Characters Appearing: Analisa Medina, Bogeyman, Dakota North, Daryl 'Troop' Andrews, Dred, Human Torch, James Lucas (Geary), Luke Cage, Micky Hamilton, Randolph Creed, Thing
Issue(s): Cage #18, Cage #19, Cage #20
These are the final issues of the Cage series.
Luke Cage is hired by a group of homeless people that have been terrorized by the shadowy creature that we've seen in recent issues. The creature turns out to be the Bogeyman, the Power Pack villain. He'd somehow gotten himself embedded in a haunted ring that was found by city councilman Randolph Creed, who already had a dislike of the homeless (this sequence comes from a little later in the story, when this is all revealed).
Luke confronts Creed/Bogeyman...
...and seemingly defeats him, but is in fact possessed by the Bogeyman instead.
Cage goes on a rampage.
And when the police use flamethrowers against him, it causes the Bogeyman to flee his body. The Bogeyman fears fire because it reminds him of his time spent in Hell (really Limbo).
Cage winds up passing out, long enough for Dakota North to drive him to New York to see the Fantastic Four.
The Thing and Bogeycage fight for a while, with the Thing not really understanding that Cage is possessed and the Bogeyman thinking that he might rather be controlling the Thing.
But it's the arrival of the Human Torch, with his flames, that turns the tide.
The Human Torch goes "semi-nova", driving out the Bogeyman and melting the ring that he possesses. Cage makes sure to walk into the center of the Torch's blast.
Cage falls into the water and doesn't resurface. He's faking his death, even in front of his Fantastic friends, since he's in trouble for the rampage he went on in Chicago. But Dakota knows that he's alive.
In a subplot scene, a mysterious someone arranges so that the Chicago Spectator won't do any more exposes on Cage. It was known by issue #18 that the Cage series was ending (issue #18 is billed as "the beginning of the end"), so it's a little surprising to see this little mystery getting set up.
Cage's future appearances don't involve the Spectator. And Dakota North won't appear again until 2001.
I didn't read this series in realtime, and the few scattered issues i picked up as back issues over the years (e.g. the Hulk guest-appearance) didn't make me regret that. But as i was working on this project, i kept seeing that some minor characters had their next appearances in this series: Dakota North, Rick Mason, various Power Pack characters, etc.. That plus the increased profile of Luke Cage in recent years made me look forward to getting to these issues. I do think the use of Dakota North was a high point, but in general the use of the obscure characters felt less natural than i'd hoped for, and this series was kind of disappointing. The premise - Cage's working relationship with the Chicago Spectator - isn't a bad one, but the series didn't really do much with that. One thing i've been thinking about lately - the Darkhold series is another that brings it to mind - is that books are often established with an interesting premise, but the premise is never really used all that much (it's the same problem as when team books decide to go "proactive"). Cage working for a newspaper, getting various assignments that could have related to interesting things going in in Chicago, and having to balance the work he wanted to do with the sensationalism required by the paper -- that could have led to a lot of smart stories. But instead everything in this book was always an emergency and many of the stories were about people with vendettas specifically against Cage, which trumped the newspaper premise. Maybe it's a symptom of the 90s, where everything had to be amped up to eleven. But a lot of books would have been better served if the creative teams had just calmed down and done some low key character driven stuff.
In any event, regardless of that, the stories just weren't very good, and neither was the art.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Last issue was an Infinity Crusade tie-in, but a subplot had Micky Hamilton takes some pictures that he's developing at the start of this arc. So this shouldn't begin too long after that.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The Marvel Comics Presents story was published before this. The reason the Marvel Chronology Project had no qualms about placing it after was that during Cage's next appearance in Secret Defenders 15-17, he's been hired to guard a museum, which makes no sense if he's faked his death and on the run. So clearly, Cage's fake death had to be very temporary.
Posted by: Michael | February 15, 2017 8:20 PM
The colors are terrible, too much brown and orange.
Posted by: Lucas | February 16, 2017 1:31 PM
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