Marvel's New Cage Comic Playing on Negative Stereotypes?

Marvel announced they would be doing a new Luke Cage comic called Cage. It is done by Genndy Tartakovsky who has previously done work on Cartoon Network, including Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon. However, in a group chat I am a part of, which includes several African American retailers, the discussion on the book became clearly negative towards the book. I asked the retailers to comment and they said they would do so on the basis of anonymity.

Here is what they had to say:

Our first impression is that the art style is very derogatory and plays off stereotypes of blacks that are just offensive. Cage is drawn in the old 70’s style outfit with large Afro, but if you look at the art of Cage that was released, as well as the people he is fighting, the “big lips” stereotype comes through. Plus, the “jive talking street fighting” stereotype is there as well. 
The art style is childish. I know Genndy’s style tends to be this way and it is inline with his typical style, but if this is cartoony and if this gets into the hands of kids, then the stereotypes continue.
With Luke Cage in Jessica Jones, his upcoming series on Netflix, and the Defenders show, Cage is just not portrayed this way. He is not the jive talking stereotype, he is a more complex character. Marvel has several high profile black characters right now; Falcon, Black Panther, and Luke Cage. In this case, they are not taking Cage seriously. Marvel could have had a hit on their hands but instead hand us this joke. People will not get behind this and I plan on ordering exactly 0 copies. Taking him back to the stereotypical 1970’s style is just wrong.

I spoke to Mel V. about the book, one of our regular contributors who is African American, and he had this to say:

When I first saw it I asked why would Marvel green light a blackxplotation book after they are trying to get away from that with Cage? It struck a nerve.
The art.. its very stereotypical..and I get where the creator is going, but now is not the right climate for it.
Marvel in the new Power Man and Iron Fist books, they have steered away from this version of Cage, as well as the tv series coming up, why would they do this?
I’m in a black comic group..people hate this Cage book. 

Mel has been very vocal about portrayal of African American women in Marvel Comic books stating that Marvel only depicts one style of black woman, that being the dark skinned Afro puffed character that is shown by Riri Williams, Moon Girl, and others. 

28 thoughts on “Marvel's New Cage Comic Playing on Negative Stereotypes?”

  1. This is my problem with Marvel right now. They are pandering like crazy, but they are dong it in a way that, in my opinion offends more than those who applaud it. Marvel is a bit out of touch in so many ways these days. New leadership should be considered.

  2. I’ll reserve a final opinion after it’s released…At first glance I can say it’s black exploitation, but we don’t know the message until we read it. Hell, Boon dock’s made me cringe & the Chappell show. Both are insanely popular.
    More representation is a bit of a scatter shot for the big 2 now. Meaning, they’re trying everything to see what sticks. I’m glad they’re at least trying.
    & Mel, I’m sure you’d wear a T-shirt with a 70’s Cage on it…

    1. As a white guy, I can see where the 1970s image of Luke Cage cam and should be celebrated. However I can totally see how he’s images can be seen as continuing a stereotype

    2. Are u kidding me …when have u ever seen me wear anything explototing.boondocks shead a light on issues in the community..Chappell left the show because of its subject matter by writters of other color you really think any kind of black exploitation is needed now..If your looking for a diversity in comics pick up power lines by image or Black coming from Blackmask or even Night Hawk by David Walker by marvel…not this bullsh** and no i would not rock a 70’s powerman shirt..give me the New Cage as seen on my power man and iron fist mobb deep cover shirt

  3. I think everyone needs to sit back and see how much other races aren’t bothered by them being portrayed in a comical light or in parody. Hispanics have no issue with laughing at themselves and obviously those of Asian descent don’t either. I don’t understand the ultra sensitivity here. The book may very well suck. Who knows. I sometimes wish folks wouldn’t just look at something and decide they should be offended by it and then rant. Call me what you will, but I like to call it as I see it.
    That said I’m not in love with the art because it’s simply not my style. I seem to grow out of Marvel more and more by the day. But for me it doesn’t paint African Americans in a negative light. I hope someone out there can take some positivity out of that.
    I can’t say I am a fan of Luke Cage, but have appreciated the work on multiple levels. I do like how we can have a strong black comic hero without “Black” in the name. Now for me, that is something I would raise an issue about with other characters.

  4. For me, this book will fill a certain void since Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth went on permanent hiatus. Reminds me of Ralph Bakshi’s “Hey Good Lookin” which is a great compliment. I hope Marvel keeps their balls and doesn’t pull the plus on this book.
    Anyone who has a problem with it can take the save advice they give us when someone pissed about their gender & race swapping of characters: “Get over it”

    1. I don’t think this has anything to do with Marvel “keeping” their balls. They have made a ton of ballsy moves over the past decade. I think they are just making ballsy moves for the sake of it. I don’t think a lot of it is very well thought out except for how much money it can make them.I want Marvel to make ballsy moves. I just don’t want them to make moves that are more in line with political correctness and pandering as they have been for a little while now. The style used for this book certainly isn’t PC, so that is where the “go ahead” for it confuses me a little. Marvel to me these days seems to be going in many directions without a planned destination. I just don’t think they are paying all that much attention to what they are doing. Seems they are just pulling ideas out of a hat. If it sticks and makes money they move ahead. If it doesn’t they toss, change it or start all over.

