barn as he went back into his home and invited them to take what they wanted from his fridge. Once they were alone, both Temple and Cage agreed that neither of them trusted Burstein at all despite all he had just recently done to save Cage's life.
They used the opportunity of being alone to look at the unlocked files from Reva Connors, with Cage noting this might be their only chance to get into the hard drive. Knowing that Connors had a lot of secrets, Cage searched the files under his name. Opening the files, they found video logs of Connors detailing on Carl Lucas and his own progress, noting that his friendship with Squabbles was something they could exploit, which Albert Rackham had done before having Squabbles killed by Shades and Comanche. The truth was clear. Connors had been part of the experiment all along and that she used him. Cage took the revelation about his late wife's allegiance hard.
By then Burstein had returned and voiced that he should not have seen that. While Cage was furious at having been lied to, Burstein tried to explain that the whole point of Connors' therapy session was to separate trash from the triumphant, in order to find the one subject that was capable of surviving the experiment. Burstein revealed that Connors lied to everybody, claiming that this was her job she was hired to do, to manipulate Carl Lucas to become the success that they had needed, telling Cage that he was the future and comparing him to a walking version of the fountain of youth.
Unable to handle his fury any longer, Cage became enraged when Burstein continued to call him Carl Lucas and proceeded to destroy Burstein's lab, grabbing his computer and smashing it against a wall before grabbing some farming equipment and destroying the walls of his laboratory. Once he had calmed down a bit, Cage then warned Burstein to never do the same procedure on people again and left the barn, followed closely by Temple who had now refused to accept Burstein's offer to work with him and had taken Connors' hard-drive with her as she had then quickly caught up with Cage.
While overlooking Seagate Prison, Cage and Temple discussed the love he had felt for Connors, which he felt betrayed by having now learned that she was lying to him. Cage claimed that the idea of Connors, whom had kept him sane while in prison, was what he had fallen in love with, rather than the person herself. They discussed if Cage should give up, which Temple claimed he should not as they had come too far, as they agreed to go after Diamondback and figure out his hatred for Cage. They decided to go to Savannah to learn why Willis Stryker hated him, with Cage agreeing to drive.
Revisiting the Past
- "Had Willis not framed me, I wouldn't have gone to Seagate. No Seagate, no powers. Reva would still be alive."
"How is that your fault?"
"It's not my fault. My father started this whole thing. Willis hates me because my father hates the idea of him. What he doesn't realize is that my father never really liked me very much either."
- ―Luke Cage and Claire Temple[src]
Reaching Savannah, they stopped at Baptist Church which Cage told Claire Temple had once belonged to his father, pointing towards a sign that had originally been made by his own grandfather after World War II. As they moved inside the church, Temple asked what happened and why there seemed to be nobody left inside the church, to which Cage claimed he did not know as they stepped inside to take a better look, finding that the church was now abandoned and covered on the inside with graffiti.
As he overlooked the damaged church, Cage recalled his years as a child where he had been overhearing several conversations with his own father and mother about caring for his son, which in turn helped him to recall encountering Dana Stryker leaving his father's office during their affair. Thinking over everything that he had encountered when he was a child growing up inside that church, Cage came to the realization that what Willis Stryker had said to him was in fact the truth, recalling his mother threatening to stop funding all of Willis' education at Lieber Academy if Dana did not stay silent.
Being dragged back to reality by Temple, Cage finally admitted that it was true that Diamondback was his own brother, noting that nobody had ever told him this during his youth. Cage told Temple how when he had born, he had been regarded as the miracle baby, despite Stryker having been born first. Cage noted that Diamondback started this by sending Cage to Seagate Prison, noting that if that had not happened then he would never have gotten his powers and Reva Connors would still be alive. Cage then vowed to return to Harlem and also stop all of Diamondback's plans himself.
Finally returning back to Harlem, Cage learned from D.W. Griffith that he was a public enemy having been blamed for attacking the New York City Police Department while he had been on the run, although Griffith promised to stay quiet about having seen him. He learned from Griffith there was a gathering in Harlem's Paradise where people against his actions were getting together, so Cage and Temple went in to try and get a look first hand at what was happening.
Keeping distance from the crowd as Mariah Dillard gave a speech condemning Cage's actions and blaming him for the recent chaos, Cage soon spotted Diamondback overlooking the entire room during Dillard and Reverend John Pope's speeches condemning the actions of Cage, with Dillard comparing him to Jessica Jones and her fight against Kilgrave which she doubted. While Cage looked over the room, he spotted Misty Knight was heading toward Diamondback and noticed that she had been spotted doing so. Knowing that she needed back up, Cage told Temple to stay where she was.
Heading upstairs to Cottonmouth's former office, Cage managed to get there in time before she got killed by Diamondback, who had drawn his guns and fired upon Knight, causing chaos to erupt in the building. Charging into the room, Cage protected Knight from Diamondback's bullets with his own body. Knowing that he can't be sure if Diamondback got more of the Judas Bullets which could still kill him, Cage retreated with Knight in his arms. As all the crowds dispersed, Cage took cover under the bar and protected Knight from getting shot as more of Diamondback's crew fired at them.
Knight urged Cage to rush to the exit, but he told her that he couldn't cover her from every angle. Looking out over the chaos, Cage saw Damon Boone hiding from all the bullets before he spotted Claire Temple, he motioned her to get out of the club while she pointed out an exit for them. When Cage shows an opening, he lifted Knight and headed toward the kitchen as Zip and the other goons continued shooting him. Once in the kitchen, Cage set down Knight before he immediately barricaded the door by pushing a large fridge in it's path which could not be moved by any of Diamondback's men.
Checking on Knight's wound, Cage noticed that she was bleeding fast as Diamondback seemed to have shot an artery, so he was forced to push Knight's own finger into the wound in an attempt to lose down the bleeding. Knowing that they could not stay there for much longer as the door would soon be destroyed, Cage took Knight down a hidden basement in the kitchen, while she questioned who Willis Stryker was as Cage admitted he was his half brother. They reached the basement in time before Diamondback blew the kitchen with the help of Shades, before they entered and failed to them.
While bandaging Knight's wounds as best he could, Cage watched as Knight called up Priscilla Ridley as the New York City Police Department were now outside, although she soon lost signal before she could explain the situation. Knight told Cage to get out while he still could, but he refused to leave her as she was bleeding out. Fearful of what was coming, Knight expressed her fear of bleeding out on the floor like Rafael Scarfe had done when he had been shot by Cottonmouth, but Cage calmly promised Knight that he would not allow that to happen while she was still under his watch.
Going After Diamondback
As Cage gave Misty Knight some water, they discussed what Willis Stryker wanted, with Cage explaining that Stryker was the one who had sent him to Seagate Prison and had likely also set him up for the murder of Cottonmouth as well, with Knight noting he was likely organizing this entire situation just to blame Cage for it. While they discussed what to do next as Knight called him a hero, Cage heard faint tapping from the walls. Smashing a hole through the wall with his fist, Cage found Temple was still in Harlem's Paradise, jokingly noting that she still never did as Cage told her to do.
While Temple went to get some things to help stabilizing Knight's wounds as she insulted the poor work Cage had done, Diamondback made an announcement to Cage through the speaker. He warned Cage that if he did not surrender himself with Knight, he was willing kill a hostage every ten minutes, promising to start with Damon Boone. Knowing that Diamondback was not bluffing, Cage intended to go after him, although Knight suggested that he did not have to go and fight as Harlem's Paradise was currently surrounded by the New York City Police Department. Cage, however, still left as he then told Temple to lay low and that he would come back for them.
As Cage prepared to leave, Temple noted that Candace Miller had been hired by Mariah Dillard to frame him for Cottonmouth's death. Cage then headed to find Diamondback, he was taunted by him from the speakers. Along the way, Cage fought against Diamondback's goons while he listened as Diamondback continued talking on the speakers and told his story about his imprisonment for stealing a car while Cage had been freed by their father and joined the United States Marine Corps. Diamondback explained how he had been sent for hard time upon killing another prisoner out of self defense.
