Why MIGHTY AVENGERS was the Right Place for LUKE CAGE's Return
CREDIT: Marvel Comics
Impending Marvel event series Infinity is poised to be cataclysmic enough to necessitate a new team of Mighty Avengers, starring in a recently announced ongoing series launching in September with the creative team of writer Al Ewing and artist Greg Land.
As revealed, the team will be brought together by Luke Cage — a mainstay of the Avengers during the Brian Michael Bendis era, but a character that's laid low since last fall, choosing to stay away from the team given the constant risk it represented to him, his wife Jessica Jones, and their young daughter, Danielle. But desperate times call for desperate measures — especially in superhero comics — and Cage is once again on an Avengers team, though Monica Rambeau (now known as "Spectrum") will be serving as field leader, in a team also including Falcon, Blue Marvel, the current Power Man, She-Hulk, White Tiger, a new Ronin and the Superior Spider-Man.
Other than the altered timeline of Age of Ultron, Cage has been away from Marvel Comics since late November — only a little more than six months at this point, but a significant chunk of time for a character that's been a prominent part of the Marvel Universe for the past decade. We talked with Marvel senior vice president of publishing and long-time Avengers editor Tom Brevoort about the timing behind Luke Cage's imminent return, and what he's likely been up to during his short time away from Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Newsarama: Tom, it's clear now that Luke Cage is returning in Mighty Avengers, after being off-panel for the last few months since the end of Brian Michael Bendis's Avengers run (specifically, New Avengers #34). Was it a deliberate tactic to give him a rest, so when he inevitably came back, he was freshened up a bit?
Tom Brevoort: Not so much to freshen him up — honestly, more out of respect for where his story ended at the end of Brian's run.
I hated to lose him in Avengers, just in the abstract, because I like him as a character, and I think he played an important role when Brian was writing the book. In a lot of ways, he was Brian's voice — he was the eyes through which you got to see and live the Avengers experience. But having put that story to bed, it seemed like it would take something more than just an average day at the races to bring him back in a big way. We just needed to wait until there was such a place to use him again.
Nrama: It's interesting, because at first him being an Avenger seemed like a real departure for both the character and the franchise, and now it seems weird that he hasn't been an Avenger for the past few months.
Brevoort: Oh yeah. He became, very much, a quintessential Avenger. You think of him almost more as an Avenger than you do anything else — with the possible exception of Hero for Hire, because that's just encoded in his DNA. He really came to represent and symbolize the Avengers in a way that not too many other characters have over the years.
Nrama: It seemed like a nice ending for him at the close of Bendis's run, in the short-term, but obviously he couldn't stay retired forever.
Brevoort: Yeah, and he wasn't so much retiring from doing what he did, he was retiring form being an Avenger, and living in the Mansion with his wife and daughter, on the enormous bullseye that is that.
My expectation was, whether or not we were publishing comics about it, that he was out there being a Hero for Hire, and operating out of either the Alias Detective Agency, or his old place on 42nd street. Still fighting the good fight, still doing the kind of thing that he always did, but on a much smaller scale — far enough away from ground zero that his daughter wasn't imperiled by what he was doing in the same sort of manner.