  5. I saw this in previews and immediately thought “there’s gonna be a $!#$ storm over this.”
    I loved Genndy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack cartoon. It was very Stylized which is what this is. I just don’t know if it’s the right time or if there ever would be a right time for this. I don’t think Tartakovsky was trying to offend here.
    I haven’t looked at the recent Hip Hop comics that were telling stories about the rap groups from the 80’s but the covers looked to be a bit “stylized” as well. Maybe not as extreme as this, but is that ignored because it’s not “mainstream” or coming from one of the big two?

    1. I love Samurai Jack too. And most things that Genndy has brought to the Cartoon Network table. I am only putting out there what several people have brought to my attention.

  6. Not a big fan of Luke Cage, but for some reason looking at the art, it reminded me of Afro Samurai. The big lips, straight out bad ass brother. I like it. Maybe it’s because Marvel is coming out with this style of art. But if it was some indie company, I dough people would get mad. Just my opinion. Showed it to a good friend of mine who is black and he said it’s cool. It reminded him of black dynamite.

  7. Their definitely bringing back all the old stereotypes with this book. I’ve been down with most of the diversity stuff marvels thrown out there, this has absolutely nothing to do with that. I won’t be buying it, and I was excited for a Cage series til I saw the preview art.

  8. I understand the stereotypes going on here. When I read the slang I can’t help but hear Berry White’s voice saying it. The guy he is punching fits the the stereotypical look you would see on Fat Albert. Until I’ve read the entire book I am not going to make a decision on it yet. For all we know it starts off in the past and continues in the present. Maybe they want to show how far things have come since then? If the rest of the book is the same as the intro, then that is a different story and the discussions can begin.
    The one thing I never want to see change after hearing stories like this is free America. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. And regardless of the good or bad never censor it. We don’t need other amendments on the radar to be taken from us. Rather than hide the book by not supplying it at a store or having Marvel recall it, get it in the open and use it as a tool to express your point and educate.
    And the real kicker……. is it will become a spec book now.

  9. I read that this was supposed to come out in 2007, but got shelved…
    Anyway, I think it looks fun and reminds me of those Deadpool flashback issues.
    We’ll see when it comes out. If it comes out.
    If you focus on the fiddle-faddle, that’s all you see. It’s art. It gets people talking.
    Eye of the Beholder and all that.

  10. I can see why there are concerns and feel some myself, but at least it won’t be as bad as those cringe-worthy moments in the otherwise interesting mini-series, “Spider-Man: Fever,” that featured the most racially-insensitive portrayal of a black man I’ve seen in mainstream comics in a long time. And it came out in 2010. Yeah. As it happened awhile ago I had some trouble finding pieces about it, but did find this one:
    Hopefully this new Luke Cage comic won’t be THAT bad.

    1. I seriously doubt it. Conversations about race always seems to bring the A**hole out in some people because they can’t understand why a black person would be happy that there are hero’s out there now who look like them and represent black people in a positive way. I practice what I preach though and i’ll let my money talk, it’s the same thing i told all the haters, if you don’t like it then don’t buy it.

  11. I like the art. The guy getting his ass kicked is actually wearing rollerskates and star studded bell bottoms. It is obviously a throwback to the roots of the character which was during the blacksploitation era. I’m sure the writing will not be too in depth but I like the premise. I may actually buy this.

  12. im not saying this is or isn’t offensive, but I think people would probably be objecting to the art in Power Man and Iron Fist if it wasn’t drawn by Sanford Greene. it seems its very difficult for a white writer or artist to write/draw a black character without getting a lot of negative feedback. didn’t the new blade series get postponed/scrapped because there were no African americans in the creative team?

    1. I heard a variety of rumors about the, “Blade,” comic getting scrapped. Considering how Marvel has put out books before with black characters that have neary a creator-of-color in sight and shrugged at comments to their doing so I don’t think that was the reason.
      The most logical rumor I heard was that the plan was to push the comic back until a, “Blade,” movie or television show got off the ground, then it entered development Hell as many projects do, and at that point all the creators who were going to be involved had lost interest along with Marvel. Again, complete hearsay, but it makes sense.

  13. that could be true. I have also just heard hearsay. but I think in this day and age, with political correctness at an all time high, as well as comic books being the most popular they’ve been since the early 90’s, there has been a shift away from “white writers” writing “black characters.” I have no problem with that because the new black panther series and the new power man/iron fist series have been great. people write best about what they know. a black writer writing a black character gives that character a depth/perspective/complexity that would be difficult to replicate by a white writer. but no one would ever object to a black writer writing a white character. nor should they. but I also think part of that is due to the fact that most super heroes are not defined by their race or gender. iron man and captain America aren’t “white super heroes.” theyre just super heroes. which is why the mantle of those characters can be replaced by white characters like riri and falcon. the same is not true for characters like black panther and power man. those are “black characters.” their ethnicity is a defining characteristic of who they are. that’s why there could never be a white character playing black panther or power man.
    I guess my point is, there is a double standard. and im ok with that. I understand why it exisits, and honestly, I agree with its existence. I guess I just have a problem with people labeling white people “racist” or guilty of “blacksploitation” just because they do something in a way that isn’t the most politically correct.

  14. Wow, that artwork looks horrible. It feels like I’m looking at a comic strip in an old MAD magazine or something. I was going to give this series a try because I think Luke Cage deserves his due, but I’m going to be staying away from this one. Sadly, I have a feeling this will set back the character of Luke Cage. Hopefully Marvel realizes how horrible the direction of this is going before it’s too late.

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