Luke Cage has been one of the coolest Marvel characters ever. His tough backstory and incredible stories made him an incredibly complex and layered character. Besides his personal story, Luke Cage has had some great relationships and allies over the years, like Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Daredevil, but also some super dangerous villains.
The Power Man has been fighting against some incredibly powerful villains, so we decided to list the ten most feared Luke Cage villains of all time. There will be villains Luke Cage briefly fought against, and the ones that are explicitly “his.” If you’re interested in our list, stay with us until the end.
First on this list is Hernan Alvarez, also known as Shades. The character first appeared in 1972 in the ‘Luke Cage, Hero for Hire’ storyline, where we learn how he and Luke Cage met. Before going to prison and essentially being reformed, Luke Cage was in a gang called the Rivals, where he met Shades, who eventually stood on the opposite side of the Power Man.
After years of being against his former friend, Shades gets reformed, but his end is tragic – Bullseye kills him in the explosion that murdered 107 people. Shades wasn’t necesarilly the strongest guy in the world, but with his hand-to-hand, and his signature shades that could emitate powerful blasts, the man could cause a lot of trouble for Luke Cage. Because it’s personal, Shades deserves to be on this list.
Willis Stryker, also known as Diamondback, was Luke Cage’s first real threat and villain in Marvel Comics. Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Stryker had a hard childhood, but being friends with Carl Lucas (Luke Cage) made everything easier.
However, when Carl Lucas’ became Luke Cage and used his new powers to protect the innocents from crime, Stryker became envious of the former friend. Stryker became a crime leader who regularly fought against Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist and, at one point, injured Luke’s wife, Jessica Jones. Besides being Cage’s first-ever villain, Stryker is important because he is a legitimate threat – he gained superpowers due to the special Diamond drug and incredible combat skills.
8. The Green Goblin
Norman Osbourne is primarily Spider-Man’s villain, but as many superheroes reside in New York, Green Goblin became the universal villain. Norman Osbourne had many great arcs where he mostly made superheroes miserable, and Luke Cage is definitely included in that group.
During her tenure as the Daily Bugle reporter, Jessica Jones was attacked by the Green Goblin after the villain’s secret identity was revealed to the world by notable journalist Ben Ulrich. Jessica was pregnant and in a relationship with Luke Cage, who wanted to protect his family immediately. Since that moment, Luke Cage and Norman Osbourne regularly went against each other, especially when Luke Cage was the leader of the New Avengers.
Interestingly enough, John McIver, also known as Bushmaster, isn’t alive anymore since he died in the ‘Cage’ issue #12 comic book in 1992. Despite his death, Bushmaster is still considered one of the most feared villains of Luke Cage. McIver was also a villain of Iron Fist.
In ‘Power Man’ issue #49 from 1978, Bushmaster tried to “one-up” Luke Cage, but the hero defeated him and paralyzed him. John’s younger brother Quincy took over the Bushmaster mantle and is considered Captain America’s villain.
6. Mr. Fish
Marvel Comics had a few notable mutate villains like Dr. Connors’ Lizard and Aleksei Sytsevich’s Rhino. But there was one who opposed Luke Cage once – Mortimer Norris, also known as Mister Fish.
Mr. Fish is another “old” Luke Cage villain who was originally a thug for the Maggia, an international crime syndicate, who went on to steal special isotopes from the shipment truck. The accident happened, and Norris mutated into Mr. Fish. Interestingly enough, Mr. Fish actually beat Cage in a fight, but in the usual “villainy” way, he fell from a building to his death.
Alonzo Lincoln originally appeared in the ‘Web of Spider-Man’ comic book run from 1987 as a villain of the Web-Slinger. However, the criminal later became the villain of Daredevil and other Heroes for Hire, which included Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Of course, Luke Cage and Iron Fist fought Tombstone after the criminal boss stole a necklace of Jennie Royce.
Alonzo Lincoln is a powerful man whose exposure to Diox-3 made his skin as hard as diamonds and prowess in combat.
4. Cornell Cottonmouth
Another classic Luke Cage villain is definitely Cornell Stokes, also known as Cottonmouth. At one point, this villain was one of the most notorious New York crime bosses, whose heroin trade was the biggest in the city. After his crime empire crumbled, Cottonmouth joined Nightshade’s gang, the Rivals, who regularly fought against Luke Cage and his allies.
At one point in the comics, Cottonmouth actually defeated Luke Cage (with the help of corrupt cops, but still) and almost took a bite from Power Man’s face. Thankfully, Nightshade stopped the former crime boss, and Iron Fist rescued his friend and colleague.
3. Purple Man
Zebediah Killgrave is one of the most disturbing villains of Marvel Comics, also known as the Purple Man. A former spy who was exposed to mysterious chemicals that changed his skin color to purple gained powers to control people’s minds using pheromones.
At one point in the comics (titled ‘Alias’ written by Brian Michael Bendis), Purple Man used Jessica Jones and mind-controlled her as a sex slave for eight months. The evil man is Jessica Jones’ biggest villain but Luke Cage’s as well because he attacked Power Man’s family and even mind-controlled him into attacking his wife and daughter. Despite not being Luke Cage’s primary villain, Purple Man is so evil that he definitely has a place on this list.
2. Black Mariah
Mariah Dillard, also known as Black Mariah, is one of the coolest and most feared villains of Luke Cage. As the Power Man, Mariah grew up in Harlem, New York, and became the leader of the Rat Pack gang, which focused on stealing and robbing dead bodies.
Luke Cage and Black Mariah had some great battles in which the notorious woman actually beat the Power Man, giving him an epic beatdown. Thankfully, Cage returned the favor and sent her to jail. Black Mariah is feared because of her cruelty and incredible lack of empathy towards others.
1. Moses Magnum
Finally, we have one of the most feared villains of Luke Cage, a villain named Moses Magnum. At first, he was a normal Ethiopian weapon manufacturer who gained powers from the Apocalypse, a notorious villain of X-Men. After falling to his death and being saved by the mutant conqueror, Magnum started using his powers and influence for his evil sponsors and his own questionable deeds.
Magnum’s obsession with weapons and power made him the enemy of Luke Cage and many other heroes, and his powers to cause massive earthquakes made him extremely powerful.
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