The lonely off panel death of Luke Cage

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2971420 luke cage full artwork The lonely off panel death of Luke Cage
At C2E2 the sad, event-born death of longtime Marvel character Luke Cage was reported on by Patrick Reed and worth quoting at length:

The audience began with some lightweight questions about Deadpool appearing in Thunderbolts, the new role of The Sentry / The Void in the Marvel Universe, and the relationship between The Scarlet Witch and Rogue.  Then, a fan named Andre Cottrell got up and asked about Luke Cage’s role in Age Of Ultron, and for clarification as to whether or not he had been killed off-panel.  Tom Brevoort answered that yes, he was dead.  The exchange intensified when Cottrell inquired why the major black character was cheated out of getting a decent death scene, when every other character got a dramatic exit.  (Cage survives a nuclear strike in Age Of Ultron #4, and then disappears from the action.  His demise is acknowledged by Emma Frost in the closing pages of the issue.)

The panelists’ reactions made it clear that this detail wasn’t something they’d thought about from this perspective (Brevoort commenting that he found it to be an emotionally affecting moment), and the discomfort led from some half-hearted jokes into a brief exchange about diversity and how Brevoort sees the Marvel Universe expanding to be “more representative of the audience”.

(In the days since, I’ve been reading coverage of the panel, and I find it particularly troubling how different news sources have either ignored this part of the Q&A, or mentioned it in a rather disingenuous way: Comic Book Resources describes the exchange as “lively and light-hearted”, Newsarama brushes it off by quoting Brevoort’s joke about doing better “the next time we kill Luke Cage”.  I thought that the Marvel staffers onstage were clearly thrown off-balance by the question, but dealt with it in an up-front and sincere way; quoting only their jokes makes them appear less sensitive than they actually were, and reflects the media’s disinterest in continuing this conversation.)


While it’s hard to know how much of this is killing of black characters (Giant Man/Goliath died in Civil War, although his consciousness drifts around ripe for reincarnation) and killing of characters who don’t have movie deals in the works, Sweet Christmas….you deserved better than that for now, Luke Cage. But rest assured, as soon as a bankable African American star shows up who wants to play you…well, maybe your consciousness will be found floating around out there as well.
Wait, I’m told this is all a hoax and an imaginary story so yay it’s only an awkward panel moment.

Comments

  1. blacaucasian says:

    I’ve seen none of the outrage over this that was caused over John Stewart, someone who wasn’t even killed in the Green Lantern books.

    Interesting.

  2. I took note of this at the time, but don’t blow this up too huge: AoU isn’t the Marvel U’s new status quo.

  3. It’s an alternate timeline. When this is all done, Luke Cage will be alive and waiting for Bendis’s Heroes for Hire relaunch he teed up at the end of Avengers.

    Was his off-panel death a mistake? Yes. But is it the end? Hardly.

  4. On the contrary showing that it took a nuclear explosion to kill him was impressive to me.

  5. Greg N says:

    But Age of Ultron isn’t set in the Marvel U. She-Hulk was horribly shot in the head but she is still in FF because it’s a whole different universe. Trust me if Age of Ultron was in the proper MU I would have a serious rage going considering they killed Hank Pym and it was tasteless

  6. Greg N says:

    Also Bendis would never kill off the real Luke Cage even for a million years he LOVES him.

    I was more offended that no one mentioned She Hulk’s death in the comic, at least Cage got people mourning him.

  7. Carter says:

    I think the questioner had a completely valid point but the impact of the death, no matter how it was presented, is pretty nullified by the fact that it will be reset by the end of the event. Cage will have been not-killed in the same way New York and the world will have been not-destroyed. The alt-timeline does not have the same impact as “normal” 616 continuity.

    If Cage had been killed in the normal course of events, it would have been a BFD. Cage is a pretty major player, thanks to Bendis.

    Yes, I acknowledge that no one stays dead in any continuity. But there are stories and there are STORIES.