Cage was forced to listen as Diamondback went on to explain how his mother died alone from cancer while Stryker was imprisoned, something he still blamed Cage for. While Cage easily subdued men who tried to use martial arts against him while still making his way up the stairs ready to confront his brother, he listened as Diamondback armed himself with the Judas Gauntlet and proceeded to kill Boone with him, causing damage to Boone's body which he could easily blame Cage for. While Diamondback had ordered Shades to remove Boone's corpse, Cage then furiously punched a wall.
Arrested by Misunderstanding
Having cut the power across the building, Cage managed to reach the main hall where he proceeded to knock out Sugar with a swat to the head before he got the crowd of people out. Except Candace Miller who was revealed to still be held hostage by Diamondback, who held her at the edge of the platform above them with a gun held to her back. Diamondback revealed himself and Miller to Cage, in his attempt to force Cage to stay behind to be captured in order to save Miller's life as he held a gun to her back.
Cage tried to talk to Diamondback and convince him to let Miller go free and claiming they could have solved their problems years earlier, but Diamondback instead traded insults, claiming he wished Cage had died during childbirth. but despite Cage's attempts to talk to his brother, he was unreasonable, even when Cage mentioned his fondness for Dana Stryker, Diamondback responded by claiming that he could never stand Etta Lucas, calling her a bitch. Diamondback taunted Cage by telling him that Mariah Dillard had supplied them with Judas Bullets and were thus now lethal on him.
Having the SWAT teams preparing to storm Harlem's Paradise, Diamondback gave Cage the choice to either run and allow Miller to die, or save Miller and be arrested or killed. Despite Cage still trying to reason with him, Diamondback then dropped Miller from the balcony and Cage managed to save her just in time, managing to avoid Diamondback's Judas Bullet which he fired at him. As his brother made his escape with the help of Zip, Cage was surrounded by SWAT team who proceed to arrest him, with Miller apologizing for her involvement as Cage put up his hands and was arrested.
With Diamondback's goons, including Shades, also being taken into custody, Cage was led out of the club by the SWAT team under the supervision of Blake Tower and Priscilla Ridley and the rest of the New York City Police Department who were still monitoring the situation. While Misty Knight was taken to Metro-General Hospital to cover, she insisted to Ridley that Cage was innocent and tried to insist that Diamondback was the guilty one. Stepping outside, Cage spotted Claire Temple watching from afar and he mouthed her to leave while he was being put into the back of the police van.
Fugitive from the Law
Before Mario Green's SWAT teams led Cage away, he was approached by Misty Knight. Outwardly, she reprimanded him, but in truth, Knight had warned Cage not to do anything reckless before she got back to the 29th Precinct Police Station. As the van drove away, Cage used an opening to break himself free of his chains and made his escape. After running for a short while, Cage reached an alley where he was held at gunpoint by John Polsky. Cage told him that he needed to go and find the man responsible for this and that he would rather die than go back to Seagate Penitentiary. The cop told him that he heard about the people calling Cage a hero and revealed that he was a frequent of Pop's Barber Shop. Choosing to believe him, the cop let Cage go and urged him to catch Diamondback, as Cage ran down the streets.
Next morning, Cage wandered in the streets and tried to remain hidden by keeping his hoodie up. He spotted two thugs entering a shop to commit a robbery. When Cage entered the shop, he found one of the robbers pointing a gun at the shop-owner and Method Man. Cage quickly dispatched the thugs. He shared his respect with Method Man before calling Bobby Fish. Before he left the shop, he switched hoodies with Method Man.
Reunion with Bobby Fish
Cage returned back Pop's Barber Shop to meet Bobby Fish, as he asked why Cage came back. Cage told him that he had to as he needs to take down Diamondback before he hurt anybody else. Cage discussed his options with Fish. Knowing that he could not rely on tailing Mariah Dillard, with Shades in jail, Misty Knight being busy at the 29th Precinct Police Station, Cage's only option was to find Turk Barrett and get information out of him, as Fish made sure to lure Barrett out.
Confronting Turk Barrett
During the evening, Cage held Turk Barrett at an alley, as Cage furiously blamed him for being the cause of Pop's death. Barrett reasoned that he could not have known that Tone would have shoot up the shop. When Cage asked about Diamondback, Barrett stalled the answer. Angered, Cage one-handedly picked Barrett up and threw him at the nearby garbage, as Cage proceed to crush the garbage. Intimidated, Barrett quickly revealed that Diamondback was at a Warehouse at Harlem River. Cage left Barrett to his misery in the garbage.
Search for Diamondback
Reaching the Warehouse, Cage had found the place in a mess, as he found the evidence that there was a shootout between Diamondback and Domingo Colon. Cage found the latter dying on the floor, before Cage found that Diamondback had armed a bomb in the warehouse. Cage managed to get Colon out in time before it exploded. Before Colon died from his injuries, he told Cage that Diamondback had a new weapon that even Cage could not stop.
- "I'm done, Willis. I'm not doing this anymore."
"You ain't done. Not till one of us is dead."
"You're more like Dad than you think. When I got shipped to Seagate he called me a mistake, too. I'm not paying for his sins anymore. And neither should you. You want me dead? Then kill me. Do it!"
- ―Luke Cage and Diamondback[src]
Once he had exchanged information, Cage headed back to Pop's Barber Shop. Soon after, Mariah Dillard and Shades entered the shop. They told Cage that they came to offer him a truce and an alliance against Diamondback. They offered that in exchange for helping him find Diamondback, Cage would stop hunting them and, in addition, they would help exonerate him from his crimes as both Carl Lucas and Luke Cage. As Cage considered the offer, Misty Knight appeared, having been following Cage. Before the tension got violent, they were interrupted when a grenade exploded outside the shop. Diamondback entered the shop. Fully dressed in an advanced Power Armor and ready to fight Cage.
Both brothers engaged in a fierce combat. Using his power armor, Diamondback was able to match Cage's strength as well as being protected from his attacks. Nevertheless, Cage kept countering his brother's attacks thanks to his natural enhanced strength as well as being protected by his own bulletproof skin. The battle wrecked Pop's Barber Shop further. Eventually Diamondback threw Cage through the window and took the fight on the street.
Pressing his advantage, Diamondback started landing harder hits on Cage. Their fight attracted the attention of the people of Harlem. They all gathered and encouraged Cage to win his fight. During their fight, Cage talked to Stryker and told his brother that he was done. Stryker insisted on fighting him. Cage told him that he was more like their father than he thought. Cage urged that he should try and kill him. When Stryker hesitated for a brief moment, Cage enraged him when he told him that he wasn't ready.
As Diamondback kept punching him, Cage remembered Stryker's advice during their youth when Cage fought a boxing match. During the match, his elder brother urged him to keep taking blows to tire his opponent out. Following the same advice, Cage let Diamondback punching him to the point that Stryker exhausted himself as well as the energy of his power armor. Encouraged by Claire Temple and the crowd chanting Cage's name, he went forward and started landing harder and harder hits on Diamondback. Eventually, Cage then gave Diamondback a hard uppercut and hit his chin, the only unprotected area on his armor, paralyzing him. Cage emerged victorious.
During the fight, SWAT arrived and was prepared to arrest Cage before Misty Knight intervened. She then went to arrest Mariah Dillard and Diamondback. Cage reunited with Temple and went with Knight back to the precinct.
Back to Prison
An Unexpected Outcome
- "Sometimes backwards. To move forward. Always."
- ―Luke Cage[src]
Back at the precinct, Cage explained to Misty Knight about his activities against Cottonmouth. He explained his motivations and his desire to protect the people of Harlem. Once that was done, Cage was no longer a suspect. He and Claire Temple stayed in the precinct to eat take-aways. He and Temple discussed a little about Cage's future before she suggested that they go out and have 'coffee' once they were out of the precinct.
Cage noticed Mariah Dillard was about to leave so he then approached her and asked her about the files, she denied any knowledge of the files and left. Knight entered and explained that Candace Miller had been killed. Without her, the case against Dillard was unwinnable. Temple blamed herself on Miller's death. As Cage went to comfort her, Marshall Franco and Marshall Johnson entered and called Cage by his real name, Carl Lucas. They have come to arrest Cage for his unlawful escape from Seagate Prison. They explained that Cage's true identity was identified by Dillard during Cage's fight against Diamondback just a few hours earlier.
