Characters Appearing: Bogeyman, Coldfire, Contract, Dakota North, James Lucas (Geary), Karl Malus, Luke Cage, Manslaughter, Randolph Creed, Rick Mason (Agent), Tinkerer
Issue(s): Cage #14
I've said before about how one thing i like about Marc McLaurin's Cage run is his use of continuity. At this point i'm just pausing to say i think it's interesting how Dakota North became such a major character in this series.
To recap, the story is that the Corporation has recruited Luke Cage's brother, James Lucas Jr., who holds a grudge against Luke, blaming him for the death of their mother. And he's helped the Corporation stealth-kidnap their father, James Lucas Sr., who thinks that Luke is dead.
James Sr. is starting to realize that the Corporation isn't on the up and up.
The Corporation employs a number of super-powered mercenaries. One of them is Manslaughter, who knocks out the father when he tries to leave.
There's no explanation for why Manslaughter is back to being a bad guy. I mean, it's not exactly a shocking turn of events. But between this and Roy Thomas' screw-up regarding Morgana Blessing at the start of his Doctor Strange run, it feels like no one at Marvel read Peter Gillis' Doctor Strange issues.
James Jr. has been turned into a super-villain, Coldfire. The twist regarding his powers is that his super-powered "body" is separate from his real one. We see him in this scene testing his abilities against two more Corporation agents, Troubleshooter and Contract.
He "passes" the test (looks more like he totally routed the other two villains), and he's welcomed into the Corporations' Assassin Nation.
Luke and Dakota are working with the Tinkerer, because the Corporation have also captured the Tinkerer's son, Rick Mason aka the Agent.
Dakota apparently has Cobra-level contortionist abilities.
After Dakota and Luke split up, the Tinkerer tries to get Luke to agree that rescuing Rick takes priority over rescuing Luke's father. Luke doesn't agree, and the Tinkerer betrays Luke, causing a trap that he was supposed to be disabling to activate. It's a weird move (and not only because Luke will obviously survive the trap). Either Luke helps and maybe prioritizes his father, or he doesn't help at all and you're stuck with just Dakota helping you. I'd rather have Luke on my side, even if i didn't have his full attention. You'd think the Tinkerer has had enough experience dealing with temperamental super-villains that he could manage Luke giving his father a higher priority while agreeing to rescue both.
Meanwhile, the Agent is managing to escape on his own anyway.
The Agent manages to take out Manslaughter (no fight; he hits him from behind) and rescue Luke's father. Luke deals with Troubleshooter and Contract with relative ease. And Coldfire is finding it harder and harder to get back into his own body after using his powers, but he wakes up from the test session and hears that Luke is in the compound, so he goes back into action.
Their fight is interrupted by a message from the Tinkerer, who alerts them to the fact that both their dad and Rick are being held hostage by Troubleshooter and Contract. They put aside their differences to rescue their father.
In response, the Corporation's scientist Karl Malus terminates Coldfire's real body.
It's also said that Luke has made a permanent enemy of the Corporation.
But Luke reconciles with his father.
Meanwhile, an inky shadow menaces Chicago.
At the time of writing, i've just recently watched the first season of the Netflix Cage series. That story did not go with the comics canon when it comes to Cage's father and brother (i'm avoiding spoilers since not everyone binge watches). As far as this goes, we have more to see regarding the father, but the situation with the brother feels unresolved; they team-ed up to save their father but didn't really get to address what the problem was between them.
Beyond that, the art is a mess and the story is generic, but McLaurin is definitely from the Mark Gruenwald school of writing, which has its benefits. It's fun to have a story featuring the Tinkerer, the Corporation, The Agent, Manslaughter, etc.. As i've said before, it's too bad the actual writing isn't better.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: As noted in the last entry's Considerations, i'm allowing a lot of time between last issue and this one in order to let this book catch up to publication date. I'm assuming that a lot of time was necessary to research and locate the Corporations' headquarters. The entry still isn't quite at publication date because Cage next appears in the For Love Nor Money crossover which needs to be pushed back in publication time due to complications around Hellstrom and Hellfire (see Hellstorm #1's considerations for more).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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