  8. Yes, clearly Bendis has never respected Cage and purposely gave him a significant role in the event just so that his death scene would disappoint all the more.

    Also, is anyone able to type “death” with a straight face when posting about any of the Age of Ultron stuff? I’m having difficulty.

  9. Greg N says:

    Sorry to keep posting but Age of Ultron has just been about shocking deaths like any alternate timeline story, you never get moments of a funeral or anything

  10. Totally agree with Breevort — whether continuity or not, Bendis captured a really horrible moment with a story beat that made it even more emotional. In fact, this was a death scene you could only really do with superpowers, so not sure it’s even been done before. I will argue against Giant-Man’s lame death all day, but this, to me, was way different. Loving Age of Ultron — great stuff/hoping for a great ending.

  11. awesomedude says:

    But it’s an alternate timeline/universe – he’s not really dead in standard core 616. Could it be that it didn’t make news becuase it was obviously non-canon rather than it didn’t make news cause it was racially charged?

  12. That was a very powerful and moving death scene – it also played to the notion that the characters themselves don’t know what has happened. Anyone making a fuss over this is just trolling.

  13. Lots of people died off-screen in AoU. The person who asked this question at the panel seems to be baiting the panelists, looking for controversy where there wasn’t any.

    Also, like everyone else said, it didn’t really happen.

  14. Synsidar says:

    I’ve skipped the entire event, and haven’t seen any reason to think I’m missing anything. Complaints about the absence of any plot progression in the first several issues make me think of a two-hour disaster movie in which the first 70, 75 minutes or so are devoted to average people reacting to the (imminent) disaster and feature a lot of emotional moments. All well and good, but what about the disaster? If it’s so easy to deal with that it’s not worthy of space, then why do the story? Something touted as a menace should actually be menacing.

    SRS

  15. John Warren says:

    Geez. Your headline tricked me into thinking that Cage had died in some other comic that I haven’t read yet.

    He’s not dead. This is a non-story.

  16. If this is supposed to be a alternative timeline story – then what is going on with Avengers: AI? Doesn’t that take place immediately after this series ends?

    Now I’m freakin’ confused – I thought I knew all this Marvel Now! Avengers continuity like the back of my hand.

    ~

    Coat

  17. Dan Ahn says:

    1-It’s an alternate timeline.

    2-If Luke Cage was killed on panel, 80% of these same people would cry “racism” over that. Anything involving any minority is “racism” to them. Kill someone off-panel? They didn’t get a good enough death. Kill someone on-panel? Oh my god, you killed a minority! Wisely DON’T follow through and kill a minority character (as in the case of DC and John Stewart)? Then the complainers complain that the company is totally racist for even CONSIDERING the idea.

    I agree that minority characters haven’t been used as well as they could be, but complaining about Luke Cage’s non-death in some sort of almost purposely underwhelming Bendis one-off “event” that doesn’t count for anything? People who are upset about this deserve to live with the eternally indignant paranoid mindset they seem to have committed to beyond any reason.

  18. Synsidar says:

    If this is supposed to be a alternative timeline story – then what is going on with Avengers: AI?

    It’s not an alternate-timeline story. Bendis and associates (e.g., Heinberg in CHILDREN’S CRUSADE) only do single-timeline stories, with all the paradoxes and the associated storytelling problems that one could wish for, or dread. One modern perspective is that, since single-timeline stories are impossible, any time travel story involving changes in the past or future takes place in an alternate timeline, even if the writer claims differently. But that leads to at least one person being confused.

    SRS

  19. Whatever says:

    I am not sure what is going on with AOU. It is an enjoyable read. I cannot understand how Peter is still apparently Spider-Man but more importantly how is Luke Cage not in the Avengers movie franchise, seriously how? He does not even need a costume, is fantastic and instant diversity. Scarlet Witch and Quick Silver? No, no Luke Cage.

  20. Leo C. says:

    I’m surprised not a soul talked about Black Panther’s death scene…

  21. todd latores says:

    You win a “no prize”

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