Tired of running, Cage accepted and surrendered himself to the authorities. Cage apologized to Temple. They shared a kiss. Temple told Cage that she knew a lawyer and she would call him to help Cage. Once out of the building, Cage noticed Dillard talking to reporters.
He went into the car. Marshall Johnson asked if Cage wanted to get something to drink for their long trip. Cage refused and simply urged them to get this over with. Cage told them that he wasn't planning on hibernating. He knew he was innocent and he'll see this sentence through. As they drove, they passed by Pop's Barber Shop. Cage quietly acknowledged that sometimes in order to move forward, one must go backward and face the past. Cage was incarcerated back in Seagate Prison. During his time there, he remained in contact with Temple through letters.
Back to Work
- "Looks like all of your paper-pushing worked. Uncuff the superstar. Get him out of my sight."
- ―Prison Guard[src]
Several months after returning back to Seagate Penitentiary, Cage was freed thanks to the evidence recovered by his friend Bobby Fish and the lawyer, Foggy Nelson. Eager to return home, Cage caught the nearest bus and headed back to New York City. Returning back to Harlem, Cage was greeted by his girlfriend, Claire Temple. They returned home to make up for their lost time. Temple asked what Cage wanted to do now that he was freed. Cage wanted to continue helping the people of Harlem.
Misty Knight arrived to speak with Cage. They catch up and Knight asked for Cage's assistance to investigate what the youth of Harlem had been doing during the night, believing that Black Mariah had a hand in it. The lead was the deceased Candace Miller's brother Cole Miller.
Cage found Miller and began asking him for information. When Cage pressed and offered his help, Miller refused to answer them but hinted that something was going on in the city. Not long after leaving the building, New York experienced an earthquake. Cage arrived just in time to save Dolores Miller from getting injured by a street light.
Investigating White Hat
The day after the earthquake, Cage and Temple spent their time assisting their community. Cage was determined to prevent more youth from getting hurt from their nightly activities. Temple advised him to look for information at 188th Street. Cage went there and found Turk Barrett. He interrogated the man for answers and for Dillard's whereabouts. Barrett explained that Dillard and Shade has disappeared while someone named White Hat had entered the neighborhood. He was the one hiring the youth of Harlem for the night work.
Now with a name and a target, Cage began tracking White Hat. He eventually found him preparing a group of youth for their task. Cage called Knight but hanged up the call when he realized that Miller was among them. Cage followed the van, intending on stopping and saving Miller.
Encountering Danny Rand
Cage followed the van to a workshop. When he reached the place, Cage had soon found Cole Miller getting interrogated and beaten by another man in the alley. Cage moved to save Miller and pushed his attacker off him. Hostility sparked, he fought against Cage.
However, his martial arts couldn't damage Cage's unbreakable skin and Cage easily retaliated his attacks. His opponent only managed to damage Cage with the use of his Iron Fist. Their fight was interrupted by the arrival of cops. Cage managed to escape but was forced to leave Miller behind to get arrested by the authorities.
Returning home to Claire Temple, Cage explained the situation to her as well as his injury from fighting his opponent with the glowing hand. Recognizing the description, Temple arranged for a meeting with her friend, Colleen Wing and her boyfriend Danny Rand. Their meeting at the Chikara Dojo was rocky due to what happened the night before. Cage was further skeptic about the mysticism of Rand's powers and the organisation known as the Hand. Temple pleaded for them both to work together. Initially Cage and Rand managed to find common grounds but their hostility reignited when their conversation turned to Miller. They argued which caused Cage to leave the Dojo.
Cage went to meet Cole Miller to ask him for information. Miller told Cage that they were cleaning bodies and that the organization was tracking their movement. When Cage asked about the Hand, Miller resignedly asked Cage to buy his mother some lottery tickets and to tell her that he was sorry. Cage went and brought the lottery ticket for Dolores. While he was inside her home, Cage went to place the tickets into a box, Cage discovered that Cole had left a roll of money from Midland Circle for his mother. Not long afterward, Dolores received a phone call that Cole died in an accident. Cage consoled the broken mother.
Angered by the death of Miller, Cage headed to Midland Circle for answers. By the time he arrived, he found Danny Rand in a fight and about to be overwhelmed by his opponents. Cage aided Rand and both fighters joined forces to face the Hand.
The fight led to Cage smashing through the wall and entering the hallway. There they were greeted by Daredevil and Cage’s former lover, Jessica Jones. Before they could catch up and escape, more fighters led by the Hand enforcer, Elektra appeared to prevent their escape. Joining forces, the Defenders fought against their attackers. While Daredevil fought against Elektra alone, Cage worked to secure their escape with Jones and Rand. Once they finished their attacks and Daredevil rejoining them, the Defenders made their escape from Midland Circle.
The Defenders found shelter at the restaurant, Royal Dragon. Cage caught up with Jessica Jones, who he had not seen since dealing with Kilgrave. Tension sparked between Cage and Daredevil when the latter refused to cooperate with the team or reveal his identity. Eventually he was convinced to stay. The Defenders proceed to share information with one another and worked on dealing with the Hand.
Not long afterwards, they were interrupted by the arrival of Stick, the last member of the organization known as the Chaste. When the old man aggravated Jones, she left. Cage wasn't able to convince her to stay. Cage remained with the remaining Defenders to listen to the story of the Hand and their organization.
The Defenders were soon discovered by the Hand who have found their location. Their leader Alexandra Reid spoke with the Defenders and tried to convince Rand to hand himself over. When Rand refused, Reid summoned Elektra. Before a fight could start, Jones returned to reunite with the Defenders.
As the Defenders fought against Elektra, they were soon met by more Hand reinforcement. During the battle, White Hat, better known as Sowande, personally fought against Cage. His opponent's fighting style through the use of pressure points managed to be a tough opponent to Cage. He was forced away from the battle when Sowande fought and pressed him outside of the restaurant when a truck ran into him. Cage was separated from the rest of his team.
During his separation, Cage fought another battle against Sowande and his men. Eventually Cage managed to gain the upper hand. He defeated Sowande and his men and proceed to capture the leader. Cage returned back to his team at Chikara Dojo with his prisoner.
Investigating the Hand
Cage and the Defenders found an abandoned warehouse to hold their captive, Sowande. They began interrogating the man for information, but he resisted their attempts. Sowande began threatening the Defenders' loved ones. While Matt Murdock and Jessica Jones went to find their loved ones, Cage was joined by Danny Rand and Colleen Wing to bring Claire Temple to safety. He managed to find Temple and bring her to New York City Police Department for protection.
The Defenders continued with their interrogation on Sowande. Eventually during an attempt to escape with Rand at knife-point, Sowande revealed that they intended to use the Iron Fist to open a sealed door. Stick promptly killed Sowande to prevent his escape.
This news divided the team. The Defenders agreed to hold Rand away, a decision that Rand protested on. A fight ensued between Murdock and Rand. Cage tried to stop Rand to cease the fighting. The fight ended when Rand punched Cage with the Iron Fist which caused a shockwave that knocked all of them down. Jones knocked Rand unconscious.
They tied Rand to a chair and brought him further inside the building. Cage agreed to watch over Rand with Stick while Murdock and Jones began learning about the Hand's plans. Cage remained by Rand's side and continued bonding and calming the youth down.
Eventually Stick decided to kill Rand to prevent him from being used by the Hand. He created a poisoned smoke and tricked Cage to inhale it. Greatly weakened by the poison, Cage was helpless to prevent Stick from attempting to kill Rand. They were soon interrupted by the arrival of Elektra who began fighting Stick. By the time Cage barely got back to his feet, Elektra had killed Stick and defeated Murdock and Jones when they returned. He attempted to fight Elektra, but already severely weakened by the poison, he was defeated by Elektra and knocked unconscious.
