Remember last month when I said Jeff Parker was off this title?
I was wrong about that, it seems. Apparently Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin are sharing writing duties for a few issues until Tobin takes over full-time. So issue #28, like its predecessor, features two stories, the first one of which is scribed by Parker.
Spider-Man and Ant-Man are attempting to recruit Luke Cage to the Avengers. This is the character's first Marvel Adventures appearance, so far as I know, and he's an amalgam of the original 616 version and the revampted character Brian Michael Bendis introduced in Alias and then imported into New Avengers. First of all, he goes by "Luke Cage", not "Power Man," though the story's title is a nod to the old moniker. Like the Bendis version, he wears a T-shirt and slacks for his costume, rather than a slit silk shirt. Also like the Bendis version, he's got a shaved head, plus goatee and beard; no afro or tiara in sight. He does wear big metal bracelets, though, plus a metal belt, both of which are reminiscent of the 1970s Power Man, as his choice of colours: black and yellow (albeit a mustard, not a lemon, yellow).
Cage still sports his traditional attitude, and blows off Spidey's appeal to join the Avengers. He's too busy fighting crime on the streets; so busy, in fact, that he affects not to even have heard of the Avengers. Notwithstanding his disdain, he agrees to check out what the team has to offer. This is partly because he's anxious to meet Storm in person, and partly because his momma comes around to pinch some sense into him.
There's barely time for introductions before several emergencies break out worldwide, forcing the team to break into squads to handle them simultaneously. Cage pitches in and does his part, smashing up robot bandits and plant monsters run amok, but clearly his heart isn't in it. Puzzled, Ant-Man checks in with Momma Cage (interrupting a teleconference with Dr. Doom to do so, much to the Good Doctor's irritation) who explains what the problem is.
Following up on this advice, Ant-Man scrambles the Avengers to the hideout of the Brawl Brothers, alien mercenaries who recently escaped the Vault. Finally, Cage comes to life, beating the snot out of the Brothers while laying down some ol'-skool smack talk. "You come breakin' laws on this planet, you are going to catch a beat-down, Earth-style! You hear what I'm saying now?"
"See?" says Ant-Man. "He just likes real villains he can lecture and straight-talk." (I'm utterly confident this last term was an editorial edit of smack-talk. Come on, Marvel, get hip to the street.) Now free of doubts about Cage's abilities, Captain America is happy to formally induct Cage into the Avengers.
"Cool," says Spider-Man. "With Cage we'll get back all the street cred we lost when you joined!"
Ant-Man retorts that "I'm street..."
Sure you are, Ant-Man. Sure you are.
A decent story, given the twelve-page limit. The cliche of the tough young black man meekly doing whatever his even-tougher momma tells him to do is tired, but it's balanced out by the delightful idea that, for Cage, superheroing is as much about the smack-talk as it is about beating up the bad guys. I also liked Doom's reaction at having the Avengers pre-empt his supervillain preening to take personal calls, and Cage's Isaac-Hayes-inspired theme song. Not bad, Mr. Parker; not bad at all.
I try not to pay attention to the solicits for future issues, but in order to iron out the question of whether Parker was still writing this title, I broke that rule, and I see that Cage is appearing in future issues. It seems he's joining on a permanent basis, like Ant-Man did, and unlike Hawkeye, etc. Which brings me to my question: if Cage is now going to fill the role of the tough strong guy, where will the Hulk fit in? He's tough and strong too, and plays comic relief to boot. I'm not sure there's room for both of these guys, much as I like them both.
Pretty good for a twelve-page story. Still, no fireworks, and Momma Cage is a stereotype that's been done to death. Three webs.
Stinger ahoy. Luke has just been introduced to some of the Avengers, but brushes them off in his eagerness to meet Storm. Giant-Girl, who is tall enough that only her thighs and knees are visible on panel, is annoyed.
GIANT-GIRL: "Again everyone wants to meet Storm! Do guys think I'm not approachable for some reason?"