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Saturday, January 05, 2019 

When was the last time Luke Cage looked like himself?

I believe it was in the early 2000s, in the plainly titled Marvel Knights series written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by the late Eduardo Barreto, and here's some panels I scanned from the 13th issue of the 15-part series (I'm not sure if it's a miniseries, since most minis I know of usually just number in at 12 parts) of the Hero for Hire in his best character design:
There's our Power Man, even sounding like himself in dialect and wisecracks as he bests some ninjas who invaded the headquarters of the street-level heroes who make up the main cast of what may have been Dixon's last work for Marvel before he was blacklisted by Joe Quesada. (Prior to Dixon's Marvel Knights series, there was John Ostrander's Heroes for Hire series, which ran for at least a year, and there too, Luke was drawn as himself.) Why, since we're on the subject, here's also a panel with Black Widow and Dagger (and yes, Cloak is also part of the cast):
One could probably argue this was the last time even these two chicks looked like themselves, and were accompanied by impressive artwork to boot, for which Barreto deserves considerable credit.

So up until 2001, Luke Cage looked like a real man, and not like the absurd caricature Brian Michael Bendis turned him into a year or so later, possibly starting in the MAX imprint, with a bald head and a beard. Personally, I'd like to see Luke restored to a guy with hair on his head and no beard, and I'm sure there's others out there who'd like to see the same. So consider this a call for common sense, and bringing Power Man back to what he once was, not some overwrought cliche that makes even the silliest B-movies look like a paragon of invention.

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Blame Bendis and his inane brand of "realism". Why else do you think we got increasingly shocking amounts of "realism", not to mention those horrible live-action films and TV shows.

You seem to have an odd fixation with Luke Cage’s hair and how it (somehow?) relates to, or reflects, your perception of masculinity. This is at least the third time you’ve written on the subject.

To your mind, the bald depiction of Like is less “manly” than the one with the tiara? OK ...

That's Dagger? The hair style and color threw me off for a second...

And you don't think his original look invoked blaxploitation?

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