Final Battle beneath Midland Circle
Cage managed to recover from his poisoning and found himself back to the 29th Precinct Police Station. They were being held by the New York City Police Department for questioning due to they were found with two corpses. Cage regrouped with Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock, and learned about what they have found out. They agreed that they needed to head back to Midland Circle and end their threat and rescue Danny Rand.
The Defenders escaped from the precinct and began making their way to Midland Circle. They were hunted by the authorities for their actions. But by taking the metro, they dodged their pursuer and reached the location. They headed inside the parking lot where they were confronted by Madame Gao, Murakami and Bakuto. They fought against the three leaders of the Hand. They were assisted by the arrival of Colleen Wing, soon followed by Claire Temple and Misty Knight. The Hand leaders retreated.
They headed into the building and Wing revealed that she brought explosives to level the building. Cage reluctantly agreed to the plan, provided that only the Hand will get hurt by the explosives. Before heading down to the cave beneath the building, Cage promised to Wing that he will save Rand.
The team headed down to the cave using the elevator. Cage and Daredevil prepared an ambush while Jones distracted the Hand. They spring their ambushed and began their assault on their enemy. They managed to rescue Rand and the reunited Defenders stood together as they fought against their opponent. The fight devolved into a fight against Elektra and after a gruelling fight, the Defenders managed to defeat her.
Murdock told the team to head back to the surface while he remained behind to try and save Elektra. As the Defenders began using the elevator to retreat, they were followed by the remnants of the Hand led by Murakami. Cage and Rand managed to defeat the Hand leader and pushed him off the elevator. They managed to escape before the elevator dropped and Cage returned to the surface and reunited with their allies. When authorities entered the building to arrest them, Cage was the one who convinced them about the danger of the situation.
The Defenders managed to leave the building in time for the explosives to level the building. Cage and his team watched as the building crumbled. Cage and his allies went back to the precinct. They all mourned and grieved for Murdock's demise.
Meeting with Foggy Nelson
Days after the events of the battle beneath Midland Circle. Foggy Nelson made sure that no one will be charging Cage and Claire Temple for their actions. Cage looked for Jessica Jones to talk about what happened between them and Matt Murdock's death. He told her that anyone of them could have died beneath the cave, but he was glad that she was not one of them. Cage asked her to keep in touch. Now freed from dealing with his past crimes and his life with Temple secured, Cage returned back to Harlem to continue his life.
- "Everybody talkin' about Luke Cage like he's Jesus. Got magazines callin' him the Bulletproof Black Man with Barack's easy smile, Martin's charm and Malcolm's forthright swagger. Mmm. For the sisters, he's a sumptuous, dark roast to savor. Brown-eyed handsome man of their fantasies. And for the hard rocks, he's the ghetto boogeyman of their nightmares. Luke Cage makes conventional cop work irrelevant. Harlem's worship of Luke Cage has reached Golden Calf proportions. Luke Cage is Soul Brother Number One!"
- ―James Lucas[src]
Cage spent much of his time protecting Harlem from crime. Cage enjoyed a celebrity status in his community. Many people of Harlem admired him and went to him for protection or to take a photo. D.W. sold T-shirts inspired by Cage in Pop's Barber Shop. During the time, someone has started selling drugs imprinted with Cage's name on it. This had the effect of damaging his reputation. Immediately, Cage went to shut these drug labs down but found his task to be ineffective as with every hideout he destroyed, another sprung up to replace it. Adding more to Cage's list of problems, his father, James Lucas, had come to Harlem. Cage continuously avoided his father's attempt to contact him and focused on his war against crimes by targeting the head of the drug organization.
One night, while Cage headed out to patrol the streets, he encountered and learned from Sugar that Black Mariah was planning to go legit and sell her guns to one of the crime bosses in Harlem. That same night, he encountered his father on the streets. An intense argument happened between them with Cage berating his father for ignoring all of his letters during his time in prison or even visit him after the death of his mother. Lucas defended himself that he couldn't meet his son due to his emotional state at the time but he was now ready to talk to him. Cage retorted that he would start talking to him if his father brought his mother back. Cage denounced the name that his father gave him and left.
Sometime after, while Cage and Bobby Fish were in the barber shop, D.W. entered after coming back from a funeral. More people were dying from the heroin with Cage's name. Despite his friend's pleas, Cage didn't have enough leads beside the name El Tercero. With help from D.W. and Fish, they were able to deduce that their target was Arturo Rey III, whose birth name was Gomez. With this new lead, Cage headed to Harlem's Paradise.
Once he arrived at the place, he went to find Dillard. Along the way, he encountered another inmate from his time back in Seagate, Comanche. After knocking his former attacker unconscious, he confronted Dillard. Before he could question his enemy, Dillard revealed that Claire Temple was in Harlem's Paradise and ordered Cage to take his girlfriend home. Unable to risk her safety, Cage complied. As they headed home, the couple had an argument. Temple was in place to take pictures of Cage's target. Cage disapproved of Temple's involvement. After some initial argument, they reconciled and headed home.
Next morning, Cage received a call from Sugar who informed him that Rey had a shipment coming at night. At night, Cage headed to the location and found the truck. As he entered the trailer, it was rigged with explosives that Rey activated from nearby. Cage emerged from the explosion unharmed. Rey pulled out a rifle and shot Cage with Judas Bullet. While Cage felt the bullet drilling into his skin, it turned out that his bulletproof skin has strengthened enough to resist the Judas Bullet. Unharmed, Cage quickly knocked out Rey. Turns out that D.W had followed Cage to the site through the Harlem's Hero App. Before leaving with Rey, Cage had D.W. record his declaration of challenge to anyone in Harlem.
Cage brought Rey to 29th Precinct Police Station for custody. He then went to Harlem's Paradise to confront Mariah. He warned her if she ever said Temple's name again, he will kill her. Cage backed up his threat by declaring that no bullets can kill him and no jails can hold him.
Testing His Powers
Back home, Cage and Claire Temple discussed his skin's new capabilities. They theorized that the acid bath back during at Noah Burstein's home must have enhanced his skin. The couple decided to spend a day testing Cage's abilities. They went to Harlem's Jet's Practice in the city. In view of the people of Harlem and the press, Cage did a series of impressive athletic achievements. Cage spent the rest of the day enjoying his accomplishments and interacting with his fans. Back home, Temple expressed her worries that something might be able to hurt Cage, but he reassured her that nothing can hurt him now.
While at Pop's Barber Shop, Cage received a visit from his father. After another tense conversation, Lucas left after imploring his son to visit him. Soon after, Claire Temple came to the shop, as she advised Cage to go and talk to his father before it was too late; however, Cage was reluctant to the idea. Afterwards, Cage and his allies discussed their plans. With Rey in custody, Mariah Dillard only had two connections to sell her guns to, Cockroach Hamilton and Nigel Garrison. While Cage searched for information about his targets, he was called by Misty Knight, who informed him that Rey had been murdered. Arriving near the crime scene but staying away from the investigation, Cage exchanged information with Knight and learned about the location of Cockroach Hamilton.
Following the address, Cage briefly interacted with Cockroach Hamilton's son before Drea Powell slammed the door at him. Fortunately, her neighbor told Cage where to find him. Arriving at the warehouse, Cage confronted Cockroach, but he managed to escape after blasting him with a shotgun strong enough to dislocate his shoulder. Injured, Cage hurried home where Temple helped with his injury. They then had another argument as Temple confronted Cage about his obsession to fight crimes just like Matt Murdock did and his unsolved issues with his father, resulting in Cage leaving the apartment in anger.
While walking the streets, Cage received a call from Dontrell's neighbor and was informed that he was hurting his family. Immediately, Cage headed back to the place. He broke into the apartment and savagely beat Cockroach within an inch of his life. Seeing Cockroach's family, Cage managed to regain his senses in time before he could kill him.
Cage called Temple for assistance. Despite Cage's attempt to keep this confrontation quiet, they were eventually forced to call an ambulance and the police. Knight arrived and after some debates, she allowed him to leave the scene.
Hunting the Jamaicans
Upon leaving the scene, Cage stayed at Pop's Barber Shop for the night. In the morning, after a brief talk with Bobby Fish before Claire Temple arrived to talk to Cage about what happened last night. She asked why he didn't simply knock Cockroach Hamilton unconscious instead of almost destroying his apartment during the fight. She expressed her worry about Cage's mental state, but he did not stay long to have the talk.
Cage began searching for the last potential buyer, Nigel Garrison. His search brought him to Gwen's. When he arrived at the restaurant, he met Ingrid Mackintosh. He asked her questions about Garrison but she claimed she did not know. As Cage left the restaurant, he noticed one of the guests conspicuously leaving in a hurry. He began following the man and eventually arrived at the Jamaican gang's hideout.
In the hideout, Cage confronted Bushmaster and his gang. At first, Bushmaster offered Cage the opportunity to work together but Cage refused and demanded the Yardies to refuse Mariah Dillard's gun deal. Eventually, this led to a fight between Cage and the Yardies as Cage easily won his fight. Believing that he had intimidated the gang and his message affirmed, Cage left the hideout.
Argument with Claire
Returning home, Cage found Claire Temple waiting for him. They began talking. Cage told his girlfriend that he loves her but she cannot keep him from fighting crimes and he was simply following Pop's wish for him to be a hero. Temple reasoned why preventing him from going back to Seagate Penitentiary again was a bad thing and his recent brutality brings doubt to Cage's understanding of being a hero. Temple further argued his recent actions are scaring the people of Harlem including herself. Cage, however, reasoned that he is a black man and people will always be afraid of him, as he also then retorted that Temple had never felt racism as he did. Cage further argued that his anger is real, but he is willing to use that anger and intimidation to keep people from getting hurt. Temple retorted that this wasn't the real him. Cage fired back by telling her that she could not decide what part of him that she did not like and she must accept all of him.
Temple agreed that sometimes bad people must be punished but that didn't mean that Cage has to enjoy punishing criminals. She also stated that Cage's problem was his refusal to accept responsibility and his war against crimes was simply an excuse to avoid it and running from his problems. Temple admitted she met with Cage's father, James Lucas, during the day and that he was not the enemy that Cage thought he was. Increasingly angered, Cage told her that she had no right to do it. Temple continued to urge Cage to meet with his father and that he must stop using Lucas as a fuel to his anger otherwise he will become just like the monster he thought his father was.
In a moment of rage, Cage angrily punched a hole in Temple's wall. Completely dismayed by his action and the distress it caused his girlfriend, Cage could only wordlessly apologize to Temple as she sadly informed Cage that she needed a break from their relationship. Despite Cage's plead, but his action has invoked bad childhood memories from Temple between her father and mother as Temple tearfully told Cage to leave her apartment.
Completely despondent of what has just transpired at home, Cage somberly walked the streets as he headed to Pop's Barber Shop. He barely noticed Bushmaster approaching him, causing him to get punched in the head. The blow was strong enough to knock Luke down before his enemy declared that Harlem was his. Cage engaged Bushmaster in combat. Unfortunately, Bushmaster's superior fighting style and his enhanced strength and agility managed to defeat Cage and knock him unconscious before Bushmaster left him on the streets as D.W. Griffith took pictures and recorded the event. After a brief moment, Cage woke up and weakly headed back to the barbershop.
Back at Pop's, Cage was found by Bobby Fish, who immediately assisted his friend. They discussed Bushmaster and the threat that he possessed. He stayed at the barbershop to recover from his injuries. In the morning, news of his defeat by Bushmaster has spread across Harlem. On the streets, Cage encountered D.W. selling footage about his fight with Bushmaster. Cage was informed by D.W. that he saw Temple moving things from her apartment. Heading to the apartment, he found it in the middle of moving. Cage was informed that he wasn't welcome in the apartment and received a letter from Temple before leaving.
Hunting down the Stylers
Cage met up with Knight and they both went to search for Bushmaster in the Jamaican hideout. They found the place abandoned and they located the corpse of Nigel. Knight called for Tomas Ciancio to recover the body. Cage learned from Ciancio that the Yardies have renamed themselves as Stylers and the identity of Bushmaster is John McIver. Cage left the crime scene following a clue he found in the warehouse, a small bag with the name Mother's Touch.
Arriving at Mother's Touch, Cage met Tilda Johnson. She noticed that he had a concussion from his fight and gave him medicine to heal him. They talked about Bushmaster and Cage's powers before Cage left the shop.
Coming back to the barbershop, Cage met Fish. He announced that he has some news to Cage. Fish informed him that his daughter was sick from kidney failure and he had decided to head to San Diego to donate his kidney to her and save her life. They both reminisced about Pops and the past. Cage bid his friend a fond farewell. Once Fish has left the barbershop, Cage was visited by a process server of the Superior Court of New York. He had come to inform Cage that Cockroach was suing him.
The next day, Cage and Foggy Nelson discussed the lawsuit with Cockroach, represented by Mariah's personal lawyer, Benjamin Donovan. During the conversation, Cockroach downplayed his crimes and exaggerated Cage's action which caused him to break the boardroom table in anger. Nelson told Cage that they couldn't go to court because they aren't in the best position in the eyes of the court given Cage's history. Nelson explained Donovan has given Cage an ultimatum of paying Cockroach 100,000 Dollars in 72 hours.
Cage began searching for a way to pay Cockroach. He refused to ask for Danny Rand's assistance given that he got himself into this problem. Cage asked for a commercial but got refused due to his defeat by Bushmaster. He was refused from joining a football team because of his powers would make it unfair. Finally, after talking to a producer from a documentary series where he has to go through a series of embarrassing fight against animals, Cage relented and decided to agree on Nelson's suggestion to meet an individual who wanted Cage to make an appearance at his party.
Hired by Piranha
The next day, Cage and Foggy Nelson headed to Uptown Investment to meet Piranha Jones who turned out to be a fan of Cage. During their talk, Cage noticed one of the photos in his office has one with Black Mariah and Jones. Knowing that Jones has a connection to Dillard, Cage decided to sign on the contract although Nelson urged him not to do any vigilantism for one night.
At night, Cage and Nelson headed to the party. To Cage's annoyance, he spent his time taking pictures with guests, accompanying Jones and standing guard for him. Eventually, Cage encountered Shades at the party. Before their conversation escalated, Cage was called to stand in the platform with Jones who wanted to have fun shooting Cage. Despite Cage's plead that the act was dangerous given that the bullet would ricochet and hit one of the guests, Jones insisted. Before he could fire, he was disarmed by another assailant. The party erupted into chaos as Cage fought the attackers. During the attack, Cage noticed Jones getting kidnapped. After he managed to rescue Jones, Cage declared that the price for his hiring just got doubled as he prepared to protect Jones from the oncoming Stylers.
Protecting Piranha Jones
Cage and Jones began rushing through the streets as they tried avoiding the Stylers hunting them. After much difficulty and fighting, Cage managed to bring Jones to an abandoned cinema to hide from the Stylers. While they were hiding, Cage began interrogating Jones for information about his importance to Dillard and Shades. During their talk, Cage learned Jones is single-handedly responsible for Dillard's wealth and thus her access to power. Knowing now how important he is, Cage decided to keep Jones under his watch. Meanwhile, D.W. called Cage to inform him that someone has entered the barbershop.
As they waited until morning, Cage and Jones shared about their pasts and their respective problem with their fathers. Eventually, Cage decided the best course of action is to take Jones to the police. He called Knight to update her about the situation. Unbeknownst to Cage, several Stylers had entered the building and captured Jones. When he was alerted by Jones' cry for help, Cage fought all the Stylers and managed to rescue Piranha.
Knowing he had no other options, Cage brought Piranha to the church and ask his father for help. He asked Lucas to keep watch over Piranha while he goes out to confront Bushmaster. Having snatched a phone from one of the Stylers, Cage called Bushmaster. He challenged him for a fair fight which agreed that if Cage wins, Bushmaster must leave Harlem and Jones. Bushmaster agreed to the challenge.
Meeting at High Bridge at High Noon, Cage met Bushmaster. Before fighting, Cage and Bushmaster conversed about their respective goals. Bushmaster wanted revenge against Mariah Dillard due to past grudges. and Cage had vowed to stop criminals like Bushmaster. Cage refused Bushmaster's offer for an alliance given his crimes. When the time for talk was over, both opponents immediately began fighting at High Bridge.
At first, Bushmaster's superior fighting skills gave him an advantage as his opponent repeatedly land blows on Cage. However, Cage's bulletproof skin, adapting to his opponent's fighting style and landing solid hits on his own, gradually allowed Cage to turn the tide against his opponent. As Bushmaster gets exhausted and injured over the course of the fight, Cage's victory seemed assured.
However, Bushmaster blew poisoned powder at Cage which instantly paralyzed him. Unable to move and at Bushmaster's mercy, his opponent gave his respect to Cage and sincerely wished that circumstances were different. Once that was said, Bushmaster kicked Cage off the bridge and into the river below.
Cage and Knight
- "You're off the reservation again, aren't you?"
"Listen, we do this right, it won't matter."
"You know I've got your back, right? But just so we're clear, when we're out there, what I say goes. I'm not in the market for a, uh, sidekick."
"Who says you're not my sidekick?"
"Me. It's my show."
- ―Luke Cage and Misty Knight[src]
As Cage continued to sink under the water, he saw flashes of his life. He saw his mother and his deceased wife Reva Connors. When he saw a memory of his father, Cage woke up from his unconsciousness and his paralysis gone. Immediately heading to the surface, Cage managed to make his way back to the church before passing out. An hour later, he was told by Lucas that Piranha headed out. Despite Lucas' plead, Cage headed out to continue his work.
Back at the barbershop, Cage joined up with Knight. They both headed out to search for Piranha. They headed out to Irie Taxi Co. to confront the Stylers. Cage and Knight fought the gangs stationed there and managed to learn Piranha's location. Heading toward the address that they have been given, Cage and Knight found the decapitated head of Jones in a fish tank. They called the police about the situation but they were asked to leave the crime scene.
Taking Piranha Jones' past advice about talking to his father to heart, Cage headed back to the church to talk to his father. Cage told his father about his near-death experience in the river and about seeing his mother. He reminisced about the last time he saw his mother and his father at Seagate Penitentiary. He remembered how, despite his mother's illness, she still came to visit him and believed in him. Cage told his father about his belief that his life flashes must be a sign from God that the world may be his problem but it wasn't always his fault.
Both father and son continued their talk, Lucas admitted that he was wrong for blaming Etta's death on him and profoundly apologized to Cage. Before their conversation could continue, they were interrupted by D.W. Griffith who came to warn Cage about the fire at Mariah Dillard's Brownstone.
Hunted by the Stylers
After rescuing Dillard, Cage brought her and Johnson to the precinct for their own protection. While in the precinct, despite Cage's attempts, Dillard refused to share what she knew about Bushmaster. When Knight arrived with the rest of the police, she informed Cage about Ridenhour's murder which she blamed Dillard for.
While staying in the precinct, Cage had a brief talk with Johnson and just like her mother, she refused to share what she knows about Bushmaster. While looking at photos of the crime scene, Cage recognized the other found body as Comanche. He shared this information with Knight who deduced that Comanche must have been Ridenhour's snitch. With her work keeping her busy, Knight asked for Cage's assistance to talk to Johnson about Bushmaster while she focused on Ridenhour's murder.
Cage began talking to Johnson and she told Cage what she knew about Bushmaster's vendetta against her family. Before Cage could learn more, the arrival of Dillard stopped his talk. Dillard remained uncooperative and she kept taunting Cage much to his annoyance and anger. Cage watched as Benjamin Donovan left Dillard's service when he learned about the loss of her wealth. Despite Cage's grievance, he stated that he will protect Dillard until Harlem is safe. While following Dillard out of the precinct, he saved her from an attack by the Stylers. He learned from one of the Stylers that Bushmaster has put out bounties on Dillard, Johnson and Cage himself which also included his loved ones. After informing Nandi Tyler about what happened, Cage left to find and protect his father.
Warning his Father
Arriving at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Cage had pleaded with his father to come with him to a safe place, but Lucas still refused to leave the church when he has a sermon. Lucas told his son that he would have to stay inside of the church to protect him, which Cage reluctantly agreed to. Later during the day as Lucas held his sermon, Cage listened while also keeping watch. Cage's suspicion proved correct when the Stylers had attacked and attempted to kill Lucas. Cage came to his father's defense and fought the Stylers off, before Cage brought his father out of the church.
Heading to Mother's Touch, Cage arrived just in time to assist Misty Knight and Nandi Tyler, as they had fought back against the Stylers, in order to save the lives of Mariah Dillard and Tilda Johnson. Cage knew that the Stylers would not stop hunting them, as Cage then asked Knight to call Danny Rand and ask for a favor.
Hiding in Rand Enterprises
Following Cage's request, Danny Rand had arranged for one of his research facilities to be used as a safe house to protect Cage and his allies. Despite his best attempt to prevent hostility, tensions were high between Misty Knight and Mariah Dillard, as Cage informed them that they will be staying at the facility until the next morning.
While they waited, Cage and Knight talked to Dillard, as he informed her that she sold Bushmaster her Hammer Industries guns, which meant if Bushmaster gets taken down so will Dillard unless she cooperates. Dillard informed them that in return her charging Bushmaster she must receive immunity for her gun deal. Despite Cage's reluctance and Knight's protest, he agreed to the deal. During a private talk to Knight, Cage told her that their options were limited and they needed to take down Bushmaster before he does more harm to Harlem. Knight then headed off back to the 29th Precinct Police Station, while Cage remained to keep watch over their charges.
Father and Son Time
While they waited, Cage had a talk with his father. As father and son reconnected, the elder Lucas told his son about the responsibility of his powers and the burden of being a hero. Following his conversation with his father, Cage approached Tilda Johnson about Bushmaster again and she agreed to tell everything she knows about Bushmaster's power and Nightshades, if Cage told her everything he knew about Mariah Dillard, which he agreed to.
- "After all she's done, all of the pain she's caused, the misery, the death. Why shouldn't I throw her through that window and give Bushmaster exactly what he wants. Tell me Mariah, what would you do if the roles were reversed?"
"I would have thrown your ass to those dogs the minute they started barking."
- ―Luke Cage and Mariah Dillard[src]
Eventually, Misty Knight returned from the 29th Precinct Police Station with the legal papers for Mariah Dillard. After she signed, Knight informed Priscilla Ridley to apprehend Bushmaster in Harlem's Paradise. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, Bushmaster and his gangs were gone. Not long after, the Stylers led by Bushmaster arrived at the Rand Enterprises Research Facility. While they hid, Bushmaster loudly informed Cage that he only wanted Dillard and he was willing to allow Cage and the rest of his allies to leave. While tempted by the offer, Cage decided to face Bushmaster and protect Dillard.
As the Stylers attacked the facility, Cage fought Bushmaster outside the facility. After disposing of his men, Cage entered another fight against his adversary. Having now experienced his opponent's fighting style and knowing his tricks, Cage was prepared as he fought him. He skillfully avoided and blocked many of the hits and even prevented another poisoned powder. After an intense fight, Cage successfully defeating his opponent and knocked him unconscious to be arrested.
Forgiving his Father
After the attack, Cage checked on his father, as Lucas revealed that he came to Harlem to reconnect with Cage. While it did not go as planned, they did reconcile. When Lucas asked for Cage to return home to Georgia with him, Cage told his father that his work in Harlem was not done. The elder Lucas warned his son not to let his calling become a curse that corrupts him. His father admitted that he has never been more proud of his son and affirmed that he loves him. Fully reconciled, both father and son left the scene to find a place to eat.
Meeting an Old Friend
Power Man and Iron Fist
The day after Cage's battle against Bushmaster, under the request of Claire Temple, he is visited by Danny Rand. Cage and D.W. Griffith welcomed Rand with Griffith welcomes Danny and offers a hand, as Rand gives him a high five, Griffith was telling him about offering money for his merchandising.
Cage asked Rand how he found him to which he replied with following him through Harlem's Hero app. Rand offered his assistance in his quest to stop Bushmaster. Cage declined his help but Rand insisted into helping him. Griffith appreciated his confidence and Cage assured him that was the reason he is called the Immortal Iron Fist. Rand told Griffith about his adventure into getting his title as the Fist when he fought Shou-Lao. Griffith was surprised that he fought Bruce Lee, however, Rand quickly corrected him by saying it was a real dragon but was interrupted by Cage.
Cage insisted if Rand will stay and help him, he'll must play by his rules. Rand politely told Cage that he'll do just that with no problem as he likes to put up a good fight. After Rand put up a handshake, the two Defenders agreed to work together. Through meditation, Rand and Cage focused on the idea to take down Bushmaster by using silence. Cage wondered if it would have solved the problem. Rand told Cage that while he might be invulnerable, Bushmaster doesn't seem to have the same level of endurance as Cage and thus he must have been injured and seek out for medical aid.
Cage has the idea to get to place where the Bushmaster has been getting Nightshade for his strength. Rand agreed with his idea and they proceeded to move out of the barber shop and into their target's current location. Rand and Cage walked into the streets of Harlem, Cage comments on how Rand has changed. Rand explains that it all has to do with staying still, Cage only excepts that the only thing he does is getting things done.
Agreeing with Danny Rand's theory and knowing that their adversary must have sought someone unregistered, Cage brought him to Mother's Touch. When they arrived at the building, they found it wrecked and Tilda Johnson missing. Rand looked over the place and began discussing about the Chronic 2001, his favorite song, while Cage wondered why was that his favorite, to which expressed that he downloaded it while boarding on the Rand Enterprises Private Jet. Rand looked over to a poster to which reminded him of the teachings of self balance from the mind of the person. As they searched for clues, Rand theorized that since Bushmaster's powers come from Nightshade, he must be addicted to it. The two teammates concluded that Bushmaster must have sought for a way to keep growing more nightshades in order to maintain his powers and addiction. They both headed to Harlem's Paradise to search for Johnson's whereabouts.
Questioning Mariah Dillard
Cage and Danny Rand then arrived at Harlem's Paradise in order to personally question Mariah Dillard. While Rand was slightly worried about Dillard's goons, Cage had assured that they would not dare to harm him due to his status as a billionaire from Rand Enterprises. Although Rand had argued that he no longer has kind of cash lying around him anymore and only resorted in his business, Cage had told him that it did not matter as long as he had money, it only gets him respect and not just power. As they looked around, Cage noticed that Sugar was working for the Stokes Crime Family again, with Sugar noting that this was due to his car getting damaged by Cage. Dillard and Shades then entered the room and looked both of them down, as Dillard wondered why Cage decided to come back to Harlem's Paradise, while Cage questioned Dillard about Tilda Johnson, and found no answer. Dillard then noticed Rand and offered him a drink, although Rand rejected her offer. Cage proceeded to insist that if Dillard saw Johnson, she better care for her. During their talk, Rand noticed Cage's lack of focus and once they headed out, he suggested a place to visit.
Learning About Stillness
Arriving at the location, Cage and Danny Rand had then stood near a balcony. Rand talks about how his father and him going to Columbia University and how beautiful it was. Rand then spoke about how still it was, to come up in Columbia with Cage. Rand attack Cage with a strike and stood his ground, Rand was impressed by how calm he took the hit. Cage walked away and expresses that he did not have any time to spar with him.
Rand jumped in front of him and told him that he does in fact have the time to do this. They had a brief spar and Rand proved his point when Cage's anger made him unfocused and keeping his perspective narrowed. Rand expresses that in order to focus on the job in hand, he must stand still and try to find a perfect plan to figure out in the most logical way. They needed to find someone who knows what was happening in the streets, someone who was a rat. Knowing the right person to talk to, Cage and Rand searched for Turk Barrett.
Questioning Turk Barrett
After some difficulty finding him, Cage and Danny Rand eventually managed to locate Turk Barrett at his Pot Shop. Rand had let Cage confront Turk about how he has gotten into any criminal activities to which he replied that he had not been in for awhile. Barrett noticed Rand and introduced himself, however, Barrett already knows about him since Madame Gao's men was reportedly scared off from Barrett's business. Cage wonders if he notices any new drug that has ever been seen, but Barrett decided not to tell him. Rand notices a dragon pipe that is used to smoke marijuana and expresses that he likes it. Cage asked if he smoke, but Turk interrupts him with asking about the certain drug he's talking about.
Cage proceeded to tell him where it is and broke his products. Barrett confesses that a certain activities are happening at an abandon warehouse near Rucker Park. Rand and Cage headed to the warehouse, Barrett angrily told that Cage if he could pay for damages for the broken bong, Cage replied to bill him. Barrett commented how Rand learned how to fight, complimenting the aura he uses. Rand almost replied to his question but Cage interrupted and called Rand to come with him.
As Bushmaster's men arrived at the warehouse in a van and brought out the supplies for the plant they were about to make. Cage and Iron Fist looked over the men at a distance. Iron Fist proceeded to ask Cage about being calm and focused but Cage replied that he is already focused. The group of men were in the warehouse with armed weapons as the Nightshade was ready to be shipped. A group of men noticed noises coming out of the door. As the noises stop, Iron Fist uses his Chi to punch open the steel door and enter the warehouse ready to fight alongside with Cage.
Cage and Iron Fist found heavy resistance amongst the group of men and proceeded to take them down and splitting up. Fighting together, both Defenders then managed to defeat all of Bushmaster's men in the side-by-side hallways and striking each one. As they reach each other again, some of Bushmaster's men began to outmatch them by surrounding Cage and Iron Fist. When Cage had the idea of patty-cake, Iron Fist questioned what he meant, as Cage explained by telling to fire up his fist and hit his hands. Iron Fist began to summon his chi and hit Cage's hands, the force blast each one of Bushmaster's men in one blow.
Cage and Iron Fist noticed two men confronting them and one of them pulled out a rocket launcher. Cage had an idea of using Iron Fist to knock both of them out as Iron Fist proceeded to be picked up and thrown while using his chi to knock out both of them. Successfully taken down all Bushmaster's men, Cage and Iron Fist had located the drug through the door. Cage was willingly about to open with his fist, but Iron Fist suggested to keep himself still. Cage agreed and opens the door properly. Cage and Iron Fist then found a purple-lit house and proceeded walk towards it and found an abundance of plants growing.
Cage asked one of the men what are they trying to do with the plants that they are growing until the man proceeded to answer his question and Iron Fist picked up one of the plants and touched them to see if they died out. The man explained that in order to make the plant grow in needed to be planted in Jamaican soil or sunlight to have full effect or else it withers. Cage concluded that what they were doing would not work as long and preceded to let go of the man and told him run. Iron Fist left the dying plant on soil it on and said that they should move and made the call for investigation. Cage and Iron Fist finished their task by burning down the building and the plants. Iron Fist commented on how Cage held his ground and agreed that money is power as Cage replied that real power come from somewhere else.
Cage and Danny Rand went to Genghis Connie's Too to eat. Connie Lin went to check up on Cage and see if he is any hungry as he is been eating for too long. Rand then asked for more food and asks for more mu shu pork, Lin then proceeded with the order. After Lin offers a place to stay at the restaurant, Cage refused and noticed Rand is making a face that he wants to talk, but Rand would rather eat and rest. As they relaxed, they both discussed what happened during the day and about being a hero.
Rand proposed the idea of being a hero is follow the sirens instead of running away from them to which Cage replied that maybe the sirens are different from what he is looking for. Rand ponders on the idea that he focus on a different parts of the city as he did for Harlem. As Cage began to look down upon himself, Rand told Cage that Harlem would stand forever as he would, too. Rand admitted that Claire Temple was asked to look after Cage. Cage asked why did she call Rand and he replied by making him sure that doesn't get too angry and how she is worried about him. He assured his friend that he was not alone in his struggle to defend New York City, as he got Misty Knight as well as Jessica Jones, and Temple to talk to about his inner self into protecting the city.
Cage then told Rand that he does not need anyone as somethings are better to figure out in your own. Rand began to realize that Cage sounded like him, calling himself stubborn. Cage replied that he is focused and the two began to share a laugh. Cage began to express his issue with Rand, telling him that fighting a dragon was only metaphorical and not real. Rand retorted his statement and told that if he could believe that he is bulletproof and his hand glows then surely he would believe in a dragon. Rand promises Cage that one day he would meet Shou-Lao back at K'un-Lun.
Stopping Mariah's Reign
A Temporary Truce
Not long after hanging out with Danny Rand, Cage was informed of the massacre that took place in Gwen's. Heading to the scene, Cage looked upon the victims and regretted that he saved Mariah Dillard, now using her maiden name, from burning to death. As he stayed at the crime scene, Cage noticed a blood trail. He and Misty Knight deduced that there must be a survivor of the massacre. Returning back to the precinct, Cage and Knight identified the survivor as Ingrid Mackintosh. Knight advised Cage to search information from the three other crime families first.
After violently interrogating all three crime families, Cage learned that they did not have anything to do with the massacre. Cage began searching for Mackintosh. Eventually, he managed to locate her at one of the clinics. After dealing with Tony and Ricky who were trying to find her, Cage talked to Mackintosh and convinced her to follow him. As they attempted to leave, Cage briefly lost sight of Mackintosh but managed to find her unharmed after she was spared by Shades. Despite Cage's plead, he was unable to convince Mackintosh to tell the New York City Police Department about what happened as she did not want to relieve the massacre. Sympathizing with her plight, he agreed to protect her. While protecting her, Cage learned more of Bushmaster's history.
Cage managed to bring Mackintosh to the morgue where her husband Anansi was located. They found John McIver already there. Mackintosh prevented any hostility from sparking and urged them to talk while she mourned for her husband. McIver expressed his gratitude to Cage for protecting his aunt. Cage urged McIver to walk away but he refused. Cage warned McIver that if he goes after Dillard, he will be there which McIver didn't doubt. Before leaving to comfort his aunt, McIver mused that they could have been friends and he voiced that he did not look forward to another conflict with Cage.
As Cage left the morgue to head back home, he was followed by Sugar. He informed Cage that he no longer worked for Stokes and they needed to get the situation under control. He further told Cage that Harlem did not need a sheriff anymore, it needed a king. Cage agreed to the idea and Sugar joined Cage.
Setting the Stage
Not long after, trouble happened in Harlem when drugs became a problem again. Cage was informed Aisha Axton about the latest accident with drugs. Axton informed Cage that the drugs were named after Bushmaster. Having experienced a similar situation in the past, Cage believed that Mariah Dillard must be involved with the drugs. Through his connections, Sugar informed Cage that Dillard was in league with the Yangsi Gonshi. Cage asked him to find out where the Yangsi Gonshi stored the drugs.
Guided by the location from Sugar, Cage headed toward the Warehouse where the Yangsi Gonshi stored their drugs. Once he arrived, he found Bushmaster confronting Hai-Qing Yang. With their goals aligned for once, both Cage and Bushmaster joined forces as they confronted the Yangsi Gonshi. As they fought through multiple attackers, Cage made sure that his temporary ally did not kill any of them, blocking Bushmaster's strikes when he had attempted to use a hatchet against the criminals. Once their opponents have been defeated, their temporary alliance quickly deteriorated when Cage was forced to prevent Bushmaster from destroying the warehouse with his Hammer Industries Explosive Charges. After dealing with the Yangsi Gonshi, Cage headed to Harlem's Paradise to confront Dillard about the drugs.
Returning back to the barbershop and regroup with his allies, Cage learned that Dillard had planned for a concert to happen in Harlem's Paradise. Cage deduced that Dillard intentionally planned the concern to bait Bushmaster to attack, forcing Cage to protect her in order to make sure no people got hurt in the crossfire. Cage expressed his exhaustion about his work to his allies and the constant dilemma he is forced to deal with when it comes to Black Mariah.
As the night drew closer to the concert, Cage headed to Harlem's Paradise to protect Dillard and face Bushmaster again.
Arriving at Harlem's Paradise, Cage found the place filled with people just like Mariah Dillard planned. Cage intermingled with the crowd as he watched out for Bushmaster. He briefly caught eyes with Dillard who taunted him for coming to her aid. Cage spotted Misty Knight in the club. He was informed that Shades has given up Dillard.
Not long after, Bushmaster arrived at the club and began attacking Dillard's guards. Immediately, Cage went off to face him. Managing to catch up to him, Cage fought against Bushmaster once again. Unfortunately, this time, Cage found his opponent to be a far more dangerous foe when he managed to make Cage bleed after a few hits. Despite assistance from Knight, they both found themselves outmatched by Bushmaster. Their fight brought them to the office and Cage found himself outmatched by his enemy's sudden increase in strength. After getting pushed off the office window, Cage recovered and regrouped with Knight before pursuing their opponent.
Cage and Knight managed to reach Bushmaster in Stokes' basement shelter. Another intense fight ensued as Cage, assisted by Knight and Shades, battled against Bushmaster. The fight proved difficult as Cage and his allies were constantly forced down or knocked down by Bushmaster. Eventually, Cage managed to find an opening and began landing punches on Bushmaster's head which knocked him down. Even then, Cage was forced to attempt a sleeper hold on his opponent to bring him down. Despite suffering internal injuries by the repeating hits from Bushmaster during his attempt to break free, Cage endured and kept holding him.
Dillard urged Cage to kill Bushmaster. Despite the temptation, Knight managed to convince Cage not to go through with it. Bushmaster used the distraction to break free from his grasp and made his escape. Although their opponent escaped, Shades managed to snatch the Stokes' Revolver that proved evident of Dillard's crimes. Cage watched as the New York City Police Department arrested Dillard.
Chaos in Harlem
Following her arrest, Mariah Dillard was put on trial for her crimes and her bail was denied, as judge Amanda Garmon ordered that she be sent into Ryker's Island. During the trial, Dillard warned the audience and the court that there was a storm coming to Harlem now that she was imprisoned. Dillard claimed that the Stokes Crime Family has acted as a barrier to keep other powerful criminals from Harlem. With her gone, they will threaten Harlem.
Dillard's warning proved correct, as the fall of Black Mariah and no central leadership for the gangs in Harlem, the community became a territory for the other powerful crime families of New York City to conquer and fight over. Gang violence and murders became rampant. Cage and Misty Knight found themselves dealing with a Harlem in chaos. Cage lamented the situation has gotten worse with Dillard imprisoned.
While Cage had attempted to figure on who was responsible for all of the attacks, with the help of Sugar and D.W. Griffith, they were then interrupted by a visit from Shades. Despite the tension, Shades had explained that Rosalie Carbone was responsible for the current situation in Harlem and advised Cage to take control of Harlem in order to protect it.
Cage was informed by Sugar that he had managed to learn about Rosalie Carbone's current location and informed Cage. He arrived to Carbone's Office where he was confronted by Carbone Crime Family members. Cage made his way through the office, taking down all criminals on his way, before he reached to Carbone. Cage demanded that Carbone stays out of Harlem, but she answered that she was born in Harlem and had a plans for it. When she threatened that Cage could not kill her as that would make her associates from the Russian Mafia attack schools and playgrounds in retribution for her death, Cage retaliated by threatening to attack her trucks and warehouses. Relenting, Carbone asked for Cage's demands. He stated where Carbone was not allowed to go to in Harlem and left, once the negotiation was dealt with.
Conversation with Sugar
Later, Cage was informed by Sugar that former members of the Stokes Crime Family have been found murdered. Cage attempted to ask Misty Knight for clearance to see Mariah Dillard and talk to her. When she refused, Cage called Foggy Nelson and asked him for the personal phone number of Benjamin Donovan. With Nelson's help, Cage managed to talk to Donovan and negotiate a meeting with Dillard.
Cage headed to Ryker's Island to talk to Mariah Dillard and he informed her that he has talked to Rosalie Carbone and kept Harlem safe from her. Cage demanded Dillard to stop undermining the peace that he brokered. Meanwhile, Dillard kept taunting Cage, stating that Cage was responsible for making her who she was. She also told Cage that she was happy that Harlem's new "king" turned out to be him.